Data with a Soul

FBISD Parents and Guardians,

Recently, you may have read a couple of pieces in the Houston Chronicle regarding Fort Bend ISD and our efforts to enforce the state’s truancy laws, including the most recent article that was published in today’s edition.

As I expressed last week, this is a critical issue that we will be discussing with the community in the near future. While it would be inappropriate for the District to comment on pending legislation while it is in the hands of the legislature, I think it is important that the community understand what Fort Bend ISD is doing to prevent truancy and abide by the state’s current compulsory attendance laws, as well as what we are doing to ensure that our disciplinary policies are being applied in a manner that is fair and consistent.

The following editorial is being shared with local publications today. You can also expect to hear more about our efforts to engage with our parents in the coming weeks, and I hope you will participate in these important discussions. I appreciate your active participation in your child’s education – and the community collaboration that makes Fort Bend ISD one of the best in the state.

Charles Dupre


Editorial – Data with a Soul

Fort Bend ISD’s rich cultural diversity is a source of pride and a model for other Districts in Texas. Every day, our teachers, administrators, and students work hard to inspire and equip our students with the tools to succeed in life. As superintendent, I am proud of our efforts to educate the leaders of tomorrow. I am also aware of the educational challenges facing our district and our state.

As an educator and African-American male with two sons, I share concerns about the number of African-American and Hispanic students who are subject to disciplinary actions in Fort Bend ISD and across the state. I am equally concerned about the number of these students who receive truancy complaints. Students cannot learn if they are not at school, if they are consistently late to school, or if they are removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons.

Because equitable treatment is important to me, immediately after joining Fort Bend ISD nearly two years ago, I initiated a comprehensive review of the District’s disciplinary policies, procedures, and practices, including our response to truancy. I am proud to say that our administration has taken steps to ensure that all students are disciplined in a fair and consistent manner.

In the 2013-2014 school year, we established the Department of Student Affairs to make sure student-related policies are applied consistently across our District. We are already seeing positive results. Despite growing by almost 400 students at the high-school level, the incidents of disciplinary action removing students from the classroom for in-school or out-of-school suspensions decreased by 24% during the fall of 2014 as compared to the fall of 2013. Several of our secondary campuses have seen a significant decrease in the number of disciplinary actions removing African-American students from the classroom.

We are also training staff in a restorative discipline model designed to provide students with problem-solving skills that will enable them to self-regulate their own behavior. Restorative discipline includes collaboration between students, parents, and school staff to create a positive environment by focusing on students’ needs and causes of behavior, not just dispensing consequences for misbehavior.

It should be noted while some student disciplinary actions are subject to the discretion of campus and district administrators, other student disciplinary actions are mandatory, such as mandatory DAEP (District Alternative Education Program) for any offense that is punishable as a felony. Other offenses are subject to mandatory expulsion, such as a student bringing a firearm to school or committing crimes such as aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault.

Truancy enforcement is not discretionary. We are obligated to abide by our state’s compulsory school attendance laws. Our District’s truancy prevention efforts attempt to provide support and accountability for students and their families. Our systems are working. Since the implementation of an automated truancy system in 2007, truancy warning letters and valid truancy complaints dropped by 58 percent between 2008 and 2013.

Our teachers and students must have a safe and secure learning environment, and our students must be in the classroom. We will treat all of our students in a fair and transparent manner and provide them equal access to a great education, but we can’t do it alone. Encouraging student attendance and positive behavior at school includes the active engagement of parents and families, as well as the greater community.

It is important for us to discuss the data regarding the critical issues of student discipline and truancy, but we cannot forget that each data point represents a student with a name and a story. That is why we will be looking to implement restorative discipline and identifying new ways to more effectively engage parents and the FBISD community as we attempt to learn and respond to each story. Details about community meetings to discuss these important topics will be shared soon. Together, we will strive to deliver on our promise to every FBISD student: to inspire and equip them to pursue futures beyond their imagination.

Dr. Charles Dupre
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent of Schools


AccuWeather SkyGuard Warning Service

Fort Bend ISD has selected AccuWeather’s SkyGuard Warning Service to provide greater safety information for FBISD students, staff and facilities. This service provides our own meteorologist and up-to-the-minute warnings when severe weather threatens our district.

SkyGuard Warnings are weather warnings developed by Accuweather’s team of expert meteorologists. They encompass a wide variety of severe weather situations to provide proactive notifications of impending weather threats to each FBISD school. Each campus will receive severe weather threats by an email and text notification system that must be acknowledged to ensure the messages are received by campus administrators. If notifications are not acknowledged, then a follow-up phone call is made to that location.

Our District has 24/7 access to an Accuweather meteorologist to assist with severe weather forecasting. Additionally, the Police, Facilities, Transportation and Community Relations Departments all have access to SkyGuard Online, which quickly shows us exactly what is happening in our area with detailed maps that clearly highlight each school’s location.

SkyGuard Warnings offer several important advantages over warnings available from other governmental and private sources.

Accurate and timely. In one weather emergency after another, AccuWeather has been the first – and often the only – warning of life-threatening severe weather. Accurate, timely warnings are key when minutes count in sheltering our students and staff. For a similar Fortune 100 client, SkyGuard provided, on average, 24.6 minutes of lead time for tornadoes compared to National Weather Service (NWS) warnings which provided, on average, only 12 minutes of lead time. SkyGuard provided double the amount of lead time to prepare.
Site-specific and customized. Unlike the NWS, which issues general public warnings covering large areas, AccuWeather issues alerts only when your specific location is at risk. This allows us to customize warnings for our own requirements. For example, the NWS does not warn for winds of less than 58 mph. We can customize our warnings to 50 mph or whatever criteria are most relevant to FBISD.
Actionable. SkyGuard Warnings are specific to our needs to trigger emergency weather procedures. Each school will receive weather warnings that staff can use to trigger existing emergency preparedness procedures, whether for tornado sheltering, lightning notifications, snow/ice, high winds, or other conditions of concern.
Consistent. Our warnings provide a single statement that can be used throughout the district.
We are excited about the capabilities of this new service as it aids in our efforts to ensure the safety of all FBISD students and staff members.

Chief David Rider and Steve Dancer
Twitter: @FBISDChiefRider


Volunteer Appreciation Day!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



Happy President’s Day

Today is a school holiday.



Happy Valentine’s Day

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Feeder Changes Approved

At the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees meeting, the Board unanimously adopted a District-wide Feeder Pattern and Boundary plan to serve as a guide for current and future growth within Fort Bend ISD, and also approved new attendance zones to align feeder patterns and plan for the opening of the District’s newest elementary schools. Their actions followed months of planning and community engagement, and also mark an unprecedented accomplishment in our District’s history. Never before has FBISD taken such a comprehensive approach to align feeder patterns and balance enrollment District-wide.

Because these decisions will affect so many of you and your students next year, I wanted to take a few minutes to share important implementation information.

Throughout these last few months, I know there have been many questions about the transition process. I understand that as parents, you want to know where your child will attend school next year, and what is being done to support students as they change schools. Many of you attended Community Information Meetings last week to ask these important questions, and now that the Board has taken action, there are more details to share.

The new boundaries approved by the Board of Trustees last night will affect 11 high schools, 13 middle schools, and 15 elementary schools next fall, including the new Elementary School 46. The Board also created boundaries for the opening of Elementary School 47, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

The board approved all boundary changes that were presented to the community during last week’s Community Information meetings, but amended the recommendations that will affect two elementary schools. As a result, the entire Woodstream neighborhood in First Colony will now attend Colony Meadows Elementary School and Fort Settlement Middle School.

The new and updated attendance boundaries will be posted on the District’s “Planning for the Future” webpage very soon. In addition, please read the following implementation information carefully.

Elementary Schools
• Students currently enrolled in kindergarten through fourth-grade will attend their new zoned schools in the 2015-2016 school year.
• Incoming fifth-graders will have the option of staying at their current campus next year, but transportation will not be provided. This option is only available at campuses that are not projected to have capacity exceeding 120 percent.
Middle Schools
• Students currently enrolled in fifth-grade, sixth-grade, or seventh-grade will attend their new zoned schools in the 2015-2016 school year.
• Incoming eighth-graders will have the option of staying at their current middle schools next year, but transportation will not be provided.
High Schools
• Students currently enrolled in ninth-grade, tenth-grade, and eleventh-grade will remain at their current campus and be eligible for transportation until their graduation.
• Students entering ninth-grade and who have older siblings currently attending their zoned high schools can choose to attend the same campus as their sibling, but transportation will only be provided through their older sibling’s graduation. This provision does not apply if the older sibling is attending his or her current campus through an intra-district transfer, inter-district transfer, or as a participant in an academy program.
• Students currently attending a middle school or high school campus through an approved intra-district transfer will remain at their current campus until completion of the highest grade offered at that campus.
• Any student affected by an attendance zone boundary change may apply for an intra-district transfer in accordance with District Policy and applicable administrative transfer procedures.
The feeder pattern and boundary changes approved by the Board of Trustees considered only live-in enrollment and enrollment projections, exclusive of academy programs.
As a result of projected high school enrollment, the District decided to relocate two academy programs, the Global Studies Academy, currently at Clements High School, and the International Business and Marketing Academy, currently at Bush High School. These academies will both move to Travis High School, where there will be sufficient space to house the programs. Incoming ninth-graders who are selected to participate in these academy programs will begin their studies at Travis High School, while students currently enrolled in these programs will complete their studies at their current campuses. All other academy programs will remain at their current campuses.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that the entire District leadership team is committed to serving all of our students, regardless of where they may live, or what schools they may attend. An implementation team, made up of District-level and campus-level staff, has been established to ensure that we are meeting the needs of every student. This team has the knowledge, expertise, and experience necessary to accomplish this important task.

Thank you, once again, for actively participating in this process over the last 18 months. I realize this has been an emotional journey for many of you, who took the time to advocate for your students. We appreciate that you joined us and made your voices heard. As a District, we are now better prepared for the future – and to continue to our mission of inspiring and equipping all of our students to pursue futures beyond their imagination.

Charles Dupre



Emergency Preparedness Begins at Home

This important message is being sent to you on behalf of FBISD Chief of Police David Rider.

January represents a new beginning. Fresh starts, resolutions, and cooler weather all seem to consume us this time of year. So I thought it might be a good time to refresh our thoughts around a basic safety mindset to set the tone for the rest of the 2015 school year.

I am the den leader of my son’s Cub Scouts group, and our meeting this month focused on being prepared for emergencies. We talked about what to do in several situations, including house fires, car accidents, boating accidents and even falling through ice. The book we referenced during our discussion actually tells the scouts to carry spare change so they can make a phone call at a pay phone.

As funny as that sounds, there is a message there, and our students need to hear it and understand it from an early age. At school, we conduct fire drills every month and other drills each semester. We create memory markers so students will know what to do in case of an emergency at school. However, very few families have a plan in place at home.

I would encourage each family to create a simple plan for different types of emergencies in the home. If the family has to evacuate the house, where will everyone meet? When is it appropriate to call 9-1-1? What should younger students do if a stranger approaches while the kids are playing outside? Take the time to teach them a simple plan – and practice it.

For older students, more age-appropriate responses to emergencies can be implemented, but they still need to be practiced. Teach them to be aware of their surroundings whether at home or at the mall. What are the expectations for contacting an adult if they are away from home, and how would they do that?

Discussing and practicing these plans will give our students confidence when faced with an emergency. It will also help them as they transition out of the house and begin their journey through life as an adult. In short, they will be prepared.



Martin Luther King Day

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Cold Weather Update from FBISD

This important message is being sent to you on behalf of FBISD Chief of Police David Rider.

As we welcome students back from the holiday break, we would like to take a moment and let you know about the District’s efforts to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment during this week’s forecasted freeze.  

The National Weather Service is predicting below freezing temperatures for the greater Houston area in the overnight hours of Wednesday leading into Thursday. No precipitation is expected, so we plan to continue operating with normal schedules. Student safety is the District’s top priority. While we can’t change the temperatures, we can work to make sure students are warm and out of harm’s way.

Please understand that weather forecasts are subject to change, and the District is constantly communicating with emergency management officials and the National Weather Service to determine if further actions are necessary. The District’s website will be updated daily this week, and any emergency school closures will be communicated with parents and the community through the District’s email and phone notification system, School Messenger, as well as through local media channels. Those who miss media announcements can call the District’s Severe Weather Hotline at (281) 634-INFO (4636).

FBISD Athletics adheres to the District’s Cold Weather Policy when considering whether sports activities and practices should be cancelled or postponed. This policy is available to view on the District’s website here.

Protocols are also in place to make sure facilities staff, transportation workers, and emergency responders are all aware of potential weather issues and ready to act if needed.

Please make sure your students are dressed appropriately during these cold conditions. Thank you for your ongoing support as the District works to ensure all students reach their full potential. 

David Rider