BILL WOULD CREATE SPECIAL DISTRICT FOR FAILING SCHOOLS
(AUSTIN) — Poorly performing schools could be placed in a special independent school district with other failing schools statewide under a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday. Bill author Senator Royce West of Dallas said he wanted to give the state another option to fix failing schools. "I think this is the right thing to do for students that are trapped in low-performing schools," West told his colleagues.
The special district would be called the Achievement School District (ASD) and it could include any school in the state. If a school was rated as failing for three years in a row, or for two consecutive years and the Commissioner of Education deems that the school district has not taken adequate steps to improve the campus, the Commissioner could place the campus into the ASD. That district would be administered by a single superintendent who would be directed to bring the schools under his or her charge back up to acceptable levels. Once a school is no longer failing, it would move back into its original local district. West said this model has shown promise in other states including Tennessee and Louisiana.
Before putting a school into the ASD, parents of students at the affected school would get a chance to weigh in with the Commissioner of Education. West said that additionally, the local school board could submit a proposal to bring the school back up to acceptable rating, and the Commissioner could approve that plan rather than putting the school into the ASD. The bill doesn't remove any of the other options available to the Commissioner to improve a school, such as making the school a charter or even closing a chronically failing campus.
This is one of a few bills passed by the Senate aimed at finding ways to fix a failing school. Earlier in the session, the Senate approved a bill that lowers the parental trigger time period, permitting parents at a failing school to file a petition with the Commissioner for relief after three, rather than five, years.
The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 2 at 11 a.m.