State Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced Thursday that the Texas Education Agency is proceeding with an order to close North Forest ISD and annex the area into the Houston Independent School District effective July 1.
According to the TEA, Williams based his decision on North Forest’s “continued poor academic performance over the past year as reflected in its low high school completion rate and poor performance on statewide assessments.” North Forest’s elected school board still has the option of appealing the decision, Commissioner Williams said. Thursday’s announcement is not a final order. The full text of Commissioner Williams’ letter to HISD Superintendent Terry Grier can be found here. The TEA’s press release announcing the decision can be found here.
North Forest is a school district of about 6,000 students bordering HISD to the northeast. The district’s student population is about two-thirds African American, one-third Hispanic, and 100 percent of the student population comes from low-income families.
“While we did not seek this action, HISD stands ready to welcome North Forest into our family,” Superintendent Terry Grier said. “We will immediately begin making plans to make this a smooth transition for North Forest students and their parents. These children can expect to attend schools that challenge them academically and prepare them for success in college and a meaningful career.”
More than 350 students who live in North Forest currently attend HISD schools thanks to the district’s open transfer policies.
“The HISD board of Education is committed to educating every child,” HISD School Board President Anna Eastman said. “We will work with the commissioner to come up with a plan to ensure the needs of the children and families in North Forest ISD can be met.”
HISD students have made strong academic progress over the past several years. The district’s graduation rate has never been higher, and HISD was a 2012 finalist for the most prestigious award in public K-12 education, the Broad Prize for Urban Education.