Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) applauded the Texas House of Representatives for passing HB-999, which prevents local school boards in Houston and Dallas from closing public schools without giving communities notice and a public hearing. Additionally, campuses targeted for closure due to academic shortcomings would receive all necessary resources identified by a campus intervention team and would have two full years to put those resources to use before the local school board could order the campus closed.
Rep. Dutton stated “public schools are the epicenter of each Texas community and a school board vote to close a school is tantamount to a death sentence for that community.”
The Texas Assn. of School Boards (TASB), which represents local school boards, adamantly objected to Dutton’s bill arguing that the bill overrode local control. Specifically, TASB opposed the bill’s provision requiring prior approval of the Texas Education Commissioner before closing a school.
In contrast, Rep. Dutton stated “before a death sentence is given to a community by closing a school, every protection the legislature can provide must be considered. Having the Commissioner in the loop is simply one more protection for Texas school children, their families and our communities.”
Despite seven Democrats having voted against HB-999, Rep. Dutton stated “passing this bill was among the highest priorities for legislators who place greater value in the voice of local citizens rather than concede unchecked power to local school boards to close neighborhood schools.”