HISD Board of Education passes resolution calling for action on school safety

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education during its regular April meeting voted to approve a resolution calling for federal action related to school shootings.

Trustees voted 8 to 0 to approve the resolution that acknowledges the Board of Education stands with the students of Broward County Public Schools, and students across the country including HISD in demanding effective and comprehensive action from the federal government to protect schoolchildren. The resolution includes a call for Congress to appropriate adequate new funds to allow the nation’s school districts to plan and coordinate school security efforts with law enforcement officials and make changes to buildings that may be necessary to protect students, teachers, and staff.

“We absolutely believe the first priority for any of our kids is their safety and security,” HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said. “You can’t learn or accomplish any of the achievement goals we’d like to accomplish until our kids feel safe, until our parents who turn their kids over to us feel like they’re in safe environments, and for our faculty and staff. We want them to feel like they’re safe and protected and that they’re able to handle situations with our kids where their safety is threatened.”

The board also voted 4 to 3, with one abstention and one absent, to approve renewal of a contract with Teach for America for the 2018-2019 school year. Teach for America recruits outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and career interests to commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. The district has partnered with Teach for America since 1991. Currently, the district employs 124 Teach for America teachers.

The agenda item the Board approved renews the partnership for the summer training and staffing of up to 100 corps members for the next school year. Under the agreement, the rate paid to Teach for America will be $3,000 for teachers in critical shortage areas, and $1,800 for teachers in all other content areas. Campuses are responsible for those funds.

Trustees also voted 7 to 1 to approve an agenda item to waive Board policy related to the approval of campus or program partnerships associated with House Bill 1842. This policy lays the groundwork for the Board to be able to approve the partnerships associated with Senate Bill 1882 on a first public reading. Standard procedure is for multiple readings. Those partnership campuses would include: Blackshear, Dogan, Highland Heights, Mading, and Wesley elementary schools, Woodson PK-8, Henry Middle School, and Kashmere, Wheatley, and Worthing high schools.

Approval of this agenda item enables the board to vote on the policy related to partnerships on a first read. The Board must have a policy in place to govern the partnerships by April 30.