Houston Independent School District, Texas

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Houston Independent
School District
Houston, Texas
Houston ISD seal.gif
District Profile
Superintendent:Terry Grier
Graduation rate:74.4%
Number of schools:279
Budget: $1.62 billion
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Anna Eastman
Board members:9
Term length:4
Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest public school system in Texas and the seventh largest in the United States, serving 204,245 students in 279 schools.[1] Houston ISD serves as a community school district for most of the city of Houston and several nearby and insular municipalities. Like most districts in Texas it is independent of the city of Houston and all other municipal and county jurisdictions. The district has its headquarters in the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (HMWESC) in Houston.

About the district

Houston Independent School District is located in Harris County, TX
Houston ISD is located in Houston, Texas, which is also a seat of Harris County, Texas. According to the 2010 US Census, Houston is home to 2,099,451 residents.[2] Alief encompasses 36.6 square miles near the southeastern Texas border.


In terms of graduation rate, average household income and poverty rate, Houston underperformed in these areas. The graduation rate was 74.4% compared to 80.4% statewide. The average household income was $44,124 compared to $50,920 in the entire state. Houston had a poverty rate of 21.5%, while the poverty rate for Texas was 17.0%.[2]

Racial Demographics, 2010[2]
Race Houston city (%) Texas (%)
White 50.5 70.4
Hispanic or Latino 43.8 37.6
Black or African American 23.7 11.8
Asian 6.0 3.8
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.7 0.7
Two or More Races 3.3 2.7


Superintendent Terry Grier joined the district in 2009, following stints with the San Diego Unified School District, California and the Guilford County Schools, North Carolina.[3] Since his appointment, the Board of Education has extended his contract through June 2016. Grier is widely recognized for his leadership in turning around failing schools.[4]

Superintendent salary

According to records received through the Texas Public Information Act, Houston ISD had one of the top ten highest paid school superintendents in the state. Abelardo Saavedra received $314,554 in base pay for the 2007/08 year.[5]

School board

The Houston Independent School District is overseen by a nine-member board elected by district to four-year staggered terms. [6]

Alief ISD Board of Trustees
Member Role Position # Term Ends
Anna Eastman President District 1 2013
Juliet Stipeche First Vice President District 8 2015
Manuel Rodriguez, Jr. Second Vice President District 3 2015
Rhonda Skillern-Jones Secretary District 2 2015
Michael L. Lunceford Assistant Secretary District 5 2013
Paula Harris Trustee District 4 2015
Lawrence Marshall Trustee District 9 2013
Greg Meyers Trustee District 6 2013
Harvin C. Moore Trustee District 7 2013

School board elections

See also: Houston Independent School District elections (2013)

Five seats were up for election on the Houston Independent School District board on November 5, 2013. Districts 1, 5, 6, 7 and 9 were held by Board President Anna Eastman, Assistant Secretary Michael L. Lunceford, Greg Meyers, Harvin C. Moore and Lawrence Marshall, respectively.


Trustee Larry Marshall has to answer questions about business conflicts of interest after it was revealed he accepted consulting work with a district contractor, Community Education Partners (CEP) who'll earn $13.7 million this year to run an alternative school for HISD. Marshall stated that he acted within school district policies during his time as a consultant and did not vote on any business concerning CEP. It was not until 2004 when the new conflict of interest policy was drafted, and Marshall quit his consultant job when it was enacted.[7] During his consultant work Marshall earned $72,000.[8]

Marshall and Mike Lunceford received $3,000 in donations from Randle Richardson, the founder and current owner of Community Educational Partners, and Phil Baggett, a chief executive at CEP, a vendor for the district whose contract was renewed during the same months the donations were given.[9]

Trustee Paula Harris’ campaign finance report listed a $500 contribution from the Bracewell and Giuliani PAC Committee and a $500 donation from Thompson and Horton LLP, both law firms that represent the district.[9]

TEA scores
Harvin Moore has expressed concern about the TEA current rating system during board meetings, and has also voiced his concerns in his blog saying:

Each year, state standards boards have announced that they are lowering their ‘cut scores’ (number of questions a child must answer correctly to pass) for various noble reasons, usually because ‘the test questions are harder this year, so the same level of proficiency is reflected by a smaller number of correct answers.

Gifts from district vendors

Texas Watchdog revealed that school officials have been accepting gifts from vendors. The gifts offered and/or accepted included: a birthday party at a seafood and steak restaurant, Houston Rockets playoff tickets, checks totaling $30,000, a personal loan, trips on a private yacht and expenses-paid travel to conferences in Las Vegas.[10]

HISD’s policies dating back to 2004 forbid gifts worth more than $50, and the practices cost the school $850,000 in federal sanctions, but yielded no criminal charges.[10] The US Department of Justice considered accepting the gifts violated competitive-bidding rules and cut off federal funding through the E-rate technology program.[11]

Frank Trifilio, head of the now-defunct Analytical Computer Services, has said his company was wrongly accused in the scandal. Trifilio believes the school district confused his company with subcontractors Acclaim Professional Services, owned by Larry Lehmann, and Micro Systems Enterprises, where Frankie Wong was president. Wong recently prison for his role in a bribery scandal involving the Dallas Independent School District.[12]

As a result of the scandal, the school district is considering a conflict-of-interest policy which would bar any gifts of more then token value, a signature confirming compliance with this policy and a "code of silence" for an employees associated with bidding companies.[13]

In December of 2010, the school began receiving funds from the E-rate program again, in the sum of $1.3 million.[14]


Houston Independent School District publishes its annual budget on its website.[15]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2012-2013 $937,337,252 49.9% $202,451,682 10.8% $426,965,434 22.7% $256,925,034 13.7% $55,336,286 2.9% $1,879,015,688
Averages: $937,337,252 50% $202,451,682 11% $426,965,434 23% $256,925,034 14% $55,336,286 3% $1,879,015,688


Paula Harris, president of the Houston school district trustees e-mailed, Stephen Pottinger, the district's then-procurement director about a business run by one of her best friends, records show -- five months before the school board voted to approve $8 million in contracts including the friend's company. [16]

Longtime Houston Independent School District trustee Larry Marshall met earlier this year with Dr. Kenneth D. Wells, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier and the school district's chief financial officer "about engaging Dr. Wells' company for health consulting and possible savings," according to e-mails and other documents released by the school district this morning. Marshall accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Costa Rica last year to learn about "medical tourism," which set the stage for the doctor to land a no-bid consulting gig with the school district worth up to $640,000. [17]

HISD recently cut ties with e-Rate after learning the company was once partly owned by William “Bill” Edwards, HISD's HISD’s assistant superintendent for technology who was forced to resign in 2005.[18]

Schools in Houston ISD

Houston Independent School District operates 279 schools listed below in alphabetical order.[19]

Academic performance

HISD's performance in the late 1990s and 2000s was dubbed the "Houston Miracle" by the media. A 2003 state audit of HISD's performance caused more controversy. One of the district's most publicized accomplishments during the Paige era was a dramatic reduction in dropout rates. When 16 secondary schools, including Sharpstown High School, were audited, it was found that most of the students who left school from those schools in 2000-2001 should have been counted as dropouts, but were not. It was found that the administrators at Sharpstown deliberately changed the dropout rate at the school. The Sharpstown controversy resulted in a recommendation to label the entire HISD as "unacceptable." Former Sharpstown Assistant Principal Robert Kimball, found by an external investigator to have been involved in the false reporting, asserts that HISD coerced administrators at many schools to lie on dropout rates. HISD asserts that the fraud is only contained to Sharpstown, and that the false statistics at other schools were caused by confusion related to the state's system of tracking students who leave school.[20][21] An article in The New York Times disputed the accuracy and usage of survey figures from Yates High School and Sharpstown High School indicating that close to 100% of the students intended to attend universities.[22]

In 2010, the school agreed to spend $275,000 reviewing its magnet schools performance.[23] The review found that the $17 million program for magnet school has some serious problems. Among them were:[24]

  • Lack of funding
  • No standard magnet guidelines or requirements
  • No definition of a “successful” magnet school
  • Inconsistent quality of magnet programs


The school district has forwarded an investigation which indicated testing improprieties and missing assets from Key Middle School onto the Harris County District Attorney’s office.[25] Kashmere High Assistant Principal Dolores Westmoreland and former Key Middle Principal Mable Caleb retired shortly after the allegations were made.[26]

Apollo program

The school district has secured $23 million in funds for the Apollo 20 program, which would reach out to help 20 troubled schools, but recently raised the amount of funds needed to $29.5 to cover central office costs.[27] Funds for the program thus far are from:

  • $28 million three-year Title 1 Priority Schools Grant from the Texas Education Agency awarded Aug. 12 to six Apollo 20 schools. That is $9.3 million annually.
  • $100,000 private donation from Bank of America on Aug. 27.
  • $100,000 private donation from Wells Fargo Bank on Sept. 22.
  • $950,000 from the Brown Foundation.

Administrative officials

An HISD teacher specialist for Project GRAD moonlighted as executive director of Project GRAD, which has a $1.86 million contract with the Houston district. Project GRAD, is a program that attempts to prevent low-income children from dropping out of school.[28] As an employee for the district Ann Stiles earned $67,318 in 2010 plus benefits.[28] As director of Project GRAD, Stiles earned $120,201 in 2008, bringing her total earnings to $187,000 annually.[29] Stiles has since submitted a letter of resignation.[28]

Another HISD employee, a former accounting coordinator, Lydia M. Kinchen, was sentenced to 8 years in prison in 2010 after stealing $100,000 from the school district.[30]

Also, a former Yates High School Principal, Ronald Mumphery, is under investigation for sexaul misconduct.[31] The cases date back to the 1980's and range from allegations of staff members exchanging sexual favors for preferential treatment and overtime pay to Mumphery sexually assualting a 17-year-old cheerleader and student back in 1984.[31] Mumphery earned $109,000 last year and was recently accused of "professional misconduct" before retiring a few days later. Mumphery denies all accusations against him and was later cleared due to insufficient evidence against him.[32]

Assistant Principal Robert Kimball was never implicated by an outside investigator as being involved in the falsification of records. He was the whistleblower who exposed the false report of dropouts. Just do a search of Robert Kimball and Houston Schools. He sued the District for retaliation and the District settled with him and paid him $90,000. He was not terminated or has any record of a reprimand.


Hurricane Katrina

In 2005, HISD enrolled evacuees from the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina who were residing in Houston. The Houston Astrodome, the shelter used for hurricane evacuees, is located within the HISD boundaries.

Many Katrina evacuees stayed for the long term within the Houston ISD boundaries. Walnut Bend Elementary School's enrollment increased from around 600 to around 800 with the addition of 184 evacuees; Walnut Bend, out of all of the Houston-area elementary schools, took the most Katrina victims [33]. Nearby Paul Revere Middle School, located in the Westchase district, gained 137 Katrina victims. Revere, out of all of the Houston-area middle schools, has taken in the most Katrina victims.

Houston ISD's "West Region," which includes Walnut Bend and Revere, had about 1/5th of Houston ISD's schools but contained more than half of the 5,500 evacuees in Houston schools.

At the start of the 2006-2007 school year, around 2,900 Hurricane Katrina evacuees were still enrolled in Houston ISD schools. Around 700 of them were held back due to poor academic performance. 41% of evacuee 10th graders and 52% of evacuee juniors were held back.

According to the October 2006 "For Your Information" newsletter, the eleven HISD schools which took the largest number of evacuees were:

  • Elementary schools: Bonham, Foerster, McNamara, Walnut Bend Elementary School
  • Middle schools: Fondren, Revere, Sharpstown Middle School
  • High schools: Lee High School, Sharpstown High School, Westbury High School, Westside High School

A University of Houston study concluded that the presence of Katrina evacuees did not impact the test score grades of native Houstonian students.[34]

Declining enrollment figures in the 2000s

The preliminary fall enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year (203,163) had 7,000 fewer students than the 2005-2006 student enrollment (210,202), resulting in a more than 3% loss; the 2006-2007 enrollment was a 2.5% decrease from the fall 2004-2005 enrollment (208,454). From the preliminary 2006-2007 student count, the West and Central regions lost the most students, with a combined 4,400 student loss.[35] The enrollment reported for the year in February 2007 was 202,936.[36]


In 2007 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Communications Commission, and the United States Department of Justice began an investigation probing relationships between certain technology vendors and HISD. The vendors worked under the auspices of E-Rate, a federal program that offers cut-rate technology to schools and libraries.

Vendors offered gifts such as checks totaling $30,000, boating trips, Houston Rockets playoff tickets and a birthday party to employees in HISD's technology department, and in some cases employees accepted the gifts, a 2008 memo from an outside lawyer for HISD to Justice Department officials said. Micro Systems Enterprises, Analytical Computer Services, and Hewlett-Packard offered gifts ranging from the cash to trinkets including fanny packs. [37]

In a separate case involving some of the same players, Frankie Wong, former president of Micro Systems, and two Dallas Independent School District administrators received criminal charges.[38]

Free breakfast programs

In the 2000s HISD established "Breakfast in the Classroom." The program was replaced with a free breakfast program based in cafeterias.[39] The Houston Press published a story about accounting irregularities regarding a program; the State of Texas announced it would investigate the program. On February 4, 2005, Abelardo Saavedra announced that the program was suspended.[40] By 2006 HISD resumed its free breakfast programs.[41]

Public employee salaries

Main article: Houston Independent School District employee salaries

Contact information

Houston ISD seal.gif
Houston Independent School District
4400 West 18th Street
Houston, TX 77092
Phone: (713) 556-6000

Elected Officials P
Administrative Officials
Contracts P
Public Records N
600px-Red x.png
Background Checks

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

Website evaluation

This was last evaluated of Feb. 28, 2013.

The good

  • Elected Officials
    • Email addresses are posted for elected officials. [42]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting calendar, agendas and minutes are posted. [43]
    • Minutes are archived to 2010. [44]
  • Administration
    • Contact information for administration officials is posted in department pages. [45]
  • Budget
    • Current budget is posted. [46]
    • Budgets are archived to 2008.
    • The District's checkbook register is online.[47]
  • Audits
    • Most recent financial audit is posted. [48]
    • Audits are archived to 2007.
  • Contracts
    • Current bids are posted. [49]
  • Academics
    • District academic achievement is posted, including district report card and dropout rate. [50]
  • Taxes
    • Local tax rates, including levy information, are posted. [51]
  • Background Checks
    • Information on criminal background checks for all district employees is posted. [52]
    • Information on criminal background check for volunteers is posted. [53]

The bad

  • Elected Officials
    • Telephone numbers and addresses for elected officials is not posted.
  • Contracts
    • Awarded bids are not posted.
    • Labor contracts are not posted.
  • Public Records
    • Information on how to file a public records request is not posted, or is very difficult to find.

See also

External links


  1. General Information Accessed September 4, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Quick Facts Accessed August 19, 2013]
  3. "Houston Chronicle", Grier trailed by both acrimony and accolades, Aug. 30, 2009
  4. Terry B. Grier, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools Accessed September 5, 2013
  5. 2007-2008 Texas Superintendent Salaries
  6. Board of Education Accessed September 5, 2013
  7. Texas Watchdog, Video: HISD Trustee Larry Marshall defends prior consulting gig with Community Education Partners, an HISD vendor, July 23, 2010
  8. Texas Watchdog, HISD alternative school provider Community Education Partners releases 2001-03 contract documents with Trustee Larry Marshall, Aug. 25, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 Texas Watchdog, HISD trustees accept $3,000 in campaign donations from vendor CEP during debate on CEP’s contract renewal, Aug. 10, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 Texas Watchdog, Gift-giving culture flourished at HISD; vendors lavished cash, dinners and tickets on employees, July 20, 2010
  11. Houston Chronicle, Memo details costly perks and gifts for HISD employees, July 26, 2010
  12. Texas Watchdog, Owner of company implicated in HISD E-Rate ethics probe denies giving gifts to employees, Aug. 13, 2010
  13. Texas Watchdog, HISD weighs bans on gifts, communication with vendors prior to contract awards, Sept. 14, 2010
  14. Texas Watchdog, Five years after scandal prompted funding freeze, E-Rate money returns to Houston ISD, Dec. 7, 2010
  15. Houston Independent School District, "Budget Summary," Accessed November 26, 2013
  16. Texas Watchdog, HISD procurement chief discussed trustees president Paula Harris' pal's firm in business: E-mail, Aug. 4, 2011
  17. Texas Watchdog, Houston schools trustee Larry Marshall set stage for doc's $600,000 no-bid contract with HISD, Aug. 2, 2011
  18. Texas Watchdog, Houston ISD cuts ties with local tech firm connected to figure from e-Rate vendor scandal, Feb. 8, 2011
  19. School Search Accessed September 6, 2013
  20. "CBS News, The 'Texas Miracle', Feb. 11, 2009,
  21. "Houston Chronicle, Sharpstown had breakdown
  22. The New York Times, For Houston Schools, College Claims Exceed Reality, Aug. 28, 2003.
  23. Texas Watchdog, HISD magnet programs to undergo performance reviews, Sept. 24, 2010
  24. Texas Watchdog, Review of HISD's magnet schools states the obvious: Problems with funding, standards in Houston's public schools, Nov. 1, 2010
  25. Texas Watchdog, HISD forwarded Key Middle School investigation to DA, Sept. 10, 2010
  26. no Texas Watchdog, Who's following up on the Key Middle School investigation report?, April 1, 2010
  27. Texas Watchdog, HISD's Apollo 20 program needs to raise just $6M more -- but cost is up $9M, Oct. 7, 2010
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Texas Watchdog, HISD employee double-dips with contractor to earn $187K a year; Grier: ‘Probably an ethical issue’, Aug. 11, 2010
  29. Texas Watchdog, Project GRAD program --- where HISD administrator moonlights as executive director --- gets funding boost from HISD, Aug. 13, 2010
  30. Texas Watchdog, HISD takes hard stance in case of employee theft, but no legal remedy pursued against E-Rate employees, Sept. 10, 2010
  31. 31.0 31.1 Texas Watchdog, Former Yates High Principal Ronald Mumphery accused of sexual harassment, HISD records show, Nov. 5, 2010
  32. Texas Watchdog, Former principal of Houston ISD's Yates High, Ronald Mumphery, will not face criminal charges: HISD, Jan 10, 2010
  33. Louisiana students distributed unevenly, Houston Chronicle Oct. 17, 2005
  34. UH study finds no Katrina effect on grades, Houston Chronicle, Sep. 12, 2009
  35. Houston Chronicle, HISD enrollment down by 7,000 for fall semester, Nov. 17, 2006
  36. [http://www.houstonisd.org/HISDConnectDS/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=62c6757761efc010VgnVCM10000052147fa6RCRD&vgnextchannel=2e2b2f796138c010VgnVCM10000052147fa6RCRD HISD Connect, 2006–2007 Demographics, Feb. 2007]
  37. Texas Watchdog, Gift-giving culture flourished at HISD; vendors lavished cash, dinners and tickets on employees, Jul. 20, 2010
  38. KHOU-TV, HISD under federal investigation
  39. Houston Press, Eating It Up, Nov. 4, 2004.
  40. Houston Press, On Second Thought, Feb. 10, 2005
  41. Houston Independent School District, New Free Breakfast Program Is Big Attraction for HISD Students, Nov. 14, 2006
  42. School Board Contact
  43. Meetings
  44. Minutes
  45. Departments
  46. Budget
  47. Checkbook Register
  48. CAFR
  49. Bids
  50. [http://www.houstonisd.org/Page/33000 Academics}
  51. Taxes
  52. Employee background checks
  53. Volunteer Background Check

Portion of this article were taken from Wikipedia.