Standing on a crumbling, 45-year-old campus, Houston school district leaders pleaded Tuesday with opponents of their $805 million bond package to drop their legal challenges so that construction and repairs can begin.
“After three months, it is time that the will of the voters be heard,” Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra told a crowd at Frost Elementary School, on Houston’s south side. “We are asking those very few people who are opposing us with legal maneuvers to stop.”
Critics say the plea was made because of the implications of a recent statement from the state attorney general’s office, which has said it won’t approve bonds that are the subject of pending litigation. The agency’s statement was part of its explanation to the Texas Supreme Court why the attorney general cannot yet approve the Waller school district’s bonds, approved by voters in May 2007.
“The Attorney General would ‘default his obligation to the state’ if he approved bonds whose validity was not apparent,” the office wrote after Waller officials asked the high court to order the attorney general to release the money.
No ruling has been made, but the state’s response gives opponents of the bond issues hope of having their day in court.
“If they think they’re going to browbeat us or the AG into bending to their will, they can take a flying leap,” said lawyer Ty Clevenger, who represents opponents of both bond issues.
HISD leaders should request a meeting to talk with parents, critics said.
“Since the November election, HISD has not been willing to sit down and discuss people’s concerns about the quality of education being provided to many of these children,” said state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.
Clevenger said he plans to appeal his case against HISD in state court in the next few days, despite warnings that the drawn-out legal battle will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
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