Judge's Order Puts Closure Of North Forest School District On Pause For Now

Earlier this school year, a teacher helps a student at Shadydale Elementary in North Forest ISD.
The state closure of the North Forest Independent School District is on pause, for now. An Austin judge issued a temporary restraining order against closure at least until a hearing in two weeks.

Lawyers for North Forest ISD are launching a new legal fight to keep the district open and stop a state shutdown.

Chris Tritico is the district’s lead attorney.

“Today the North Forest Independent School District through itself and two of its trustees sued the Commissioner of Education, alleging that the Commissioner has violated Texas law on multiple occasions during this closure proceeding that we’ve been litigating for the last 18 months.”

Because of those allegations, a judge in Austin issued an order to temporarily halt the closure for 14 days, until a hearing on June 13th.

That’s just two weeks before the merger of North Forest and Houston ISD is supposed to take place on July 1st.

DeEtta Culbertson with the Texas Education Agency says that the agency is confident that they will prevail in closing North Forest.

Still, Tritico is calling the latest order a major step.

It follows another small win for the struggling district.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice asked for more information before it could rule on the merger.

“Part of the problem that the Commissioner has here is they didn’t submit to the Justice Department a plan for merging the voters of North Forest into the Houston Independent School District. And the Justice Department correctly said we can’t rule on any of this if we don’t know what you intend to do.”

Federal authorities have to make sure the closure of North Forest doesn’t violate any voting rights in the predominantly black district.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...