Houston Independent School District
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|Houston Independent School District|
A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions
|4400 W 18th St
Houston, TX 77092-8501
|Grades||Pre-K3 - 12|
|President||Manuel Rodriguez Jr.|
|Students and staff|
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest public school system in Texas, and the seventh-largest in the United States. Houston ISD serves as a community school district for most of the city of Houston and several nearby and insular municipalities in addition to some unincorporated areas. Like most districts in Texas it is independent of the city of Houston and all other municipal and county jurisdictions. The district has its headquarters in the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (HMWESC) in Houston.
- 1 History
- 2 Bilingual education and magnet and Vanguard schools
- 3 Student body
- 4 Staff and faculty demographics
- 5 Governance
- 6 Houston ISD television channel
- 7 HISD coverage area
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Schools
- 10 Dress codes
- 11 Administration building
- 12 Athletic facilities
- 13 Notable employees and teachers
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Notes
- 17 Further reading
- 18 External links
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In the 1920s, at the time Edison Oberholtzer was superintendent, Hubert L. Mills, the business manager of the district, had immense political power in HISD. He had been in the employment of the district over one decade before Oberholtzer started. By the 1930s the two men were in a power struggle.
The number of students in public schools in Houston increased from 5,500 in 1888 to over 8,850 in 1927.
There were 8,293 students in Houston's schools for black students in the 1924-1925 school year. With the construction of the former Jack Yates High School (later Ryan Middle School) and other schools and Wheatley High School, the capacity of Houston's secondary schools for black children increased by three times from 1924 to 1929. The original secondary school for blacks, was Colored High School (now Booker T. Washington High School). At the time all three secondary schools had junior high and senior high levels. There were 12,217 students in the black schools in the 1929-1930 school year. William Henry Kellar, author of Make Haste Slowly: Moderates, Conservatives, and School Desegregation in Houston, wrote that conditions in black schools "improved dramatically" in the 1920s.
In the fall of 1960 12 black students were admitted to HISD schools previously reserved for whites. The racial integration efforts in HISD, beginning in 1960, were characterized by a lack of violence and turmoil as business leaders sought not to cause disruption. Prior to 1960 HISD was the largest racially segregated school system in the United States.
In the mid-1960s Gertrude Barnstone and Black board member Hattie Mae White, the sole politically liberal members of the school board, often clashed with more conservative board members in meetings held on Monday nights; the two women made efforts to racially integrate the schools. During the 1960s, HISD's school board instituted a phase-in with each subsequent grade being integrated. Local African-American leaders believed the pace was too slow, and William Lawson, a youth minister, asked Wheatley students to boycott school. Five days afterwards 10% of Wheatley students attended classes. In 1970 a federal judge asked the district to speed the integration process.
Simultaneously Mexican Americans were being discriminated against when they were being labeled as whites and being put with only African Americans as part of HISD's desegregation / integration plan. This kept both Mexican Americans and African Americans away from Anglos while satisfying integration requirements set forth by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education court case decision. Many Mexican Americans took their children out of the public schools and put them in "huelga," or protest schools. On August 31, 1970 and organized by the Mexican-American Education Council (MAEC), they began three weeks of boycotts, protests, and picketing. This action lasted approximately three weeks, during which up to 75% of the student bodies of some high schools participated in the boycotts. During the protests MAEC demanded twenty issues to be resolved and HISD began rezoning school areas within its jurisdiction in response. However, this rezoning encouraged "white flight" since minorities were now entering "white schools" in large numbers. At first the district used forced busing, but later switched to a voluntary magnet school program in order to discourage "white flight".
The district eventually integrated races in a semi-peaceful manner. River Oaks Elementary School became the first school to implement the HISD's Vanguard Program in the Fall of 1972, with a program for 4th-6th graders. This program was initially named the Elementary School For The Gifted. The Vanguard Program name was adopted a year later. A desegregation busing plan, protested by Anglo White westside neighborhoods not wanting their children bused to predominately black schools, was rejected by the court system but white flight began by the 1970s.
In 1987 Olivia Munoz, the district's foreign language director, said that an increase in interest in foreign languages prompted the district to add foreign language languages to four high schools.
In 1992, the district, under superintendent Frank Petruzielo, massively rezoned Houston schools, moving students from overcrowded ones to underutilized ones. Donald R. McAdams, a former HISD school board member and author of Fighting to Save Our Urban Schools-- and Winning!: Lessons from Houston, wrote that Petruzielo accomplished this goal with a minimum of press coverage and controversy by using a participative process that minimized conflict between various Houston neighborhoods. McAdams credits the move with being the catalyst for the 1995 establishment of 11 geographic districts patterned around high school feeder patterns.
In 1994, after superintendent Petruzielo left the district, the school district voted 6-1 to make Yvonne Gonzalez the interim superintendent; the school district board members described this as a "symbolic" motion as Gonzalez was the first Hispanic interim superintendent. Gonzalez served until Rod Paige became the superintendent.
In the 1990s, after voters rejected a $390 million bond package, Paige contracted with The Varnett School, River Oaks Academy, and Wonderland School to house 250 students who could not be placed in HISD schools. The schools were paid $3,565 per student. This was 10% lower than the district's own per pupil cost.
As of 2007 several existing HISD schools were converting to K-8 school setups while other new K-8 schools were opening. Prior to the bond election in November 2007, the district abandoned a proposal to convert several schools into K-8 campuses due to African American neighborhoods communities resisting proposed school consolidations.
On January 14, 2016 the HISD board voted 5-4 to rename four campuses named after Robert E. Lee or others linked to the Confederacy.
In 1977, group of citizens in western Houston tried to form Westheimer Independent School District out of a portion of Houston ISD. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the appeals after formation of the district was denied.
HISD once served the Harris County portion of Stafford, until the Stafford Municipal School District was established in 1982 to serve the entire city of Stafford. Most of Stafford was in Fort Bend ISD, with a small amount in Houston ISD.
Reporting of school violence
A 2003 The New York Times report which asserted that HISD did not report school violence to the police created controversy in the community as teachers, students, and parents expressed concern about the district's downplaying of campus violence. HISD officials held a news conference after the publication of the story. During the conference, HISD asserted that The New York Times published the story in an attempt to discredit the Bush administration's new accountability standards for school districts nationwide, which were partly modeled after HISD's system.
In 2005, HISD enrolled evacuees from the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina who were residing in Houston. The Houston Astrodome, the shelter used for hurricane evacuees, is located within the HISD boundaries.
Many Katrina evacuees stayed for the long term within the Houston ISD boundaries. Walnut Bend Elementary School's enrollment increased from around 600 to around 800 with the addition of 184 evacuees; Walnut Bend, out of all of the Houston-area elementary schools, took the most Katrina victims. Nearby Paul Revere Middle School, located in the Westchase district, gained 137 Katrina victims. Revere, out of all of the Houston-area middle schools, has taken in the most Katrina victims.
Houston ISD's "West Region," which includes Walnut Bend and Revere, had about one-fifth of Houston ISD's schools but contained more than half of the 5,500 Katrina evacuees in Houston schools.
At the start of the 2006-2007 school year, around 2,900 Hurricane Katrina evacuees were still enrolled in Houston ISD schools. Around 700 of them were held back due to poor academic performance. 41% of evacuee 10th graders and 52% of evacuee juniors were held back.
According to the October 2006 "For Your Information" newsletter, the eleven HISD schools which took the largest number of Katrina evacuees were:
- Elementary schools: Bonham, Foerster, McNamara, Walnut Bend
- Middle schools: Fondren, Revere, Sharpstown Middle
- High schools: Lee, Sharpstown High, Westbury, Westside
On December 1, 1994, HISD board members voted to divide HISD into 12 numbered geographic districts; of eleven districts, each district had one to three high schools. The 12th district was an alternative district.
Prior to Summer 2005, HISD had 13 administrative districts. Originally, the number of districts were to be cut to three, but HISD decided on cutting the number to five in fall 2005.
Micro Systems Enterprises
In 2007 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Communications Commission, and the United States Department of Justice began an investigation probing business relationships between Micro Systems Enterprises, a vendor, and HISD. Frankie Wong, former president of Micro Systems, and two Dallas Independent School District administrators received criminal charges.
In 1948, Federal funding for school lunch programs became available. The district refused to participate and was unable to raise funds elsewhere. As a result, there were no free or reduced-price lunches for local schoolchildren until 1967.
In the 2000s HISD established "Breakfast in the Classroom." The program was replaced with a free breakfast program based in cafeterias. The Houston Press published a story about accounting irregularities regarding a program; the State of Texas announced it would investigate the program.[when?] On February 4, 2005, HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra announced that the program was suspended. By 2006 HISD resumed its free breakfast programs.
Bilingual education and magnet and Vanguard schools
HISD focuses on bilingual education of its predominantly Hispanic student body, including recruiting about 330 teachers from Mexico, Spain, Central and South America, Puerto Rico, China, and the Philippines from 1998 to 2007. Bilingual educational services, as of 2014, are available for Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Nepali, Urdu, and Swahili speakers. According to Texas Administrative Code BB § 89.1205 a language is eligible to have a bilingual program if 20 or more students are present in a school district who speak that language as their home language.
Houston ISD offers three specialized programs, magnet programs, vanguard programs, and neighborhood vanguard programs. Each magnet program has a special focus and draws students throughout HISD. Each vanguard program is a gifted and talented program for students throughout HISD. A neighborhood vanguard program is a program designed for gifted and talented children zoned to a particular school. As of 2011, its 113 programs served almost 20% of the HISD student population.
HISD, which first opened magnet schools in 1975, started them as a way to voluntarily racially integrate schools. In 1984 the district had 75 magnet programs. By the mid-1990s many magnet schools no longer held the goal of integration and instead focused on improving educational quality of schools. As of 2011 magnet schools continued to be popular among HISD constituents.
HISD's magnet (Performing Arts, Science, Health Professions, Law Enforcement, etc.) high schools are[who?] considered a model for other urban school districts as a way to provide a high quality education and keep top performing students in the inner city from fleeing to private schools or exurban school districts. Magnet schools are popular with parents and students that wish to escape low-performing schools and school violence. The members of the administration of schools losing students to higher-performing campuses, such as Bill Miller of Yates High School, complained about the effects.
There are 55 elementary magnet schools, 30 magnet middle schools, and 27 magnet high schools. Some magnet schools are mixed comprehensive and magnet programs, while others are solidly magnet and do not admit any "neighborhood" students.
In April 1997 a lawsuit against HISD seeking to end race-based admissions to magnet schools was filed on behalf of two white applicants to Lanier Middle School who were denied admission because the quota for White students was filled. The lawsuit was funded by the group "Campaign for a Color-Blind America". That year, as a result of this lawsuit, HISD removed the ethnic guidelines to Vanguard enrollment.
For the 2013-2014 school year the district reported a total enrollment of 210,047
- 61.8% were Hispanic American/Hispanic
- 25.8% were African American/Black
- 8% were White American/White
- 3.3% were Asian American/Asian
- 80.3% were economically disadvantaged
As of the 2014-2015 school year, Over 59,700 HISD students reported the language spoken at home by their families as Spanish. Over 925 reported their home language as Arabic and over 445 reported their home language as Vietnamese. As of 2015 other common languages were Mandarin Chinese, Nepali, and Urdu. As of 2014 the most common native languages for limited English and/or English learner students were Spanish (58,365 students, or 92% of ELL students), Arabic (855 or 1.3%), Vietnamese (437 or 0.7%), Mandarin Chinese (319 or 0.5%), Nepali (295, 0.5%), Swahili (250 or 0.4%), French (139 or 0.2%), Urdu (143 or 0.2%), Amharic (107 or 0.2%), and Tigrinya (104 or 0.2%).
As of 2013 the numbers of ELL learners by home language were: 56,104 for Spanish, 662 for Arabic, 538 for English, 528 for Vietnamese, 277 for Nepali, 271 for Mandarin, 212 for Swahili, 159 for Urdu, and 1,750 for other languages.
Student body history
Until 1970 HISD counted its Hispanic and Latino students as "white."
Between the 1970-1971 and the 1971-1972 school years, during a period of white flight from major urban school districts across the United States, enrollment at HISD decreased by 16,000. Of that number, 700 were African Americans. The HISD student body had white students as the largest group until the 1972-1973 school year, when the largest group became the black students. The white student body decreased, while the Hispanic student body increased and became HISD's largest student demographic in the 1989-1990 school year. In 1975 the student body was 39% White and 19% Hispanic. In 1981 the district had 190,000 students; 31% of the district's students were Hispanic, and 21% were White. In 1990 the student body was 43% Hispanic, 40% Black, and 15% White. At the time 45% of HISD schools had no white students. By the 1990s HISD's student body was increasingly made up of racial and ethnic minority groups.
Of the 9th graders that were in the graduating classes of 2004-2005 in the district, 15% successfully obtained bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees. The U.S. average was 23%. In the District of Columbia Public Schools, 9% of its equivalent 9th grade class received a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science and/or higher.
The preliminary fall enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year (203,163) had 7,000 fewer students than the 2005-2006 student enrollment (210,202), resulting in a more than 3% loss; the 2006-2007 enrollment was a 2.5% decrease from the fall 2004-2005 enrollment (208,454). From the preliminary 2006-2007 student count, the West and Central regions lost the most students, with a combined 4,400 student loss. The enrollment reported for the year in February 2007 was 202,936.
As of 2007, of the more than 29 HISD high schools, five had White students as the largest group of students; one of them, High School for Performing and Visual Arts, was the district's only White majority high school.
In 2010 Peter Messiah, the head of HISD's Homeless Education Office, said that HISD classified around 3,000 students as homeless. Margaret Downing of the Houston Press said that Messiah predicted "with confidence" that the actual number of homeless is higher because some families are too embarrassed to self-identify as homeless. Messiah also said that in the years leading to 2010, the number of students classified as homeless increased because the school district became better able to identify homeless students and because the Late-2000s recession continued to have an effect on their families.
As of 2011, between 50% and 66% of White students within the HISD boundaries enroll in private schools. In 2010 HISD had 15,340 White students, the lowest numerical number of Whites in recent history. This made up 7.6% of its student body. White enrollment increased to 17,313 by 2014, an increase by 13%. As of 2014, 8.2% of students are White. Asian enrollment had increased since 2010. As of 2014 7,401 students were Asians, making up 3.5% of students. In 2013 due to the absorption of the North Forest Independent School District, HISD's enrollment increased to 210,000.
Staff and faculty demographics
|This section requires expansion. (October 2013)|
As of 1984 only 7% of HISD teachers were Hispanic.
As of April 2016 Kenneth Huewitt is the interim superintendent.
As of 2016, the members of the HISD Board of Education are:
- President: Manuel Rodriguez Jr.
- First Vice President: Wanda Adams
- Second Vice President: Diana Davila
- Secretary: Jolanda Jones
- Assistant Secretary: Rhonda Skillern-Jones
Other members include: Anna Eastman, Michael L. Lunceford, Harvin C. Moore, and Greg Meyers
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Former HISD superintendent Rod Paige used the PEER Program. Improving scores from its schools have caused a lot of praise from others nationwide. Kaye Stripling took over when Rod Paige headed to Washington, D.C. as part of United States President George W. Bush's administration cabinet. After Stripling stepped down as the interim Superintendent, Abelardo Saavedra became the superintendent of the district on December 9, 2004. Since 2009, Terry Grier has been the district's superintendent.
As of 2010 HISD schools are organized by elementary, middle, and high school offices.
Previously schools in Houston ISD were organized into "Regional Districts." Each district had its own Regional Superintendent.
There were five regional districts in Houston ISD:
- Central Regional District
- East Regional District
- North Regional District
- South Regional District
- West Regional District
- Central District
- East District
- North District
- North Central District
- Northeast District
- Northwest District
- South District
- South Central District
- Southeast District
- Southwest District
- West District
- Alternative District
- Acres Homes Coalition Schools
As of 2010, of the school districts in Harris County, Houston ISD has the lowest taxation rate.
Houston ISD television channel
Houses in the Houston ISD area get the Houston ISD channel on cable.
- Channel 18 of Comcast
- Channel 99 of AT&T U-verse
- Channel 76 of Phonoscope Communications
- Channel 96 of Suddenlink
- Channel 18 of TV Max
HISD coverage area
The district covers much of the greater-Houston area, including all of the cities of Bellaire, West University Place,. Southside Place, and most of the area within the Houston city limits. HISD also takes students from the Harris County portion of Missouri City, a portion of Jacinto City, a small portion of Hunters Creek Village, a small portion of Piney Point Village, and a small portion of Pearland. HISD also takes students from unincorporated areas of Harris County.
Houston ISD covers all of the following municipalities:
Houston ISD covers portions of the following municipalities:
- Houston (the majority of Houston, including much of the inside Loop area falls under HISD)
- Hunters Creek Village (areas south of Buffalo Bayou are HISD)
- Jacinto City (areas north of Market street are in Houston ISD)
- Missouri City (Harris County portion only)
- Pearland (A section of the Harris County portion)
- Piney Point Village (areas south of Buffalo Bayou are in HISD)
Houston ISD grants school bus transportation to any Houston ISD resident attending his or her zoned school or attending a magnet program who lives 2 mi (3.2 km) or more away from the campus (as measured by the nearest public roads) or must cross treacherous obstacles in order to reach the campus. Certain special education students are also permitted to use school bus transportation.  HISD does not provide transportation for pre-kindergarten students.
In HISD grades kindergarten through 5 are considered to be elementary school, grades 6 through 8 are considered to be middle school, and grades 9 through 12 are considered to be high school. Some elementary schools go up to the sixth grade.
Every house in HISD is assigned to an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. HISD has many alternative programs and transfer options available to students who want a specialized education and/or dislike their home schools.
Characteristics of schools and White enrollment
Donald McAdams wrote that in the 1990s, within trustee District 5 there were schools that were about 50% White that usually had ample parent support and stronger test scores while there were schools about 90% or higher minorities that had low test scores and little to no parent support. He explained that in Houston white parents sent children to HISD schools that had minority children as long as the minority children tended to be middle class and that there was not too many of them. Many black students who lived in District 5 were middle class children who took school buses to the schools and did not live in the school zones. According to McAdams their enrollment levels were stable and White parents were comfortable with their presence. He added that very poor black children tended to go to their neighborhood schools outside of District 5. McAdams also stated that White middle class parents did not consider Asians and Asian Americans to be minorities who could make a school less attractive to them. In the 1980s and 1990s increased enrollment of poor, non-English speaking Central American students at some HISD neighborhood schools made them unattractive to White parents.
According to McAdams, the White middle class community accepted minority percentages of around 50% for elementary schools, and for middle and high schools the White community accepted minority percentages of over 70 because classes at those levels were separated by academic ability. If percentages of minorities exceeded the tolerable levels at a particular school, white parents withdrew their children from the said school until there were few White people left. According to McAdams, HISD administrators knew about the levels of minority percentages tolerable to White middle class parents.
McAdams argued that class was a far more important consideration than race to White parents. He stated that despite how "negative" his comments about White HISD residents sounded, many of the White parents were "not necessarily racists" but instead wanted high quality academic instruction in their schools, as methods and instructions for poor children were not suited for middle class children. McAdams argued that the attitude of the White community being willing to send their children to schools with about 50% minority enrollment was more progressive than the previous White attitude around the 1960s which was hostile to any minority enrollment in White schools.
As of 2006, over twenty high schools require their students to wear school uniforms or "standardized dress." Of them, one, Lamar High School, had a White plurality. Nine Houston ISD high schools did not require students to wear uniforms or standardized dress. Four of them had White students as the largest group of students.
In 1991 Key Middle School was the first school in HISD to introduce school uniforms. At the time, they were not required, but encouraged. Around the early 1990s the district began a trend of more localized management, so local schools set their own dress code policies. At the start of the 1994-1995 school year 37 HISD elementary and middle schools had uniforms or standardized dress; this was a large increase from the previous school year.
The current administration building, the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, is in northwest Houston. The administration moved into the offices in spring 2006. It is named after Hattie Mae White, the first African American HISD board member and the first African-American public official in the State of Texas elected since Reconstruction.
The current Sam Houston High School building in the Northside opened in 1955. The previous Sam Houston High School building in Downtown Houston became the administrative headquarters of HISD. By the early 1970s HISD moved its headquarters out of the building, which was demolished. As of 2011 an HISD-owned parking lot occupies the former school lot; a state historical marker is at the lot. In meetings it had been proposed as a new location for the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Houston ISD's administration building from July 1970 to March 2006 was the 201,150-square-foot (18,687 m2) Hattie Mae White Administration Building, at 3830 Richmond Avenue. The facility was labeled the "Taj Mahal" due to the counter-clockwise circular layout and the split-level floor pattern. The design made it difficult for wheelchair-using individuals to navigate the building. The complex cost U.S.$6 million. The building had tropical indoor atriums, causing critics to criticize the spending priorities of the district. When the district considered cutting a popular kindergarten program for financial reasons, taxpayers voted many board members out of office. The district sold the former complex for $38 million to a company that demolished the site and developed a mixed-use commercial property; demolition began on September 14, 2006. Demolition crews destroyed the Will Rogers Elementary School, an adjacent school at 3101 Weslayan that closed in spring 2006. The former HISD administration building appears in the film The Thief Who Came to Dinner.
HISD has three athletic facility centers that was under its control as of June 30, 2013: Herman A. Barnett Sports Complex, Joe K. Butler Sports Complex, and the two-stadium Delmar - Dyer Sports Complex. Barnett has the capacity of 8,000 for American football and track games, 2,750 for basketball games, and 2,500 for soccer (football) games. Butler can seat 8,000 for American football and track games and 2,500 for basketball games. Butler also has middle school and high school baseball fields, which have a seating capacity of 4,500. The Delmar American football stadium has a seating capacity of 12,500. The Delmar field house has a capacity of 5,400. The Delmar baseball field has a capacity of 1,500. The Delmar middle school stadium has 3,000. The Dyer Stadium has a seating capacity of 6,000 for American football and track games.
In addition the Jones-Cowart Stadium is located on the property of the former Smiley High School, now North Forest High School. When it was a part of the North Forest Independent School District (NFISD), it served as the district's stadium for sporting events. As of July 1, 2013, the NFISD territory was merged into HISD.
On September 12, 2013 HISD announced that it plans to demolish the existing 5,400-seat Delmar-Tusa Fieldhouse and build a new one at the same site. In the 1960s the old fieldhouse served as the home court for the University of Houston basketball team. HISD moved several scheduled events to the Mark Anthony Wilkins Pavilion at Forest Brook Middle School. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2016.
Notable employees and teachers
- J. Don Boney, former administrator
- Lyndon B. Johnson, a teacher who became the 36th President of the United States
- Laura Bush, a teacher at Kennedy Elementary School who later became the First Lady of the United States
- Alberto Gonzales, chair of the Commission for District Decentralization, later became United States Attorney General
- Edison E. Oberholtzer, former superintendent, founder and first president of the University of Houston
- Rod Paige, former superintendent, became the United States Secretary of Education
- Noemi Dominguez, a teacher at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School who was murdered by Ángel Maturino Reséndiz
- List of school districts in Texas
- List of schools in Harris County, Texas
- Houston Area Independent Schools — association of Houston-area private schools.
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