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North Forest ISD to fight closure recommendation

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Late this week, the Texas Education Agency announced it is closing North Forest ISD and merging it with the Houston Independent School District.

But in a town hall meeting Saturday morning, parents and community leaders said the decision is rash and unfair and they will fight to keep it open.

"We made sure our schools were safe, and we made sure our students were taught. We did what we said we were going to do," North Forest ISD Superintendent Edna Forte said.

Forte was just one of the administrators telling the district's side of the story in the wake of the TEA's decision to close it. And she had the help of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to make a point.

"There have been measured successes. They have hired a consultant. They have put forth a transformational grant to change the school," Jackson Lee said.

The TEA initially ordered the district closed in 2011 because of the state called deep-seated problems too difficult to fix. But North Forest appealed and was given another chance less than a year ago.

"We've made a lot of improvement in our district since these ratings came out. And all we're asking for is a chance," North Forest ISD's James Troutman said.

Congresswoman Lee says she thinks the district is being discriminated against and called North Forest the little red engine that can. She says the TEA did not offer a fair shake. Supporters who attended the town hall agree.

"We've not been afforded enough opportunity to show improvement. Eighteen months or one year is not enough time," North Forest ISD supporter Cathy Blueford-Daniels said.

"We're not doing nothing bad. We're trying to get stuff better," North Forest High School student Miguel Rangel said.

"I know there are a lot of wonderful things that come out of North Forest. And I know how hard they fought," North Forest ISD parent Millicent Edwards said.

Congresswoman Lee says she will ask for investigations by both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice. The TEA says its decision does not negate the good work done by the district in its efforts by they can no longer afford to wait.
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