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Posts published in “News Index – North Forest News”

Early registration kickoff fair at HCC North Forest Campus

Houston Community College’s new North Forest Campus.

HOUSTON (November 8, 2018) – With rapid changes in technology, the economy and career opportunities, having advanced education and training is critical. The HCC North Forest Campus has expanded to provide more classes and training opportunities for the community to reach their educational goals. For those who may need guidance in getting started in school or simply what to know what career options are available, the HCC Northeast Forest Campus is hosting an “Early Registration Kickoff Fair” from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 29. The newly expanded campus is located at 6010 E. Little York Road, Houston, Texas 77016.

Representatives will be available to provide information regarding training programs, academic courses, Seniors 55 yrs.+ tuition discount program, certifications and student support services. There will be drawings for prizes and light refreshments will be served.

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Brutal robberies continue at North Forest’s Commons of Grace apartments

Only weeks after a series of robberies and threats to elderly residents occured at the Commons of Grace apartments on Tidwell Road, Houston Police and Channel 2 News have reported another brutal attack and robbery of a resident.

This follows promises by management of increased surveillance and more security guards for the complex, as well as changes in locks and gates.

In the most recent incident of crime, it is alleged that four men accosted an elderly man, Percy Gipson, as he returned from work at 3:30 am on Friday July 27. He was allegedly attacked with a hammer in the hallway of his apartment building, beaten and robbed of his wallet, keys and a gun.

According to his grandson, Damil Gipson, visiting his grandfather at Memorial Hermann Hospital emergency room, Gipson suffered a fractured skull and was bleeding from the brain.

Regional property manager for NPR, the manager of the apartment complex, Maritza Miranda told Channel 2 that they are Òbeefing up the patrolÓ and working with authorities to stop the crimes. She said they have surveillance video that may show the perpetrators of the attack, and this has been given to the police.

Northeast YMCA is a community asset

By Christine Nguyen

It’s a building that’s almost impossible to find, nestled literally on the offshoot of a long and winding road, but somehow the Northeast Family YMCA has become an indispensable part of the North Forest community.

“The YMCA plays a big role [in these people’s lives],” day camp director Jared Hale said. “We cater to the children, but we have senior citizens who love the program. We have teens that love the program. We have people who are involved in the program and don’t even know… Whether they know it or not, they’re contributing to the YMCA and we’re contributing back to the community.

Walk into the Northeast Family YMCA on any given day and you’re likely to find community members of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Currently, the Northeast Y has 330 memberships, which means that an average number of 1,000 or more individuals pass through the building each month.

Community Executive Director Demetta Landry says the Y prides itself on being a place easily accessible to anyone.

“There are kids here whose parents came to this Y when they were growing up.” Landry said. “We’re here to take care of their kids just like we took care of them. They trust us. And with the seniors, they know they can come here, get some good exercise … and do stuff, instead of just staying at home.”

The Northeast Y offers a variety of programs and classes, ranging from swim lessons and sports for the youth to aerobics and line dancing for adults. The building itself houses a number of facilities including an outdoor pool, a multi-purpose gym, two fitness centers and a playroom.

During the summer, the Y offers a day camp for young teens and kids as young as 3 years old, which Landry says is immensely helpful for parents who may have to work during the daytime and need a “safe place” for their kids.

The Northeast Y isn’t only focused on accessibility in terms of age either. Although the Y relies heavily on membership and class fees, Landry says it is constantly seeking out new sources of funding to be able to provide financial assistance to those in need, whether it’s through United Way dollars or the Y Partners Campaign.

The Partners Campaign works to raise money from board members, benefactors, Y members and staff to allow everyone to participate in the Y, even those who can’t afford the membership.

“It’s all money that we pretty much raise ourselves to keep us going,” Landry said. “Our rates are based on what our community can afford, so we work really hard to try to raise as much as we can because there’s a great need in our community.”

Currently, through the Partners Campaign, the Northeast Y does apartment outreach at Haverstock Hills Apartments, which was once considered the most dangerous complex in the Houston area. Through the program, the Y provides a variety of sports and enrichment activities to more than 700 youth who live in the complex.

But for Landry, who has worked at the Northeast Family YMCA for almost 28 years, this relationship isn’t a one-way street. She says the community has changed her life just as much as the Y has changed theirs.

“I’ve never really wanted to work anywhere else,” Landry said. “I believe in the mission, and I love this community. It’s my family.”

North Forest HS shooting incident mars attempts at district progress

NORTH FOREST– Police responded last Tuesday to a shooting inside North Forest High School. Incidents continue to happen at North Forest High School, possibly affecting the District’s appeal of closing the district. This time a student was shot by another student, who had a gun apparently to protect himself from others who were “bullying” him.

An 18-year-old, Warren Lewis, shot a16-year-old freshman in the leg in the middle of a second floor hallway around 12:30 p.m. The incident “was apparently the result of a dispute between a group of students that started off-campus and continued onto the campus,” said Sue Davis, spokeswoman for North Forest ISD. “The 16-year-old was not part of the dispute, so he was not the intended target of the alleged shooter.”

A nearby teacher, in a government class, who happened to also be a deputy constable, apprehended the shooter. Lewis has been charged with aggravated assault while the 16-year-old boy is in stable condition at a local hospital. In court Wednesday, prosecutors said that he actually fired the gun 5 times, and filed additional charges of carrying a gun on campuse.

This is the second incident within three months at North Forest High, back in October, two students were expelled after they attempted to hide a gun that one of them had brought to class.

North Forest ISD recently received final orders from the state Education Commissioner to close down and merge with Houston ISD by July, which they are appealing.

Statement from Edna Forté, Superintendent, North Forest Independent School District:

January 10, 2012

At approximately 12:30 p.m. today, an 18-year-old 12th grade student allegedly shot a 16-year-old 9th grader at North Forest High School. The 9th grader was shot in the leg and taken to hospital in stable condition. The alleged shooter was apprehended at the school and turned over to the Houston Police Department. The school was put on lockdown until it was determined the situation was over and then students were allowed to return to class after about 30 minutes. The parents of both students have been notified.

The ensuing investigation by school officials has determined the incident was apparently the result of a dispute among students that started off-campus. The student who was shot was apparently not the target of the alleged shooter.

While the high school has metal detectors, it is still under investigation as to how the alleged shooter got the gun into the school. As a result of this incident, the school district has determined to keep the metal detectors in operation longer each day.

The district has also decided to ban backpacks that are not transparent at the high school. The district will purchase clear backpacks for all the students and hopes to have them available by next Tuesday.

North Forest High School preparing students for top college admissions programs

According to North Forest High School principal James Troutman, this year’s graduating class of 239 Seniors has a number of outstanding students, that are well prepared to continue their education at top tier colleges throughout the state and nation.

Students at North Forest High School are beginning to receive acceptances from colleges they have applied to this year. In a recent series of interviews, the Northeast News learned about some of the top students in the graduating class, and what their achievements and goals are for the future.

Sarah Taylor is interested in film, and plans to continue her education at either NYU in New York, or UT Austin in their Communications program. Her interest in file and theater is life long, and she looks forward to learning more and a career in this field.

Last summer she was able to further her interests by participating in a 5 week summer course in film at the University of Houston. She learned to do editing, camera work, directing, and scouting locations.

At North Forest, she is president of the theater group and a technical director, but admits she doesn’t like acting as much as the technical aspects.

She has recently directed a one act play, “Charity Case” for the UIL competition. Sara is also making a one act movie, 7 to 10 minutes long, of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, albeit a modern adaptation.

Sara is graduating number 5 in her class of 239, and her philosophy is to make the best of what you opportunities have given you. She is also vice president of the student government association.

Claiborne Jones is an athlete as well as a scholar, and interested in chemical engineering for his future. He has been accepted at UT Austin, and exhibits an extremely positive attitude. He is already a longhorn fan, and plays NF football as a wide receiver, and is captain of the baseball team.

His engineering interests stem from his involvement in the NSBE, or National Society of Black Engineers. He recently returned from a conference of this group of students, and served as board member. This group is very active at North Forest, thanks to the teacher, Ms. Valencia Dutton, and the support of Shell Oil Company.

Claiborne is also interested in music, and plays the violin and viola. His philolophy is summed up as “I like to exceed expectations.”

His advice to other students is to stay in school, and get involved in your community.

Rayshanda Massey is also interested in engineering, and has been accepted at Texas A & M. She will major in either industrial engineering, or Early Childhood Education.

Rayshanda is another member of the NSBE, and went to the St. Louis conference, where she was elected a vice president.

She indicated that North Forest High School has an Engineering Design Presentation class that has been influential in developing her interest in engineering, with computer work and AutoCad experience.

She also participates in the Dual Credit program offered by HCC-NE at North Forest, gaining college credit in English.

Rayshanda’s interests include ROTC, captain of the majorettes, and a program at TSU of the national Upward Bound experience. She has participated in this for 3 years, taking pre-calculus and visiting other colleges as part of the program. She said there are 5 students from North Forest currently in the Upward Bound program.

Rayshanda wears a TAMU sweat shirt, as she smiles and says she is definitely as Aggie. But she adds, that she sees herself as “born to be a leader.”

It would seem that this comment could well apply to all three of the outstanding students presenting themselves from North Forest High Schoool.

TEA issues Final Closing Order to NF

By GILBERT HOFFMAN, Northeast News

NORTH FOREST– The public and the District held a celebration party Thursday night, heaping praise and accolades on the newly appointed permanent Superintendent, Ms. Edna Forté. Several board members, past and present, and the HCC-NE President, Margaret Ford Fisher, wished Forté well in her position.

Unfortunately, by the next day, Friday, the happy thoughts had turned sour, when the District received a letter from Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, informing them that a Final Decision had been made, and they would be dissolved as of July 1, 2012. At that time, the Houston ISD is ordered to absorb the North Forest district and its 7500 students, according to the letter. Scott’s letter was not entirely unanticipated, but the District has maintained all year that they would be able to correct the long-standing academic and financial problems, and get TEA approval.

Public statements rebutting the closure notice were immediately issued by Superintendent Forté and Congresswoman Jackson-Lee.

The community, with the strong support of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, has waged a campaign to save the district from closing. In fact, an “Education Town Hall” was held after the NFISD fete Thursday evening, as Lee returned from a meeting in Austin with TEA. Another meeting Sunday afternoon, at 3 pm in the Shadydale Elementary school, continued organizing the community support against the TEA decision.

In his 8 page letter to the District, Scott cited the district and the high school for a 2011 rating of Academically Unacceptable (AU), and further noted that this was the third consecutive year for the district, and the sixth consecutive year for the high school. He continued that the district earned a substantial financial accountability rating for the fourth consecutive year.

Therefore, he stated that these findings “require me to assign the North Forest ISD a 2011-2012 accreditation status of Not Accredited-Revoked and to close the district effective July 1, 2012.”

The letter contains a long and detailed list of deficiencies that the TEA Conservator assigned to the district has identified. Scott indicates that most of these have not been solved satisfactorily.

In regard to previous academic accountability ratings, Scott notes that on Nov. 2nd that appeal was denied.

Scott states that “This order will annex the North Forest ISD to the Houston ISD effective July 1, 2012.

Although a “Final” decision, he notes “The procedures available to the district to request a review of the accreditation status assignment and order of annexation are discussed below.”

Scott also notes that the annexation must be precleared by the US Department of Justice, under the National Voting Rights Act of 1965.

District Statement

In a statement issued by North Forest’s Forté, she said that “the North Forest ISD has retained legal counsel and will continue to fight the closure of the district.”

And in a slap at the TEA, she continues “The Texas Education Agency is seeking to close the district for issues that occurred while under partial or complete conservatorship.”

Jackson-Lee Statement

Based on a meeting that she and NAACP officials had with TEA Commissioner Scott on Thursday, she stated in a press release Friday that “It is not accurate to assume North Forest ISD is going to close especially if they were to receive a fair and unbiased review by the TEA.”

Jackson-Lee said that the TEA Commissioner based his assessment largely on the two years when NFISD was under the control of TEA and their conservator.

“The NFISD now is moving towards the improvements that the TEA failed to accomplish. She concluded “Stop condemning… and give them a chance!!”

Houston North Forest Chamber of Commerce hosts a “ Visions Gala Day”

By Julieta Paita

Members, sponsors and supporters of the Houston North Forest Chamber of Commerce gathered at Eden Event Center,7450 North Wayside, on Nov. 8 for a “Visions Gala Day”.

Vision for North Forest Chamber of Commerce is about “growing and growing with small business like Union Pacific,”said James Leonard, Chamber president. “We are investors in trying making our community to grow and grow.”

Judge Zinetta Birney, guest speaker, said education in North Forest is a priority.

“North Forest is one of our largestschool districts in the city of Texas, education in my opinion is a subject that must happen and distribute the top issue on my list of issues,” said Birney. “North Forest must find a way of providing service to this community, closure or merging to HISD is not the answer.”

North Forest Superintendent, EdnaForté, as well as some elected officials and Houston Community College-North Forest were among the list of recognized guests.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee reviewed some of the President’s Obama plans; the American Jobs Act and tax cuts to help American’s small business hire and grow. To know more about this act, you can go to www.whitehouse.gov/jobsact#overview.

Houston North Forest Chamber of Commerce has its monthly meeting every 2nd Tuesday of each month. 713-670-7500. More pictures on page 8.

Edna Forté named Superintendent at North Forest ISD

NORTH FOREST, October 18, 2011–The Board of Trustees of the North Forest Independent School District Monday named Edna Forté as Superintendent of Schools.

The Board’s vote was unanimous. Forté has been Acting Superintendent since March 2011.

“The Board of Trustees has absolute trust that Ms. Forté will keep our school district moving forward this year and beyond,” said Chair Albert Coleman. “She has the skills and judgment to have a big impact on our district and its students, community, staff and Board.”

A visionary and progressive leader, Edna Forté has worked aggressively to implement academic reforms that increase student achievement in urban public schools. Her leadership philosophy recognizes the need to establish meaningful relationships, maintain open collaborative lines of communication, and focus the collective efforts of the entire organization on outcomes that serve the best interest of all children.

“This year, there are three critical priorities the North Forest Independent School District will address,” said Forté. “First, improve achievement; second, systemize financial policy; and third, gain the public’s trust.”

During her tenure in the North Forest Independent School District, Forté has facilitated a number of innovative initiatives aimed largely at advancing pathways to graduation. Specifically, she worked to obtain a multi-million dollar transformation grant intended to unite high school stakeholders around a common vision and common goals. In addition, she collaborated with external partners to acquire a grant to assist the district in lifting the YES Prep North Forest Charter School purposed to create innovative new secondary school choices within the district.

Forté possesses over 20 years of experience and has an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and expertise. Her educational career began in the Alief Independent School District. She later transitioned to the Houston Independent School District where she held several impactful positions including Literacy Specialist, Principal, and Regional External Funding Supervisor. In 2006, she joined the North Forest Independent School District as the Director of Federal Programs. She was subsequently promoted to Executive Director of Federal & State Programs in 2008 and became Acting Superintendent in March.

Edna Forté is affiliated with several professional organizations including the Texas Association of School Business Administrators, The American Leadership Forum, Houston A+ Challenge Executive Leadership Council, and The National Leadership Institute. In 2011, she was recognized by the Texas Black Caucus as an Outstanding Community Leader Honoree in recognition of her contributions to building equitable and diverse communities.

North Forest sets turnaround plans

Project Transformation” includes New Principal at HS, Auditors, Education consultants, Publication

NORTH FOREST– This beleagured school district continues with a multiple faceted plan to turn around academic and financial standings with the state, and through appeals gain status to forego a closure order from the Texas Education Agency. At last Monday’s board meeting, acting Superintendent Edna Forté presented details of this plan, called “Project Transformation.” Helping with the presentation was North Forest High School’s new principal, James Troutman.

Forté emphasized changes and improvements at the High School, where the TEA accountability rating has been Unacceptable and helped pull the District into the same rating.

To help with the transformation, the board approved contracts with two educational consultants, approved a modest tax increase, and hired an additional associate principal for the high school.

They also approved a new Employee Handbook, and confirmed the hiring of a new Athletic Director and Football Coach. The new AD is Darrell Hawkins, the new football coach is Plez Atkins.

Project Transformation, as explained by Forté, consists of three components: Academic achievement, sound Financial Policy, and reestablishing Public Trust.

This is accomplished in eight steps, she said.

First, establish a competent Transformation team, and designate the principal as the internal lead facilitator for the high school;

Second, move toward school autonomy, allowing the high school to make more decisions and be responsible and accountable;

Third, work with stakeholders to build support for the Transformation strategy;

Fourth, contract with external professionals to provide guidance and review and evaluate academic progress;

Fifth, provide rigorous staff development, including training, continual monitoring and evaluation and modification as required;

Sixth, increase learning time with additional funding and partnerships as necessary;

Seventh, reform instruction through a variety of means, including leadership, alignment of instruction with standards and benchmarks, curriculum adjustments as required after monitoring and assessment, provide different teaching modes, emphasize homework and parent involvement, and finally employ effective classroom management;

Eighth, lead change with communication, acting on collected data, optimizing educational conditions, and be willing to discontinue failing strategies.

The board adopted a new tax rate for the 2011-12 school year, of $1.469292 total, compared with $1.37 last year. This amount reflects a 9 cent increase in the I & S Fund tax, which does not require voter approval, only board action. This was recommended by the external auditor, Mr. Karr, and was less than originally proposed in the public notice. The auditor emphasized that due to an increase in the overall appraised property in the District of about $76 million, the District will receive about $1,300,000 additional funds in their budget. The increase in the tax rate will mean only about a $10 increase in the average home in the district. The District has reduced its overall budget this year, from $51.3 million last year to about $47.6 million this year, with a small surplus of $500,000 projected to build up the reserve fund as required.

The board voted to hire an education consultant familiar with this type of demographic, Dr. Pedro Noguera of NYU School for Urban Education, and a firm LEAD4Ward, to aid in implementing and assessing the new Texas STAAR tests. Dr. Noguera is co-author of a book, “Unfinished Business” about education in an urban minority district in New Jersey, and the ability to reform it.

Supporters organize to save North Forest from closure

By GILBERT HOFFMAN
Northeast News
The North Forest community continues to respond to last week’s surprise announcement from the Texas Education Agency, ordering the closing of the district after the 2011-2012 school year.
Several meetings have been held to organize a petition drive, and a letter to Governor Perry seeking a reversal of the ruling from TEA Commissioner Robert Scott. Meetings on the subject include the Public Community Meeting on Saturday, July 16th called by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; the NF ISD Board Meeting the following Monday night, July 18th; and a NEEF meeting on Thursday night, July 21st. Other meetings are scheduled for July 25 at the Community Center, and Aug. 4th for the next NEEF meeting at Shadydale.
In a well attended meeting last Saturday, July 16th, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that the district and its majority African-Americans were being treated with discrimination, not like white majority districts with similar problems. She urged the public to decide whether they wanted to save the district and the community’s separate identity, and suggested they conside filing a civil rights lawsuit with the federal authorities if necessary. She also promised to help with federal agencies that may have jurisdiction, such as the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the U.S. Department of Education. Other state legislators and local officials spoke in support of the district.

In a meeting held last Thursday night, the superneighborhoods that are involved with NEEF- Northeast Education First, held a rally and organizational meeting at Shadydale Elementary School, where about 100 persons from the community attended. They listened to a presentation by Edna Forté, acting superintendent of the district, and statements of support from some NFISD Trustees.
Forté made a strong presentation, reviewing improvements in the management and educational achievements of the district. Forté said that the district was now solvent, with budget cuts of $4.6 million in the teaching staff, another $700,000 in additional staff cuts, that would result in a fund balance in 2012-2013 of $2.7 million.
She reminded the group that the high school was the recipient of a $5 million federal grant to make changes and improvements, which are underway. Also, with the YES Charter school existing as part of the District, the results can be used to average an improved accountability rating in the future.
She also revealed that several nationally renowned educators, specialists in reforming problem school districts, had agreed to come to North Forest in the next school year to help. These included Pedro Noguera and Ervin Knezek, and perhaps several others.
She introduced the new interim principal for North Forest High School, James Troutman. He spoke briefly, describing how he is already holding teacher training every week, improving the physical condition of the school, including cleaning, and conducting a search for new highly qualified teachers fully certified in science and math.
Forté said that she has contacted TEA asking for a meeting to discuss the letter and her plans for improvements. She said that to date, she has received NO response. However, on August 1 school ratings become official, and she thinks she will get a response after that date.
Board member Lois Edwards and Thadeus Seals also addressed the audience, with specific criticisms of the TEA and their board of managers and their superintendent. She said that in the two plus years that they controlled the district, the high school had no improvements and no new programs. Seals spoke about the history of students that had attended school at North Forest over the years, and the success that many of them have had in their careers and lives, due to their education at North Forest. His message was that there was no reason why the District could not continue to educate the children in a satisfactory way.
Edwards also said that spending by the superintendent and the managers during their two year tenure was excessive, and the budget was not brought under control until Forté was appointed.
The NEEF group took a vote to see if the audience wanted to support efforts to keep the district open, and the vote was 48 in favor, and 0 against.
The group is organizing a petition drive, to get 7500 to 15,000 signatures to send along with a letter to Governor Perry, requesting a reversal of TEA’s closure decision, and allowing the District to remain open.
Robin German Curtis, chair of NEEF, spoke about the urgency of acting to save the district. She pointed out that school will start on August 22, and that parents must soon make the decision where to send their children this year. Ivory Mayhorn said “WE are North Forest. It is up to us to voice a new attitude.”