Houston Forward Times

02 April 2014 Written by  Dr. Reba Wright

The Community Continues to Question HISD’s Policy and School Closure

Trustee Wanda Adams stated on several occasions, "There is a need to review and make changes to the current HISD policy regarding school closure." Trustee Adams is absolutely correct! From the data I have gathered, HISD’s current policy on closing schools is not only ambiguous, but also inconsistence when it comes to implementation!

The current HISD policies that govern school closures and repurposing, as we know, are the Facilities Planning CT Local and CT2 Regulation. CT Local implies that HISD must provide "objectives criteria and uniform procedures in developing recommendations to the Board for the redirection or disposition of existing school buildings experiencing a continuing decline in enrollment." CT2 Regulations spell out the procedures for evaluating and making recommendations for schools with declined enrollment.

Based on HISD’s CT2 school closure and redirecting policy, the community wants HISD to publicly answer the following questions and provide backup documentation!

Question 1: According to CT2 procedures for evaluating and making a recommendation for a school with declined enrollment, the Chief School Officers (CSO) and School Improvement Officers (SIO) will review the snapshot enrollment on an annual basis.

Has HISD prepared an annual snapshot of enrollments for Jones and Dodson from the onset of enrollment decline?

Although the community reviewed the report prepared by HISD Demographic Department in 2013, the community wants to know if enrollment snapshots were prepared from the onset of enrollment decline. For instance, since HISD removed Jones’ Vanguard in 2002 has HISD prepared annual snapshot enrollment reports from 2002 to 2013?

Question 2: According to CT2 policy, the CSO and SIO will request an evaluation from Academic Services to determine the feasibility of maintaining operation of the school with declining enrollment. This report will be utilized as the basis for making a recommendation.

Did Jones and Dodson CSO and SIO request the evaluation at the onset of the schools’ enrollment decline?

What were the feasibility analysis and recommendations to maintain the operation of Jones and Dodson from 2002 to 2013?

Question 3: According to CT2 policy, the school office staff will review the effect his/her recommendation will have on the court-ordered desegregation plan for the District.

Did Jones and Dodson school office staff review the impact of closing Dodson and Jones upon HISD’s desegregation plan?

Additionally, did the Board’s recommendations further desegregate Jones and Dodson and the concentration of minority students into predominantly minority schools?

Question 4: According to CT2 policy, the school office staff will review the adequacy of the existing and receiving schools instructional programs (i.e. grade distribution, pupil-teacher ratio, type and number of ancillary personnel, type and number of enrichment programs, and ten years of enrollment).

Have Jones’ and Dodson’s school offices reviewed the adequacy of Worthing, Sterling, and Blackshear instructional programs?

Also, has the appropriate staff reviewed the academic progress of the receiving schools to determine if merging students were forced to attend schools they were out performing? This should include a 10 year review (5 years prior to closing and repurposing, and 5 years projected after closing and repurposing)?

Question 5: According to CT2 policy, the school office staff will also review the location and characteristics of receiving schools (i.e. the adequacy of receiving schools to house redirected students, proposed attendance boundaries, potential extended travel distance, and location of manmade and natural barriers, access hazards, transportation adjustments, and economic consideration).

Has the school office staff examined the locations’ characteristics, travel time, psychological impact to determine how closing Dodson affect those students who have to leave their school?

Has HISD conducted a review to determine how the repurposing and removing the athletic program from Jones affect students, especially seniors who may or may not be graduating with their fellow classmates or attend prom?

Question 6: According to CT2 policy, each CSO will submit a recommendation based on his/her review to the Superintendent. When a recommendation considered to close a campus, a time schedule and the process for community input and notification will be sent to the school community and other key communicators.

Did Dodson’s CSO submit recommendation to close the school; if so, when?

Did Jones’ CSO submit recommendation to repurpose Jones; if so, when?

Did HISD prepare a report showing the time schedule to close Dodson?

Did HISD prepare a time schedule to repurpose Jones?

When and with whom did HISD develop a process for community input and notification?

Dr. Grier as you prepare to close and repurpose our community schools- Dodson and Jones, please note that we, in the community, want evidence.

We want truth, and we demand to be treated with the same dignity and respect as you give others! In the meantime, we will continually refine the analysis of data and policy.

On that note and our right to this information under the Public Information Act, we are requesting copies of the reports and all information addressing policy that supports the closing of Dodson and repurposing of Jones!

For the record, Dr. Grier and HISD Board members - if policy was not followed with the closing of Dodson and repurposing of Jones, then

HOUSTON - HISD, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!