As they did in April 2015, Houston ISD is going on the offensive against their students and families. They are deliberately breaking the law and established district procedures that violate the TEA Education Code and in doing so have caused serious harm to two students. HISD is retaining a set of B+ third graders in retaliation for the parents choosing to opt them out of STAAR math last spring. Will you email the superintendent at [email protected] or call him at (713) 556-6300 and the school board members to remind them that HISD must comply with TEA Code and that this grade retention of B+ students would not have happened if they were White and privileged? The question we should be asking is what is the purpose of HISD's anti bullying policy if not to protect families from this?
Tyler and Tylan Brantley are long-time students at Burrus Elementary, attending since pre-kindergarten. They are strong B+ students who participate in the fine arts magnet program at their school. Third grade was a big year for both Tyler and Tylan, as it is for many students. They passed their classes and were viewed by the school as stellar students during the school year; that is,. until the mother chose to opt her sons out of the STAAR math test over concern that school had become less about learning and more about test prep and test and punish policies. ALWAYS about the STAAR and so much less about learning and growth.
They opted out of STAAR math but like many other third graders across the state, they failed the reading STAAR last spring. Instead of holding a grade placement committee meeting, as district policy stipulates, where parental input could have been considered, the school demanded the students attend summer school as a condition of promotion. The parents complied with this requirement and made sure the boys attended each day of summer school and thought everything was going well.
On the second to last day of summer school, the twins' parents were informed that their sons did not, in fact, pass summer school, and were both given grades of 69. This grade seems particularly capricious and suspect given that the students attended summer school daily, participated actively and learned what was expected of two hard-working almost fourth graders. Were the students to have received at least a 70, they would have "passed" summer school and would have been allowed to pass on to fourth grade. It is highly unusual and suspicious for third graders with B+ averages who attend summer school solely because of STAAR failure to be given summer school grades of 69. Each school year, over 40% of Burrus 3rd graders do not pass the reading STAAR, yet the school regularly promotes these students each year after they attend summer school.
A grade placement committee was not held until mid-July, at which point the twins' mother was told that her sons would be retained in 3rd grade and removed from the magnet program for a probationary period (1st report card cycle). During the grade placement committee, it was apparent the committee had not done two things required by state law: (1) considered parent input as the decision was made prior to the meeting, and (2) consider the whole academic record of the students as required by the Texas Education Agency code, the Student Success Initiative (SSI). You can read more here, the TEA Section 28.0211(c) and Tx Ed Rights grade placement guide.
The offenses continued and became grievous and outrageous when the twins showed up on the first day of school. They were not permitted to go to class, but instead were forced to spend the entire day sitting in the cafeteria and office, without any contact whatsoever with the parents. When Ms. Collins showed up the following day at Burrus and respectfully asked to meet with the principal, he refused to even come out of his office and then had Ms. Collins removed from campus by an HISD Police Officer!
This treatment of this well-intentioned parent by Houston ISD is abusive and outrageous. During the first week of school, Houston ISD was forcing the twins to miss out on valuable instructional time by refusing to allow them to return to class by stating that the twins, who have attended the school with a valid address since pre-K, were no longer in the school attendance zone. Ms. Collins has contacted the School Support Officer, who delayed meeting with the parents until the end of the first week, 8/28/15.
What will it take for the school to stop the unlawful action of keeping these boys from attending school? Can you imagine if your children were treated this way? Would HISD treat the child of a lawyer or a socio-economically advantaged parent this way? Is HISD treating the family in such a discriminatory way because they are African American and of limited means?
Call your school board member, which you can find here:
Tell them that it is NEVER okay for Houston ISD to bully ANY parent and the Brantley twins should be allowed to return to class immediately.