The state’s largest school district now has an all-female board for the first time in its history.
Four new Houston ISD school board members were sworn in Thursday afternoon, joining five current trustees.
The new board is facing a state takeover of HISD, which a judge temporarily stopped.
“No matter what happens, the elected board will stay in place,” said new trustee Judith Cruz of District VIII. “They will lose voting power, but the elected board stays in place.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you roll with what you’ve got,” said new trustee Dr. Patricia K. Allen of District IV. “As long as I’m here, I’m going to be working for the children.”
The new board will also deal with new campus security concerns after the shooting death of student Cesar Cortes at Bellaire High School Tuesday afternoon.
New trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels lost her son, Patrick Charles Murphy, to gun violence in 2006. The 20-year-old was murdered in a case of mistaken identity.
Trustee Blueford-Daniels took her oath Thursday on her son’s Bible. She also held a moment of silence for Cortes after all trustees had been sworn.
“That’s why it becomes bittersweet,” said Blueford-Daniels, who represents HISD District II. “As a mom who’s gone through this, I understand what the family’s going through. So my heart is full and heavy and broken all the same time.”
Blueford-Daniels and other trustees say safety involves not just board policies, but also community accountability.
“We need to have mental health counselors, that kind of thing, but really, the community needs to speak first, and what is it that they feel that their school needs?” Cruz said.
“Maybe working with some of those children on not being afraid to come forward,” said Dr. Allen, responding to a question about specific steps schools could take. “We all have to work as a group. We all have to work as a family. That’s including the children.”
Trustees say because the Bellaire High School shooting is an ongoing investigation, it was tough to immediately know what exactly happened and what specific steps to take to prevent something similar.
However, in spite of the well-publicized division on the prior elected board, this new group promised collaboration with each other and with the community.
The new board held their first public meeting late Thursday afternoon.