Kashmere High School

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Kashmere High School is a secondary school in Houston, Texas that serves grades 9 through 12; it is a part of the Houston Independent School District. It is located in the Trinity Gardens neighborhood,[1] and its namesake is the nearby Kashmere Gardens neighborhood.[2]

Kashmere contains the Conrad O. Johnson School of Fine Arts, a Houston ISD magnet school program.


Key Middle School - this was the original campus for Kashmere

Kashmere High School opened in 1957 at Hirsch Road at Kelly Street. In 1968 Kashmere moved to a new campus at 6900 Wileyvale Road and the Hirsch Kelley campus became Key Middle School.[3]

In 2013 the North Forest Independent School District was annexed into HISD. Portions, including Settegast, were rezoned from North Forest High School (the only remaining comprehensive high school in NFISD) to Kashmere.[4]

By 2016 Kashmere underwent remodeling.[5]

Academic performance in the 2000s and 2010s[edit]

Beginning in 2002 and continuing as of 2016 Kashmere had repeated issues with academic performance.[6] From the period 2005 to 2015 members of the surrounding community protested reoccurring plans to close Kashmere stemming from its low performance.[7] In 2016 HISD academic officer Grenita Lathan stated that issues at the elementary school and middle schools which feed into Kashmere contribute to the academic issues at the high school. Margaret Downing of the Houston Press wrote that the school has had a "lasting stigma" due to its poor academic performance.[5]

Kashmere, with Jack Yates High School and Sam Houston High School, were the three high schools in Houston ISD which were consistently low-performing in test scores from 2001 to 2004. Because of this problem, there were movements to have the state or another organization take over the schools for a period so the test scores will be at acceptable levels. While Yates got an acceptable rating in 2005, Sam Houston and Kashmere continued to get unacceptable ratings. In August 2006 the school learned that it again was getting an unacceptable rating from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).[1] When the Houston ISD administration threatened closure if another "unacceptable" rating came the following year, the local community protested. In summer 2007, Abelardo Saavedra, the superintendent of HISD, formally requested that all of the schools under consideration for closing due to academic performance should stay open.[8] Kashmere received an acceptable rating in 2007 because the Texas Education Agency has a provision allowing for a school to receive an acceptable rating even if the school fails in some of its criteria as long as the failures are within five points of the passing rate.[9] In 2008 it also received a scores other than the lowest possible rating from the TEA, but in every other school year from mid-2002 to mid-2016 it always received the lowest ratings.[6]

In 2007 a Johns Hopkins University/Associated Press study referred to Kashmere as a "dropout factory," meaning that at least 40% of an entering freshman class does not make it to their senior year.[10] During that year 58% of children zoned to Kashmere chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.[11] As of 2015 many students zoned to Kashmere transferred to Barbara Jordan High School.[7]

In the 2014-2015 school year 47% of students passed state examinations. In September of that year the State of Texas appointed Kashmere alumna Doris Delaney as the conservator of the school. Delaney had a working relationship with Kashmere's principal, Nancy Blackwell.[6]

To address the issues, the school began to more heavily emphasize career and university preparation, increased observation of teaching, and hired additional counselors. In 2016 HISD board member Rhonda Skillern-Jones stated that Kashmere had made more improvement during two years of Blackwell's leadership than during the preceding eight years under other principals. In addition an agency was brought in to resolve issues stemming from the students' home lives.[5] By December 2016 a nonprofit organization called ProUnitas, established by former Kashmere teacher Adeeb Barqawi, began acting as a case manager and identifying especially needy students at Kashmere so the school administration can better serve them and allow them to prosper in an academic environment.[12] By offering the services on-campus, students are more likely to accept them and participate.[5]


From about 2008 until 2016 the school had four principals and one interim principal.[6]

In 2010 HISD accused principal Mable Caleb of stealing school property and facilitating academic dishonesty, and the board voted to fire her. However an administrative law judge ruled in 2014 that Caleb was not guilty of the charges. Caleb sued HISD, and in 2016 the two parties agreed to a settlement in which she received $550,000.[13]

The principal prior to Blackwell was relatively new to being a principal, as was Blackwell herself,[5] although Blackwell had previous experience as an administrator. As of 2016 Nancy Blackwell is the principal. She had previous experience with low income teaching environments in the Aldine Independent School District.[6]


As of 2016 students may take courses with Houston Community College (HCC) as part of a partnership.[5]


As of 2016 most students walk to school, and other than school buses have few means of traveling to other schools.[5]

Athletics and extracurricular activities[edit]

Wheatley High School is Kashmere's rival. Kashmere students believed that any fellow students who transferred to Wheatley were traitorous towards Kashmere.[5]

As of 2016 Kashmere's JROTC had over 235 students.[5]


Kashmere High School was home of the Kashmere Stage Band, a nationally renowned band that released several jazz/funk albums in the 1960s and 1970s.

They are known for the vocal ensemble under the direction of Joan E. Hubert, a member of Houston Ebony Opera Guild.[14] These students' talent took them to Africa in 1997. In 2003 they performed for Senator Rodney Ellis and were the featured choir in Martin Luther King Memorial Concert along with the Scott Joplin Orchestra of Texas Southern University.

Kashmere had Jay-Z as "principal for a day"[15] in 2002.

Around 2016 the band had 41 members. In a period of one year it increased to that number from seven and it began doing more significant activities, such as marching in parades. Margaret Downing of the Houston Press wrote that it was "not quite at the level of the historic Thunder Soul corps".[5]

Student body[edit]

Kashmere, during the 2014-2015 school year, had a total of 585 students, giving it the lowest enrollment of any HISD comprehensive high school. Of the students, 72% were African American and 27% were Hispanic American. About 20% were eligible to take special education classes. The majority of the students were classified as low income.[6] By 2016 it had 608 students, with 14% being Hispanic or Latino and a total of five students being white. The campus was under-utilized due to the low population; Blackwell stated that when she first arrived to the campus she believed "it looked like it had been abandoned".[5]

In the 1970s the student population was about 1,500, and in the 1980s it was about 1,800.[5]

As of 2016 the student body was so poor that the school offered free early dinner service, in addition to free breakfast and lunch. Some of the female students were mothers, having experienced teenage pregnancy.[5]

Neighborhoods served by Kashmere[edit]

Kashmere serves the Houston Gardens, Kashmere Gardens, Settegast, and Trinity Gardens areas.[16]

School uniforms[edit]

Students may wear blue, red, white, or, grey collared shirts along with jeans.[17]

The Texas Education Agency specified that the parents and/or guardians of students zoned to a school with uniforms may apply for a waiver to opt out of the uniform policy so their children do not have to wear the uniform;[18] parents must specify "bona fide" reasons, such as religious reasons or philosophical objections.

Feeder patterns[edit]

Elementary schools that feed into Kashmere:[16]


Two middle schools, Key Middle School[28] and Henry Middle School,[29] have some of their students move on to Kashmere.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harris County block book map: PDF format, JPG format. Harris County Block Book Maps. Volume 117, page 425. Retrieved on August 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "High Schools." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on October 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "School Histories: the Stories Behind the Names Archived 2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine." Houston Independent School District. Accessed September 24, 2008.
  4. ^ "Board of Education Meeting July 18, 2013." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on January 11, 2017. "E-3 Approval To Name, Establish An Organizational Entity, And Create An Attendance Boundary For North Forest High School, And To Make Attendance Boundary Adjustments For Kashmere High School" - Three pages (PDF document pages 28-30 of 80).
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Downing, Margaret (2016-12-20). "Kashmere High Struggles to Survive, but Don't Count It Out Yet". Houston Press. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Mellon, Ericka (2016-09-02). "State names overseer of struggling Kashmere High School". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  7. ^ a b Michels, Patrick. "Houston's Learning Curve." Politico. May 21, 2015. p. 3 (Archive). Retrieved on July 20, 2015.
  8. ^ "Dr. Saavedra Recommends That Kashmere High School Remain Open." Kashmere High School. March 17, 2010. Retrieved on July 15, 2017.
  9. ^ "Exceptions rule used to Kashmere's benefit Archived 2012-07-23 at Archive.today," Houston Chronicle, August 7, 2007
  10. ^ "Report points to 'dropout factories'," Houston Chronicle, October 31, 2007
  11. ^ Radcliffe, Jennifer. "Critics: In HISD, too many don't go where zoned / Black leaders argue bond has no fix to get kids back to schools in their neighborhoods." Houston Chronicle. Sunday October 14, 2007. B1 MetFront.
  12. ^ "Local nonprofit may have an answer for district's poor exams record". Houston Chronicle. 2016-12-04. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  13. ^ Downing, Margaret (2016-09-23). "HISD Pays Off Fired Kashmere Principal Mable Caleb, 6 Years Later". Houston Press. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  14. ^ Houston Ebony Music Society
  15. ^ Rodrigues, Janette. "RAPPER TURNS PRINCIPAL / Artist encourages Kashmere students with stories of his own Hard Knock Life." Houston Chronicle. Saturday November 23, 2002. Section A Page 33 MetFront. Retrieved on September 18, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Kashmere High School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 27, 2016.
  17. ^ "Uniforms." Kashmere High School. Retrieved on January 11, 2017.
  18. ^ "Uniforms," Texas Education Agency
  19. ^ "Cook Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.
  20. ^ "Kashmere Gardens Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 27, 2016.
  21. ^ "McGowen Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "Paige Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  23. ^ "Berry Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.
  24. ^ "Elmore Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.
  25. ^ "Hilliard Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.
  26. ^ "Isaacs Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 27, 2016.
  27. ^ "Ross Elementary School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 27, 2016.
  28. ^ "Key Middle School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.
  29. ^ "Henry Middle School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 28, 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°49′21″N 95°18′55″W / 29.8226°N 95.3153°W / 29.8226; -95.3153