Recent events have had us asking, is CCISD racist? Probably.
In September 2018, Nykisha Owens received a call from CCISD administrators, who couldn’t get their stories straight about her son, James Collins, a student at Clear Creek High School in League City. Mr. Collins was eventually suspended regarding a sexual harassment allegation, but these charges were never brought to the DA’s office.
In January 2019, despite CCISD promising no retaliation, Mr. Collins was stopped at a school basketball game for allegedly smelling like marijuana. A Galveston County sheriff with no formal field sobriety testing certification administered a trumped-up field sobriety test and declared the 17-year-old to be under the influence. However, no paraphernalia was found on the teenager.
Mr. Collins was sent to disciplinary school for 30 days, even though a drug test came back negative.
With all that evidence, you’d think Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Karen Engle would have overturned his suspension. You’d be wrong.
CCISD may be punishing African-American students more harshly than their peers. According to published reports, 28 African-American students and 24 white students from Clear Creek High School were placed into disciplinary school in the 2017-2018 school year. However, African-American students number only 263 out of 2,348 students at Clear Creek High School. State data shows that 1,140 students at Clear Creek High School are white.
A Bungled Level 4 Hearing
Mr. Collins, Ms. Owens, and his family took the fight up to the CCISD Board of Trustees on April 22, 2019 as a Level 4 Grievance. Their mistake? They chose a private hearing. CCISD was supposed to record the proceedings. Trustee Jay Cunningham (who is African-American, and a member of the National Black MBA Association Houston Chapter) was in charge of the audio recorder. Either through gross incompetence or intentionally (our money is on the latter), the proceedings did not record.
So much for a fair hearing.
Needless to say, Mr. Collins’s suspension was not overturned and remains on his record.
The NAACP Comes to CCISD
As it seems the only way to get CCISD’s attention is to protest, a crowd formed outside the May 20, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting to protest how Mr. Collins’s case was handled. During the Board meeting, a member of the local NAACP chapter spoke about the bungled case and the disproportionate number of African-American students punished by CCISD.
Ms. Owens spoke about the seemingly random and very disparate policies regarding marijuana use (30 days in disciplinary school) vs. vaping (3 days of in-school suspension).
And the public comment portion closed with a chant of “No justice, no peace!” At least a dozen members of the local NAACP chapter were in attendance.
No action could be taken by the current Board, as the Level 4 Grievance is the last stop. The public speakers merely were bringing potential racism into the spotlight.
Is CCISD racist? The actions of Ms. Engle, along with the Board of Trustees members seated on April 22 (Ann Hammond, Jay Cunningham, Dr. Laura DuPont, Page Rander, Jennifer Broddle, Arturo Sanchez, Chris Reed) would suggest so.
Remember, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And this is a lot of smoke, folks.
Updated to add: This isn’t the first time CCISD has been accused of racism. A complaint went all the way up to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. If you read this letter, you’ll see how CCISD basically engaged in obstruction of justice by not providing information to the OCR.