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SBOE reverses two of three preliminary charter vetoes

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Deregulation | Charter Schools

Date Posted: 6/23/2023 | Author: Mark Wiggins

The State Board of Education (SBOE) reversed course on two recommendations to veto charter chain applications up for final approval at the board’s meeting this week. In a preliminary vote Wednesday, June 21, the board had signaled its intent to veto three of the five finalists.

The addition of contingency agreements based on some SBOE members’ complaints satisfied enough members to withdraw their opposition to two of those applicants. In a final vote Friday, June 23, the board vetoed just one of the five finalists. Below is a breakdown of the charter votes:

  • SBOE members approved Celebrate Dyslexia Schools of San Antonio by a vote of 13-1, with Melissa Ortega (D–El Paso) voting against.
  • The board approved Heritage Classical Academy of Houston 8-6, with SBOE members Ortega, Marisa Perez-Diaz (D–San Antonio), Staci Childs (D–Houston), Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D–San Marcos), Aicha Davis (D–Dallas), and Evelyn Brooks (R–Frisco) opposing. SBOE members LJ Francis (R–Corpus Christi), Will Hickman (R–Houston), Julie Pickren (R–Pearland), Audrey Young (R–Apple Springs), Tom Maynard (R–Florence), Pat Hardy (R–Fort Worth), Pam Little (R–Fort Worth), and Aaron Kinsey (R–Midland) voted to approve the charter chain. Perez-Diaz observed that this is the fourth attempt by Heritage, which the board rejected three times previously. Backers of Heritage were involved in efforts to elect a more charter-friendly board during the November 2022 election cycle, as we wrote about here on Teach the Vote. Of the nine contingency agreements tied to its latest application, Perez-Diaz noted that five relate to ensuring Heritage’s compliance with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
  • SBOE members approved NextGen Innovation Academy of Houston by a vote of 8-6, reversing its preliminary recommendation to veto the applicant. Ortega, Perez-Diaz, Bell-Metereau, Hardy, Davis, and Brooks remained opposed. Childs, Francis, Hickman, Pickren, Young, Maynard, Little, and Kinsey voted to approve the new chain. Francis said he changed his position Friday after his original vote to veto based upon a contingency agreement appended to the application.
  • The board voted 13-1 to uphold its initial veto of the Village Speech and Debate Academy of Fort Worth, with Childs the lone member opposing the veto.
  • The board voted 9-4 to reverse its preliminary veto of Up Excellence Academy of Houston, with Francis, Perez-Diaz, Childs, Hickman, Pickren, Maynard, Hardy, Little, and Kinsey voting to approve the chain. Ortega, Bell-Metereau, Davis, and Brooks maintained their opposition and Young abstained from voting. Several board members who had previously favored a veto explained that they changed their vote Friday on the basis of contingency riders appended to the chain’s application to address some of their concerns.

Before the charter votes, the board unanimously adopted a change to its operating rules to extend the window in which charter applicants may reach out to individual board members. Previous SBOE policy restricted applicants who had advanced to the final stages of selection from lobbying board members.

Earlier in Friday’s meeting, the board recognized 2023 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year Chris McLeod of Brazosport ISD, who was unable to attend in person, and 2023 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year Shelley Joffrey of Irving ISD. Addressing the board, Joffrey emphasized the frustration and exhaustion educators feel as a result of the overemphasis on state testing. She noted inadequate compensation and the effects of stress on educators’ mental and physical health. Joffrey urged leaders to support and lift up educators as they work through these challenges to deliver a high-quality education to Texas students.


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