During a Houston Independent School District meeting Tuesday night, the discussion became heated, resulting in multiple arrests and even one mother being physically dragged out of the venue by police.
The topic of contention was regarding the prospect of a charter school company, Energized for STEM Academy, taking over temporary management of ten of the district’s failing schools.
Roughly 100 people attended the meeting, which ended in adjournment without a vote after talks became too elevated to maintain decorum — repeated chants of “no more sellouts” and several interruptions prohibited the trustees from continuing discussions.
The scene became more chaotic when a number of parents refused to leave. Some were detained and arrested under charges ranging from misdemeanor criminal trespass to interfering with duties of a public servant.
Two parents weren’t released until the following morning, but all charges were later dropped. A police officer sustained minor injuries in the incident.
One mother, Jenny Espeseth, was pulled out of the room by law enforcement. She has first and fifth-grade children who attend school in the district.
Parents, activists, and teachers’ union members expressed their opposition to the proposal of the charter school company stepping in as a possible solution, expressing fears that seasoned teachers might lose their jobs, and that the charter system won’t be able to meet the needs of special education students.
But options for the failing schools are limited — if the charter school partnership is not approved, the Texas Education Agency could step in to take them over.
In response to Tuesday’s incident, the Houston ISD released a statement saying that “While the district appreciates and shares the passion the community has for the students and schools and welcomes public input, audience members are expected to be respectful and observe decorum so that their views may be heard and appreciated.”