HISD Board Votes to Close One school, Re purpose Another - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

HISD Board Votes to Close One school, Re purpose Another

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When neighborhood schools are proposed for closure passions usually flair, but at the Thursday night meeting of the Houston ISD Board emotions exploded and more than a dozen police officers were deployed to protect trustees.


"Fire Terry Grier! Fire Terry Grier!" chanted many in the crowd.


It was HISD Superintendent Grier who proposed the closure of Jesse Jones High School and Dodson Elementary because of falling enrollment.


But dozens of angry opponents accused HISD of racial bias contending the shut downs would further cripple struggling, largely African-American neighborhoods.


When it came time to vote, a surprise compromise emerged which would keep Jones High open by converting the campus into a vocational school.


To closure opponents Trustee Wanda Adams delivered what amounted to a reality check.


"You did not have the votes to keep Jones open. Nothing that you could have done, nothing could change that. It would have been closed," said Adams.


"I ask you to believe that we will work to do what is right for the children," added Juliet Stipeche, HISD School Board President.


Some saw the Jones "deal" as a victory.


"Jones was on the chopping block and essentially we saved Jones with some compromise. We still saved Jones," said Durrel Douglas of the Texas Organizing Project which opposed the closures.


But others view the planned transformation of Jones High into a trade school much more cynically.


"Essentially we were co-erced with a take-it-or-leave-it deal that was absolutely undemocratic," said Niki Williams, a vocal opponent of the closure plan.


In a 5 to 4 split indicative of the deep division among trustees the board voted to close Dodson Elementary school and move it's Montessori program to near by Blackshear Elementary.


"The academics were through the roof. How can you have low enrollment when you have people on a waiting list?," said Travis McGee, a parent at Dodson.


"This is something they are doing on purpose. They are trying to kill our schools," he added.

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