HCDE board names first public recovery high school in county ‘Fortis Academy’

The name of the first public recovery high school in Harris County is officially “Fortis Academy” as the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees voted 5 to 1 in favor of the school’s naming at its Aug. 16 meeting.

A 20,000-square-foot facility already owned by HCDE and located at 11902 Spears Road in the Greenspoint area in north Houston is currently being renovated and is anticipated to open during the 2017-2018 school year. The mission of the school is to make a difference in the lives of high school students who need support and assistance after successful completion of a substance abuse or dependency rehabilitation program.

Fortis Academy will serve eligible students referred and contracted by their Harris County school districts. Initially the school will accommodate 30 students and then grow to 60 and 90 seats in subsequent years.

“Fortis in Latin means strong, steadfast and courageous so we think this name is a good fit,” said HCDE Board of Trustee Vice President Eric Dick. “Statistically, we know these students face difficult challenges, and I can attest from my own personal experience. We know how badly this school is needed in our Houston community.”

To enroll in Fortis Academy, students must have completed a substance abuse or dependency rehabilitation program. They may attend the recovery school for the remainder of their high school years to obtain a high-quality education in a sober environment.

“Fortis Academy will combine three components: coaching, counseling and academics,” said Harris County School Superintendent James Colbert Jr. “We acknowledge that relapse is higher when students return to their pretreatment high schools. Peer pressure is a powerful force, so we combine counseling and coaching centers into the traditional school day to promote continued sobriety.”

Frequently asked questions are answered about the new recovery high school called Fortis Academy on the HCDE website at http://www.hcde-texas.org/recoveryschool.

Other action items brought before the board:

• Acceptance of $2.2 million in federal afterschool funds via 21st Century Learning Centers and Texas Afterschool Centers for Education to serve 1,290 students in 2017-18 through the Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids.

• Approval of $2 million in School-Based Therapy Services contracts to serve 2,000-plus students with disabilities in Katy, Hempstead, Dayton and Pasadena ISDs in fiscal year 2018.

• Approval of a contract between Fort Bend Independent School District and the HCDE Teaching and Learning Center to provide an Equity and Culture Assessment.

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides special education, therapy services, early education, adult education and after-school programming. Services are funded by government grants, fees and a local property tax rate of $.0052. For every dollar in local property tax collected, HCDE provides $4.40 in services to the 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE also operates four campuses for students with profound special education needs and adjudicated youth who require a low student-teacher ratio and highly structured environment. One-hundred percent of students served on HCDE campuses are at-risk. The organization is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and has 1,060 employees and 33 facilities, including 15 Head Start centers. More info at www.hcde-texas.org .

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