Education

Viewpoints: City should not overlook Austin ISD in CodeNext talks

Viewpoints: City should not overlook Austin ISD in CodeNext talks

“We need a seat at the table.” That is the message the Austin Independent School District is sending to the city of Austin with a proposed resolution regarding CodeNext that trustees are expected to approve Monday. A firm statement outlining the district’s position on CodeNext is needed because city officials thus far have overlooked – if not ignored — Austin ISD&rsquo...
Texas special education chief fired after questioning no-bid contract

Texas special education chief fired after questioning no-bid contract

The state’s new director of special education was fired Wednesday, one day after she filed a federal complaint claiming the Texas Education Agency wrongly entered into a $4.4 million, no-bid contract with a Georgia company to analyze private records for children with disabilities. Laurie Kash asked the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General on Tuesday to investigate...
Texas fires special education director, citing civil suit in Oregon

Texas fires special education director, citing civil suit in Oregon

The Texas Education Agency has fired its special education director. Laurie Kash, who started work in August, was recently accused in a lawsuit of trying to cover up child abuse allegations while she worked as a special education director at Rainier School District in Oregon. The $1.85 million suit claims that Kash ordered several employees to keep quiet about the child’s allegations. &ldquo...
Austin school district chooses buyers for high-profile properties

Austin school district chooses buyers for high-profile properties

Austin school leaders are moving forward with the sales of the district’s downtown headquarters, the Baker Center and the Millett Opera House (home of the Austin Club), among other surplus properties. The school board next Monday is scheduled to vote on the sales of these properties: • The Carruth Center, the 2.7-acre district headquarters on West Sixth Street, for $36.5 million to...
AISD moves to sell headquarters to developer, Baker Center to Alamo Drafthouse

AISD moves to sell headquarters to developer, Baker Center to Alamo Drafthouse

Austin school leaders are moving forward with the high-profile sales of district headquarters, the Baker Center and the Millett Opera House (home of the Austin Club), among other surplus properties. The school board on Nov. 27 is scheduled to vote on the sales of the following properties: • the Carruth Center, the 2.7 acre district headquarters on West 6th Street, for $36.5 million to Schlosser...
Campaign cash, outreach to parents fueled big Austin school bond win

Campaign cash, outreach to parents fueled big Austin school bond win

Even staunch supporters of the Austin school district’s $1.1 billion bond were surprised when it passed with 72 percent of the vote on Nov. 7. The single, all-or-nothing proposition was the largest ever approved by Austin residents, even as angst grows over ever-escalating property taxes. Those who lobbied for it stuck to the basics, with a data-driven phone campaign to boost turnout...
Mom, girls sought by police had fled foster care danger, dad says

Mom, girls sought by police had fled foster care danger, dad says

Fear for her daughters’ safety inside a South Austin foster home prompted Sarah Marcella Jordan of Cedar Park to violate a court order last Tuesday when she picked them up after school and drove them to Florida, triggering a multistate search that ended in her arrest, her husband said. Authorities found Jordan’s daughters safe in Florida on Thursday, but not before Central Texas law enforcement...
Teacher accused of telling student ‘go back to Mexico’ is put on leave

Teacher accused of telling student ‘go back to Mexico’ is put on leave

About 120 parents Friday morning packed the library at Fulmore Middle School, seeking answers days after a protest in which students accused a teacher of telling a student to “go back to Mexico.” At the parent meeting Friday, parents pushed for details on what actions the district had taken against the teacher, some calling for her to be fired or removed from the campus, according...
Missing sisters found safe, but questions about case’s handling remain

Missing sisters found safe, but questions about case’s handling remain

As the welcome news came Thursday that three missing Austin-area sisters had been found safe in Florida, questions remained about how long it took school officials to learn one child was missing and why authorities didn’t send out a statewide Amber Alert. Two of the sisters had been in foster care since Nov. 3, when authorities learned their mother had allowed their father, 46-year-old Anthony...
Hays school board chooses Eric Wright as next district leader

Hays school board chooses Eric Wright as next district leader

The Hays school board has tapped Fredricksburg’s Superintendent Eric Wright to lead the district. Hays trustees on Wednesday night named Wright lone finalist over the 19,860-student district. State law requires a 21-day waiting period before the board can offer him a contract. “This is a dynamic time for our district and we have found a leader to match the excitement and challenges we...
Mother of missing Austin students arrested in Florida; girls are safe, police say

Mother of missing Austin students arrested in Florida; girls are safe, police say

6:30 p.m. update: A woman accused of abducting her daughters from Austin schools Tuesday has been detained in Florida and the girls are safe, Austin school police officials said Thursday.  AISD police did not say where exactly Sarah Marcella Jordan, 38, was arrested. She is charged with interference with child custody.  Police say Jordan and her 16-year-old daughter, who was not an Austin...
Austin students protest, accuse teacher of saying ‘go back to Mexico’

Austin students protest, accuse teacher of saying ‘go back to Mexico’

At least 60 students walked out of a South Austin middle school and circled the school building Wednesday afternoon in protest of a teacher’s culturally insensitive comments to a student, according to students and school officials. Several Fulmore Middle School students who participated in the walkout Wednesday told the American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a social and...
Hays CISD names Fredericksburg’s Eric Wright as superintendent finalist

Hays CISD names Fredericksburg’s Eric Wright as superintendent finalist

The Hays school board Wednesday night tapped Fredricksburg’s Superintendent Eric Wright to lead the district. Trustees named Wright lone finalist over the 19,860-student district. State law requires a 21-day waiting period before the board can offer him a contract. “This is a dynamic time for our district and we have found a leader to match the excitement and challenges we face,&rdquo...
Texas State fraternity was under investigation before pledge’s death

Texas State fraternity was under investigation before pledge’s death

The death of a Texas State University student who attended an off-campus social event hosted by a fraternity could result in criminal charges, but no decision will be made until an extensive investigation is completed, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp told the American-Statesman on Wednesday. “Any death in our community we take seriously, and especially the death of a young person like this...
Teacher told student ‘Go back to Mexico,’ Fulmore Middle School protesters say

Teacher told student ‘Go back to Mexico,’ Fulmore Middle School protesters say

4 p.m. update: Several students who walked out of Fulmore Middle School on Wednesday told the American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a Social and Emotional Learning class told a student, who was speaking Spanish at the time, to “go back to Mexico.” The teacher said this about two weeks ago, according to students who were in her classroom at the time, and some...
Gas leak reported at Graham Elementary School’s loading dock

Gas leak reported at Graham Elementary School’s loading dock

Children were evacuated from Graham Elementary School on Tuesday after a natural gas leak on a loading dock, Austin fire officials said. Fire officials reported the incident at 5:30 p.m. Officials evacuated children who were still at school at that time. By 6:15 p.m., fire officials said crews plugged the broken valve, and the leak had stopped. The school is in Northeast Austin at 11211 Tom Adams...
AISD to change Confederate school names, even if community disagrees

AISD to change Confederate school names, even if community disagrees

Austin school district leaders will move ahead to rename five Austin campuses with ties to the Confederacy, even if some school communities push back against the decision. School Superintendent Paul Cruz told trustees Monday night that while it is early in the process, the district’s intent is to rename the schools. Input from community members would help with selection of the new name...
Coalition of Austin-area schools lifts college readiness rates

Coalition of Austin-area schools lifts college readiness rates

Just over 41 percent of Central Texas high school graduates are ready for college, a double-digit decline from two years ago. Schools in nine Austin-area districts fared slightly better than the statewide average; only 39 percent of Texas graduates in 2016 were ready for college, according to the latest data available from the Texas Education Agency. It’s more than a statistic. Students who...
AISD moves to rename remaining schools with Confederate ties by August

AISD moves to rename remaining schools with Confederate ties by August

Five Austin school district campuses with names tied to the Confederacy will get new names by August under a proposal by district administrators. “The time has come that we address this elephant,” school board President Kendall Pace said Monday. “We don’t need schools named for Confederate soldiers and sympathizers.” Schools to be renamed: • Reagan High School, named...
State board dumps another Mexican-American studies textbook

State board dumps another Mexican-American studies textbook

The State Board of Education rejected on Friday a Mexican-American studies textbook for Texas high school students that members had said wasn’t comprehensive enough and had contained too many errors. Instead the board will start discussions in January on implementing a statewide Mexican-American studies course that could go into effect fall 2020. “I believe it is the will of the body to...

Records ID former LBJ High employee charged with improper relationship

A 27-year-old man lost his job as a teaching assistant at LBJ High School after he was accused of having a relationship with someone identified in court records as a “juvenile female student.” Stephone Mercer is charged with having an improper relationship between an educator and a student. Mercer was booked into the Travis County Jail, then later posted bail on Tuesday, records show....
‘She deserves this’: UT builds custom lectern for student body president

‘She deserves this’: UT builds custom lectern for student body president

Alejandrina Guzman says she’s had to learn to adapt her entire life. Now, according to the University of Texas at Austin student newspaper, she’s the recipient of an inclusive gesture, straight from the school’s carpentry shop. Guzman, the university’s first physically disabled student body president, now uses a custom-made lectern built specifically for her needs, ...
Viewpoints: Voters show overwhelming support for modern Austin schools

Viewpoints: Voters show overwhelming support for modern Austin schools

If last Tuesday’s election were a football game, Team Austin Independent School District would have spiked the ball with the numbers it put up in passing a $1.05 billion bond package: The bond, the largest ever approved by voters in Central Texas, won with 72 percent of the vote. Superintendent Paul Cruz described the election as historic, saying “The winners are our students.” He...
UT regents postpone final vote on bidding for Los Alamos contract

UT regents postpone final vote on bidding for Los Alamos contract

University of Texas System regents unexpectedly stopped short Thursday of giving the final go-ahead for a proposal to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Regents’ Chairwoman Sara Martinez Tucker gave no reason, simply saying that the matter was being postponed until Nov. 27. Other than her brief comment, the regents did not discuss...
NEW INFO: Court records ID former LBJ High employee charged with having relationship with student

NEW INFO: Court records ID former LBJ High employee charged with having relationship with student

A 27-year-old man lost his job as a teaching assistant at LBJ High School after he was accused of having a relationship with someone identified in court records as a “juvenile female student.” Stephone Mercer is charged with having an improper relationship between an educator and a student. Mercer was booked into the Travis County Jail, then later posted bail on Tuesday, records...
Texas panel gives initial thumbs down to Mexican-American textbook

Texas panel gives initial thumbs down to Mexican-American textbook

The State Board of Education on Wednesday tentatively rejected another Mexican-American studies textbook for Texas high school students over concerns that it isn’t comprehensive and contains errors. If the board rejects the book in a final vote Friday, it will be the second time in as many years the board has turned down a Mexican-American studies textbook. Last year, the board dumped a textbook...

Austin school leaders will ‘move swiftly’ to launch $1.1B bond projects

The day after voters gave overwhelming approval to the Austin district’s $1.1 billion bond measure, school leaders said they will move swiftly to get the bond projects off the ground. The bond, the largest ever approved by voters in Central Texas, won with 72 percent of the vote. It will pay to rebuild multiple schools, construct new campuses and address overcrowding in a district where the...
Another Mexican-American studies textbook tentatively rejected

Another Mexican-American studies textbook tentatively rejected

The State Board of Education on Wednesday tentatively rejected a Mexican-American studies textbook for Texas high school students. This the second time in as many years the board has turned down a Mexican-American studies textbook. Last year, the board dumped a textbook after scholars, activists and politicians denounced the book as racist. The most recent one “The Mexican American Toolkit&rdquo...
Abbott’s fund awards $6 million to recruit two A&M researchers

Abbott’s fund awards $6 million to recruit two A&M researchers

Two prominent researchers have been recruited to Texas A&M University, thanks in part to $6 million awarded by Gov. Greg Abbott’s university research initiative. Roderic I. Pettigrew will lead A&M’s Engineering Health, or EnHealth, program, which aims to integrate engineering into dentistry, medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine and other health disciplines. He is currently director of...
Voters approve Leander ISD’s $454.4 million bond by wide margin

Voters approve Leander ISD’s $454.4 million bond by wide margin

Voters in Williamson and Travis counties approved by a wide margin the $454.4 million Leander school bond package. With just under 10,000 votes cast, 66 percent supported the bond, while 34 percent voted against the package. It had been 10 years since the Leander school board placed a bond measure on the ballot. Among the projects in the bond: the construction of four new schools in the next four...
Voters approve $1.1B Austin ISD bond, largest in Central Texas history

Voters approve $1.1B Austin ISD bond, largest in Central Texas history

Voters overwhelmingly approved the Austin district’s $1.1 billion bond, the largest bond package to pass in Central Texas history. The final unofficial results showed 66,512 votes cast, with 72 percent in favor of the bond and 28 percent against, or 47,931 votes for and 18,581 votes against. The bond funds will pay to rebuild multiple schools, construct new campuses and address overcrowding...
Regent, wife donate $25 million to UT’s petroleum engineering unit

Regent, wife donate $25 million to UT’s petroleum engineering unit

A University of Texas System regent and his wife have donated $25 million to UT-Austin’s highly ranked petroleum and geosystems engineering department, which henceforth will bear their name. “Regent Jeff Hildebrand and Mindy Hildebrand have a very deep connection to our university that makes this gift so special,” UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said. “It will provide...
Herman: Hail to Texans who helped liberate Nazi concentration camps

Herman: Hail to Texans who helped liberate Nazi concentration camps

I cringed on Saturday when comedian Larry David, hosting “Saturday Night Live,” told a concentration camp joke. Those last three words are a phrase I never thought I’d type. It will always be too soon for concentration camp jokes. Just as it will never be too late to honor those who liberated the camps. RELATED: Larry David criticized for ‘SNL’ Holocaust jokes That&rsquo...
Ethics Commission throws out three exhibits in complaint against AISD

Ethics Commission throws out three exhibits in complaint against AISD

The Texas Ethics Commission won’t consider three of the four issues cited in a complaint against the Austin school district, saying the allegations, if true, don’t constitute violations. The Travis County Taxpayers Union, and community member Karen Flanagan, alleged district employees had violated the Election Code by using public resources to lobby voters to support the school district&rsquo...
Pace: Rebuttal on misleading take of Austin ISD bond package

Pace: Rebuttal on misleading take of Austin ISD bond package

I believe there is nuance in something as complicated as a school district’s bond package or a facilities master plan. The over-simplified claims of naysayers miss salient points. First of all, nothing about the Austin Independent School District bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot is “bloated,” as Roger Falk, an analyst with the Travis County Taxpayers Union, insinuated in an oped...
Austin district $1.1 billion bond package tops Nov. 7 ballot

Austin district $1.1 billion bond package tops Nov. 7 ballot

Voters on Tuesday will decide on the $1.1 billion Austin school district bond package, the largest attempted in Central Texas history. The school bonds would pay to build more than a dozen schools, revamp deteriorating campuses and address overcrowding. The Austin district lumped all of the projects into an all-or-nothing proposition after its voters rejected half of its 2013 bond package, which was...
INFORMING VOTERS: Austin-area school bonds top Nov. 7 ballot measures

INFORMING VOTERS: Austin-area school bonds top Nov. 7 ballot measures

Voters on Tuesday will decide on the $1.1 billion Austin school district bond package, the largest attempted in Central Texas. The bonds would pay to build more than a dozen schools, revamp deteriorating campuses and address overcrowding. The Austin district lumped all of the projects into an all-or-nothing proposition after voters rejected half of its 2013 bond package, which was broken into four...
Viewpoints: Go vote on ballot packed with high-dollar bond packages

Viewpoints: Go vote on ballot packed with high-dollar bond packages

Tuesday is Election Day — and though there are no big-name candidates for office, the ballot does offer several items too important for Austin voters to sit out. We’ve said it time and again: It is during nonpresidential elections when citizens help decide measures with the most direct impact on people’s lives. Eligible voters should not miss their opportunity to make their voices...
McRaven cites ‘perfect storm of bad health’ for brief hospitalization

McRaven cites ‘perfect storm of bad health’ for brief hospitalization

University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven said Friday that he was briefly hospitalized this week but did not have the flu as previously reported. The leader of the 14-campus system said in a statement that he was suffering from a virus the previous week. He said “severe anemia, likely a result” of a chronic form of leukemia, came into play as well. “This past Wednesday morning...
JUST IN: LBJ High employee fired, charged with improper relationship with student, school officials say

JUST IN: LBJ High employee fired, charged with improper relationship with student, school officials say

A former teaching assistant at LBJ High School in Northeast Austin is accused of having an improper relationship with a student, and an arrest warrant has been issued for the former employee, the school’s principal said in an email to parents Friday. The charge is improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony, Principal Sheila Henry said. Austin school district police issued...
Commentary: Why I’ve decided I can’t support the Austin ISD bond

Commentary: Why I’ve decided I can’t support the Austin ISD bond

After analyzing Austin ISD’s massive $1 billion bond, I have concluded this bond shouldn’t be approved. Austin ISD spent $400 million for maintenance over the past 5 years. Another $349 million was approved by voters for repairs in 2013. That works out to an average of $100,000 per month, per school. Yet trustees claim everything is broken. Where’s all that money gone? Austin ISD...
UT Chancellor Bill McRaven confirms he was briefly hospitalized

UT Chancellor Bill McRaven confirms he was briefly hospitalized

University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven said Friday that he was briefly hospitalized this week but did not have the flu as previously reported. The leader of the 14-campus system said in a statement that he was suffering from a virus the previous week. He said severe anemia, likely a result of a chronic form of leukemia, came into play as well. “This past Wednesday morning was the...
Viewpoints: Make your voice heard on two Travis County ballot items

Viewpoints: Make your voice heard on two Travis County ballot items

Judging by early voting results so far, Austin voters have not flocked to the polls to weigh in on the Austin Independent School District’s $1.05 billion bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot, despite ample news coverage and talk on social media about it. Nor have they moved in masses to cast ballots on Travis County $184.9 million bond package, though it contains measures for roads and parks, both...
Group raises $358,000 to fuel Austin school bond campaign

Group raises $358,000 to fuel Austin school bond campaign

A political action committee created to persuade voters to approve the Austin district’s $1.1 billion school bond referendum has raised $358,000, four times the amount raised to lobby in favor of the district’s last bond, in 2013. The stakes are higher for this bond, political watchers say, because two of the four propositions failed four years ago — the first time in at least 25...
Group opposing Austin school bonds misses finance report deadline

Group opposing Austin school bonds misses finance report deadline

A group lobbying against the Austin school district’s $1.1 billion bond referendum failed to file a required campaign finance report earlier this month, violating the election code, according to an ethics complaint filed against the group. The Save East Austin Schools political action committee was required to file a 30-day campaign finance report Oct. 10 with the Texas Ethics Commission and...
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