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naacpBy Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

In a strong show of solidarity, a new coalition has formed to send a strong message to Houston Independent School District that disrespect African-American children, communities and neighborhoods will no longer be tolerated.

“We are calling on the entire Black community in Houston to get involved and advocate for our children,” said Yolanda Smith, Executive Director for NAACP, Houston Branch. “We cannot sit on the sidelines. The issues going on with the HISD will take the entire community coming together to work together.”

The NAACP is calling parents, PTO members, community leaders, civic leaders, parents and grandparents to important town hall meeting on April 24th  at 7 p.m. At  at the Houston Branch Headquarters at 2002 Wheeler Avenue.

Leaders are outraged over the blatant discriminatory practices being carried out by the Houston Independent School District.

The city wide coalition is made up of a group of civil rights and social justice community organizations, ministers and parents all concerned with the way Superintendent Terry Grier and the HISD School board is making decisions affecting the futures of thousands of African-American students and other minority children.

Problem No. 1 – HISD Disrespects The Democratic Process, Taxpaying Citizens and Voters

There are also concerns about the way the HISD Board disrespects and treats with sheer resentment  and apparent contempt Black and minority voters that comes to board meting to share concerns.

“HISD transacts their meetings under the Roberts Rules of Order. Under the Robert’s Rules of order the subsidiary motion to “table” is non-existent therefore the vote taken to “table indefinitely” was out of order.,” Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz said. “We are tired of HISD making up the rules as they go when dealing with the minority community.”

There were 19 speakers from the community prepared to speak for support of the item that ultimately

would restore Dodson.

The board shut down the voices of the community and did not allow taxpayers to speak.

“It is not only out of order, but is grossly disrespectful,” she said.

They are also seeking a moratorium on consolidation and closing of schools in HISD.

Problem No. 2 – Stop School Closings’ Consolidations

It is also a proven fact that altering school landscapes by closing schools signals the economic death of Black and minority communities.

The group is also asking for HISD Board President. Juliet Stipeche to call a Special board meeting with proper notice to address the agenda item dealing with the closing of Dodson Elementary-Montessori School as well as revisit the decision in March regarding the establishment of the Futures Academy at Jones High School and restore attendance zones applicable for this current school year and the issue of UIL athletics.

“Athletics is co-curricular and is an incentive to our minority children,” she said. “It sometimes is the only way some of our children get college scholarships.”

The coalition also contends that in light of recent HISD data revealing that Dodson currently has 443 students in attendance and 211 applications for the upcoming school year, Board President Stipeche, Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Trustee Wanda Adams placed the agenda item on this month’s agenda which ultimately served to restore Dodson.

If only 28% of those applications or 59 are accepted, Dodson would have the magic 500 students needed to have adequate elementary school enrollment.

This is not a stretch in that HISD data shows that there were 165 applications in this current school year and 59 applicants were enrolled. Data has not been received as to what was the fate of the other 105 applicants and why they did not enroll.

Calling Out Several HISD Board Members

The group is calling on HISD board trustees Anna Eastman and Paula Harris who were noticeably absent at the last board meeting, along with Rhonda Skillern-Jones, and Wanda Adams, who voted originally to not close Dodson to stand with us along with Board President Stipeche.

“It is time for us to move forward and restore our credibility in this community. If not now, when.,” she said. “We are tired of HISD playing fast and loose with our children’s education, their educational experiences, the arbitrary closing of schools in the minority community, the loss of programs and resources,and ultimately the demise of our minority communities.”

For more information contact the NAACP Houston Branch at 713-526-3389.