Pearce, Scott and HB3
Did commissioner of education ignore legislative intent of last session's accountability reforms?
By Richard Whittaker, 2:58PM, Wed. Jul. 8, 2009
When Commissioner of Education Robert Scott ordered the closure of Johnston High School, he kept claiming his hands were tied by law. But when he informed AISD that he's closing Pearce Middle School, not only have his hands been untied, but the closure is more brutally abrupt.
Last year, Scott contacted AISD on June 4 to inform them he was closing Johnston. That meant the Board of Trustees had plenty of time to implement their repurposing plan. This time, he sent the closure letter to new Superintendent Meria Carstarphen on July 2: Her second day in office, and just before the July 4 holiday. Even the board didn't find out until late Monday.
In fact, because they hadn't heard from Scott in June, there was a general feeling that Pearce was safe, especially since the legislature added terms into House Bill 3 that gave him discretion on closures.
Pearce is in the district of Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, so she followed that bill closely. Even with those changes, and with the improvements Pearce showed, she said, "It's almost as if the bill didn't pass."
Education Austin President Louis Malfaro is, understandably, livid and said Scott also ignored the improvements at Pearce and the purpose of the bill's growth metric component. "If any school has made its case," he said, "that’s Pearce."