A Case Study on the Annexation of the North Forest Independent School District by the Houston Independent School District
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Abstract Background: The challenges confronting a school district to meet state or federal standards and regulations can be daunting, and the failure to meet them can have serious consequences. If a district fails to meet the standards over a sustained period of time the consequences may possibly lead up to and include the district being consolidated, annexed, and abolished. This has raised questions regarding how districts who have consistently failed to meet standards operate. Studies on the consolidation and annexation of failing school districts are minimal to nonexistent. This study seeks to add to the lack of literature, and inform educational leaders on the process and lessons learned by the largest district in Texas’ annexation of a smaller contiguous district. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to investigate, examine, and gain an understanding of the causes and conditions, particularly as they relate to the district’s social, cultural, and political context that led to the abolition of the North Forest Independent School District (NFISD). The purpose of the study also includes developing a rubric for use by a district which might be in a similar situation as the North Forest Independent School District (NFISD) was at the time of its dissolution, thus providing guidance on what to avoid or correct. Methods: The study will follow a qualitative research design, utilizing a single-case study methodology, with interview methods. Six participants were selected who were stakeholders nearest the time of the NFISD abolition and subsequent annexation to HISD. This case study was guided by the following research questions: (a) What were the causes and conditions that precipitated the annexation of the North Forest Independent School District by the Houston Independent School District? (b) What actions did leaders, at all levels, take to prevent the annexation? (c) What can other districts and school leaders learn from the annexation of the North Forest Independent School District? Results: The study revealed eleven emergent themes. I have distilled the emergent themes into three major themes: a) Politics and Motives; b) Culture of Dysfunction; and c) Organizational Inefficiency. Conclusions: This study was designed to examine the causes and conditions that led to the abolition of the North Forest Independent School District and its annexation into the Houston Independent School District. Interview by interview I began to realize that structurally it was a district as most other Texas public school districts. At the same time, however, I began to realize that it is so much more than the district’s organizational structure, it is about a culture, a value system and practices that give focus to the work of the district. While the physical and organizational structures are essential, it is from the attitudes, the intangibles that the superintendent, board, administrators, teachers, and all other personnel derive their ethic and way to function.