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The Texas Education Agency has directed the Houston school board and superintendent to undergo leadership training or face serious sanctions. Those could include trustees being forced from their elected positions and the closing of schools.
The order comes as the state takes a hard line on districts with chronically low-performing schools.
A.J. Crabill, a deputy commissioner at the state education agency, sent letters this week to the Houston Independent School District and 10 other districts, citing concerns with the plans they submitted to improve their low-performing campuses. Because of that, he wanted the boards and superintendents to agree to "agency-directed governance training."
If the districts reject the training, Crabill said, he would not approve their school improvement plans, which means the agency would be required under state law to take major action. It could send in a state-appointed board to run the district, close the schools or assign an outside manager to oversee those campuses.
The board has been particularly divided since January. Two new trustees, Diana Davila and Jolanda Jones, took office, and at their first meeting then-board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones surprised some veteran trustees by bringing forward several controversial proposals, including renaming campuses named after Confederate loyalists and banning suspensions of young elementary school students.
The board, however, united over the summer to hire Superintendent Richard Carranza, the former schools superintendent in San Francisco.
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