October 18, 2017 by HCDE-Texas
Elected officials and education leaders broke ground Tuesday on Harris County’s first public recovery high school, designed to help students who have completed a rehabilitation program remain sober while continuing their education.
“Fortis is a very important Latin term for strength and courage and determination,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, whose district includes the Fortis Academy site, previously HCDE’s Highpoint North campus. “You have certainly answered the question of ‘What is right?’ This is the right thing to do.”
More than 10,000 drug- and alcohol-related offenses occurred in Harris County’s 25 school districts during the past five years. Research also shows the risk of relapse is higher when students must return to their pretreatment schools. For many adolescents, their prior high school represents the environment of previous use and contact with using friends.
“We really need to get down to the root of the problem and help these children fight their addictions,” said HCDE Superintendent James Colbert. “We’re going to assist kids with sobriety to make them whole again while they continue to achieve their academic goals.”
Tuesday’s event was attended by state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, a representative from Commissioner Jack Cagle’s office, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson, Houston ISD trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones, and leaders from Houston’s recovery community. Several educators from area school districts including Huffman, Goose Creek and Galena Park also attended.
Harris County Department of Education Board President Louis Evans said the event was historic not just for HCDE, but for Texas’ largest county.
“We are here to mark the beginning of an exciting renovation that will culminate with the opening of Harris County’s first public recovery high school: Fortis Academy,” Evans said. “Thanks to superintendent James Colbert; our therapeutic partner, Turning Point; and the support of superintendents and recovery advocates across the county, we are poised to make history.”
Fortis Academy, located at 11902 Spears Road in the Greenspoint area, will open in the spring with an initial cohort of 30 students. The school’s principal, Anthony Moten, said the therapeutic component is critical in helping students maintain the sobriety they have achieved in counseling programs prior to enrolling in Fortis.
“My connection to this mission is personal. I’ve seen, up close and personal, the harm and the impact that drugs and alcohol have on families and adolescents,” said Dr. Moten, whose father owned a nightclub. “I’m committed and prayerful that Fortis Academy will be a life-saving and life-sustaining refuge for the adolescents of Harris County.”
For more information about Fortis Academy recovery high school, go to www.hcde-texas.org/recoveryschool.
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 $.005195. 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.