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State Sanctions Force San Antonio ISD's Rodriguez Elementary To Close

Rodriguez Elementary, just east of Our Lady of the Lake University, closed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year due to new state sanctions.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
Rodriguez Elementary, just east of Our Lady of the Lake University, is slated to close after the upcoming school year due to new state sanctions.

Updated 5:07 p.m.

Rodriguez Elementary in the San Antonio Independent School District will likely close at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

According to internal district calculations, the west side elementary failed to meet state academic standards in 2018, subjecting it to new mandatory state sanctions.

A state law going into effect this year requires the Texas Education Commissioner to either close a school or replace the district’s board if the campus fails state standards five years in a row.

SAISD had six schools at risk of facing those consequences, and put plans in place for Stewart Elementary, Ogden Elementary and Irving Middle School.­­

Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the district invested in all six schools in the hope of helping them improve enough to pass, but prioritized Stewart and Ogden because they were the two lowest performing schools in the district last year.

“We never said, ‘Oh, one of them is not going to get out,’ ” Martinez said.

Meanwhile, Stewart Elementary on the south side scored a passing grade, which means it would have avoided sanctions even if SAISD hadn’t signed a controversial contract for an outside charter operator to run the school.

A new law passed last legislative session gives schools a two-year reprieve from state sanctions if it partners with a charter school or other non-profit. Ogden already had a partnership with Relay Graduate School, and the district partnered with New York-based Democracy Prep to earn the same protection for Stewart.

Irving Middle School is being transitioned into the new K-8 Irving Dual Language Academy opening this year on the same campus, so it wouldn’t have been around after this year even if it had failed.

But with preliminary results in for 2018, it’s Rodriguez that fell below the line.

Board President Patti Radle said the district has discussed the elementary school with Education Commissioner Mike Morath, and decided Rodriguez will close at the end of the upcoming school year.

“We had the confidence that it would pull through, and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t,” Radle said. “So now our choice is to work with the community to see what we will do after it’s closed for a year.”

The commissioner could have decided to replace Radle and her fellow board members instead, but that’s not something Martinez or the board wanted.

“To find a board that is as united as we are is not something you find easily,” Radle said. “We feel it’s important to keep a board that is … very focused on the student and not letting some of the things that are out there that could cause controversy, not letting those get in the way.”  

Martinez said the district will work with parents to “find quality options” for the students at Rodriguez, and petition the state legislature for a change to the law so SAISD can open an innovative elementary school at Rodriguez after its closed for a year.

According to district calculations, Rodriguez was one of about 16 schools to fail state standards this year, compared to 19 last year. Ogden is on the bubble, but if it doesn’t meet standards, its partnership with Relay will protect it from consequences.

The other four schools at risk — Stewart, Irving, Miller Elementary and Tafolla Middle School — all passed.

Official outcomes from the Texas Education Agency will be released Wednesday.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille

NOTE: This article was updated with information about Stewart, Ogden and Miller elementary schools, and Tafolla and Irving middle schools.