Austin ISD fails to find partner to help save Mendez Middle School


Time is running out for Mendez Middle School after the Austin school district didn’t receive any response to its request for proposals to help turn around the chronically failing campus.

District administrators last month sought to partner with an outside entity, such as a nonprofit or university, as a way to save Mendez from state closure. The school, located in southeast Austin, has not met academic standards for four consecutive years and could be closed by the state if it fails again this year. The state also could appoint a board of managers to govern the school district if the campus again doesn’t meet standards.

But a new state law, Senate Bill 1882, would give the school a two-year reprieve from state sanctions and more money per student if the district partners with a charter school operator or another outside entity.

Parents and neighbors of the school were vocal about their opposition to partnering with a charter school operator. The request for proposal, which was due by Tuesday, called for a multi-year partnership that included improving student performance, engaging parents and staff members and overseeing an independent governance board for the campus. District leaders hoped to work with an entity that would partner with the district to improve the school’s performance, instead of take over the campus entirely. But the request produced no interest.

District administrators on Tuesday night broke the news to the community members who volunteered to be on the selection committee for the partner.

As the state deadline looms, district leaders must decide whether to quickly put together a new request for proposal or to directly reach out potential partners.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Robert Kibbie, school PTA president. “We’re going to reach out to organizations to see why they didn’t put in a bid for it. We’re hoping to find someone to turn in a bid.”

Kibbie said a couple of nonprofit organizations he had been in touch with said they feared it would be too much work and said the rules being written for SB 1882 were not clear enough for them to determine whether they want to wade into such a partnership.

Kibbie said he’s hoping none of it will be necessary and that the school will improve enough this year under a new principal Chris Jones to meet state accountability standards.

Parent Isabel López, whose son is a seventh grader at the school, said she hopes they find an organization “willing to take on this challenge.”

“We need to work together to make the best of this unfortunate situation,” López said. “THere is a lot of low morale among the staff and the kids with the uncertainty. And we’re pressuring them to perform. Closing the school…that’s the worst fear.”

The working group will meet again late next week to discuss next steps.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Three arrested workers identified in Travis Tax Office fraud case
Three arrested workers identified in Travis Tax Office fraud case

Three employees of the Travis County Tax Office who were arrested Friday amid a fraud investigation are charged with third-degree felonies, according to jail records. Shell Prieto-Reese, 43, and Cathy Wilson, 57, are each charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and forgery, and each have bail posted at $50,000. Susie Alvarez, 43, is charged...
Chance of storms again Monday, but rest of week looks clear
Chance of storms again Monday, but rest of week looks clear

There’s a slight chance the Austin area could see more thunderstorms again Monday, but forecasters say weather for the rest of the week will look nothing like it did Sunday. The weekend wrapped up with showers and thunderstorms developing throughout the day Sunday and a warning that rain levels could reach 5 inches in parts of Travis County....
SANTA FE SCHOOL SHOOTING: Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers
SANTA FE SCHOOL SHOOTING: Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday blamed the Santa Fe High School shooting on “a violent culture where we devalue life,” citing movies and video games, bullying on social media, and abortion. He called for arming teachers as part of the militia envisioned by the Second Amendment. Patrick’s remarks on ABC’s “This Week&rdquo...
Downtown Austin’s ‘Jenga tower’ marks milestone
Downtown Austin’s ‘Jenga tower’ marks milestone

The Independent, a residential high-rise under construction in downtown Austin, has reached its peak height — a milestone for the 58-story building nicknamed the “Jenga tower.” Now standing at its full height of 685 feet, a topping-out ceremony Sunday marks the Independent’s official debut as the tallest building in Austin,...
Texas Digest: Gunfire near Dallas police station prompts more security

DALLAS Gunfire reported near police station Dallas police officials have advised officers to increase security outside the city’s police stations after someone in a vehicle opened fire near a station. Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell told The Dallas Morning News someone was shooting late Saturday night near the city’s Central Division station...
More Stories