Blueford-Daniels and Allen win HISD runoff elections

Runoff elections for the District II and District IV open seats on the Houston Independent School District (HISD) school board were held Saturday, December 14, since no candidate in those districts received more than 50% of the vote during the November 5 general election. Katherine Blueford-Daniels defeated John Gibbs Sr. in District II, and Patricia Allen defeated Matthew Barnes in District IV. In the general election, incumbents Sergio Lira (District III) and Diana Davila (District VIII) lost their re-election bids outright to Daniela Hernandez and Judith Cruz, respectively.

On November 6, the day after the general election, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath notified the district of his decision to appoint a board of managers to replace the elected school board. Morath cited a Texas Education Agency investigation into the board and a record of poor academic performance at one of the district’s high schools. A state-appointed board would take over governance of the district with the elected board functioning as non-voting members. Prior to Morath’s announcement, HISD lawyers filed a request for a preliminary injunction, asking the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to prevent state intervention. A ruling has not yet been issued.

School board candidates and elected board members may apply to be on the state-appointed board. As of December 6, each of the runoff candidates other than Blueford-Daniels had either applied or said they would apply for a spot on the board. Members-elect Daniela Hernandez (District III) and Judith Cruz (District VIII) wrote in the Houston Chronicle, “In Districts 3 and 8, we have a clear mandate for change by winning 64 percent of the vote over the incumbent trustees. … We ask Gov. Greg Abbott and Morath to embrace democracy and uphold the voice of the voters and appoint us to serve on the board of managers.”

As of the 2018-2019 school year, HISD was the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest school district in the United States, serving 209,772 students in 280 schools with a budget of $2.04 billion.

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