It All Boils Down to Money
Maybe there is some sanity still left in the world. A recent decision by the Houston public school district is now under scrutiny. Here is the lowdown:
Nine members of the local community last Thursday sued Houston’s public school district, alleging the district violated numerous laws and their own regulations when recently changing the names of eight schools.
“We’ve been arguing as parents and taxpayers for months that the vote was illegal, politically driven, and taking these historic buildings was against the law,” said public relations consultant Wayne Dolcefino, who is a spokesman for the plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit asks the Harris County District Court to prohibit HISD’s board from spending millions of taxpayer dollars on renaming the eight schools. HISD voted to change the names of these schools in May because each school was named for a Confederate leader.
An HISD spokesman said the district had no immediate comment on the suit.
Dolcefino said the school board violated the Texas Open Meetings act and the Monument act, among other regulations. The plaintiffs on Tuesday issued a 24-hour demand to HISD, asking the board to rescind its vote to rename the schools. HISD didn’t respond, he said.
Attorney Dan Goforth, who’s representing the plaintiffs, said the money HISD will have to spend is the sole problem with the name changes.
“We’re not saying they can’t do it. We’re just saying they can’t do it the way they want to do it,” Goforth said.
He estimated it will cost the school district at least $5 million, including at least $2 million to change student uniforms to match the new school names. HISD expects the total cost of the name changes will be no more than $2 million.
“HISD is broke,” the attorney said.
Nancy Abrego, one of the plaintiffs, lost her job teaching special education in HISD in April due to school district budget cuts. She grew up in the Heights section and attended Reagan High School, one of the schools slated for a name change.
Abrego, who taught in the school district for 18 years, said renaming the schools is a waste of money.
“They need to give it to schools, so the schools and the students can have what they need, instead of teachers having to pull money out of their own pocket,” Abrego said.
(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 1, 2016 ed.)