Grimes-closeup-charter-banner

Paula Harris talked about protecting her schools and community but she was the first to push for District IV school closings. If a friend of hers then had the chance to establish a charter on former HISD campuses, for Paula, it was just part of the plan.

Hot comment The Sale of District 4 - The real cost of Boris' flood insurance Quote · Apr 28 2016 10:39 PM I welcome the Drew - Mellon expose regarding the shady business dealings between State Rep Boris Miles and Paula Harris' family members. Today's Chronicle story comes long after the fact. Boris blew the whistle on himself in 2014 in his lawsuit. Arrogant fool. We are just reading about it now. But this revelation is tied to a deeper quid pro quo story - the rise of the specialty schools and the demise of the schools in Paula's district 4 . The purge of older African American teachers. Jones High School Closing schools. Why didn't Paula represent her District 4 constituency but instead was a reliable trustee vote for Dr. Grier's big corporate reform agenda including Apollo, TADS, EVAAS, Leverage Leadership, PowerUp, excessive benchmark testing, and backpack campus financing. She was quiet on the scandalous turn over in the Grier Administration. She voted to have HISD pay $1 million for Larry' Marshall's defense. She deserted HOPE Academy, Why was Paula Harris a Grier faithful? Simply put, Dr. Grier was aware of her small time shenanigans with Boris and her husband and held it over her head to get her vote for his bigger wheeling and dealings. And what was Paula's last board vote? Dr. Grier's $75,000 bonus in January. That is the real story behind Drew - Mellon story. Paula sold out her little people to curry favor with Dr. Grier in order to watched out for her home boys like Boris, the insiders who work the black community for profit, The next big human story will center on trustee Jolanda Jones. Will she call out corruption in her district?


TEA: Yes, there were problems, but you can trust STAAR results...
For the central office educrats it's always time for self-promotion
Lance Menster getting a promotion? In HISD it makes sense
The snapshot tests continue to be invasive, inaccurate, and pretty much useless.  They emerged from former HISD's Superintendent Terry Grier's relationship with Roland Fryer and the Harvard Ed. Labs, renamed Leverage Leadership for a quicker sell to the masses.

The acting superintendent has no education experience. Educrats at the central office are scurrying about, vying to keep their jobs and, if they play their cards right, get a promotion.

Count Lance Menster in.  He began the year in the elementary curriculum department pulling in a $138,000 annual salary.

*Hot comment*

HMW Insider

Word on the street is that the upwardly mobile Lance Menster is finagling behind the scenes with 2 adoring board members to worm his way into a cabinet position. Source: talkative friends of these board members. They're convinced he's right for the highest level of district leadership. Stay tuned. Let's see if the board admirers can push Menster into a top spot once the new superintendent is hired. Btw, he has their private cell numbers.
 


Staar-2

Preliminary STAAR Scores Horrible! Quote · May 1 2016 11:18 AM

Apparently Arrogant Erika at the Houston Comical doesn't have what it takes to track down the preliminary STAAR scores for grades 5 and 8 or she has been told not to publish her information. Leave it to the Houston Press to give us the information. Students in grades 5 and 8 who failed will be given two more opportunities to pass the tests with the second opportunity at the end of summer school. According the the Houston Press these scores are lower than last year. Here are the passing rates for the April 2016 administration for Houston ISD. They ARE pitiful!

Grade 5 Reading 64% passed Grade 5 Math 72% passed Grade 8 Reading 73% passed Grade 8 Math 64% passed

The Texas Education Agency is scheduled to release full district reports on May 5th. Perhaps Arrogant Erika should begin tracking down that information now.

Click image for Houston Press report.


Sidney Lanier not a Confederate? So says school name change opposition
Nearly 200 schools named for Confederate heroes 
At majority minority schools, Confederate names remain
Should Houston's Lanier Middle School lose its Confederate name?

PAULA HARRIS' QUID PRO QUO WITH BORIS MILES FINALLY GETS ATTENTION
In Texas unethical, even illegal behavior usually gets a pass

From the Houston Chronicle report:
"...Miles unwittingly revealed the omission of Attentive Hospice on his ethics forms when he filed suit in 2014 against his business partners, Dwayne Harris, husband of then­Houston school board member Paula Harris, and Paul McCann Sr., Paula Harris' father.

"...Miles helped run the hospice­care venture with Dwayne Harris and McCann at the same time that Miles' insurance agency was handling flood insurance for the Houston Independent School District. In February 2012, a month after Miles signed the contract with Harris' husband related to Attentive Hospice, she voted to renew Miles Insurance Agency as HISD's broker for flood insurance, meeting minutes show.
 
Paula Harris, who left the school board at the end of 2015, did not mention Miles on the district's disclosure forms that covered 2014, 2013 or part of 2012.
 
The disclosure rules for school trustees are different than for legislators. The Houston board's policy says trustees should avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, but they have to report ties to vendors only in certain cases. Trustees do not have to file personal financial statements with the state.
 
Paula Harris did not return messages seeking comment. Dwayne Harris and McCann's attorney declined comment on pending litigation..."
Read complete report.
 
*Hot comments*
  • Morning Laugh

    Ha just looked at the summer PD...How to control your class! Here's a thought..Maybe if you hadn't run off all the seasoned teachers and replaced them with TFA you wouldn't be having this issue!

  • Pondering Politics between Harris and Miles

    News about State rep Miles and the Harris family is one of the lowest points of politics. Is that why Paula did not run for re-election? Doesn't someone needs to dig into Paula and her best friend at Westco? How does Westco become the winning vendor for tuitoring, painting, plumbing, etc. etc. you name it? They must be experts at everything. How much money has HISD paid Westco? Didn't Paula agree to provide the receipts to prove that she paid her own expenses for her trip with Westco overseas? Lets see them. Did she even disclose her relationship with Westco over the years?


HISD is advertising for 441 teachers
Has Susan Monaghan brought some stability to Westbury? Only five teacher vacancies advertised
Yates High School: one vacancy

Madison High School: one vacancy
Lamar High School: 11 vacancies
Bellaire High School: seven vacancies
Westside High School: 14 vacancies

Sitting out standardized testing
Kate Taylor reports

"WHEN the parents of more than 200,000 pupils in the third through eighth grades in New York chose to have their children sit out standardized state tests last spring, major civil rights organizations were quick to condemn their decision, along with similar movements in Colorado, Washington and New Jersey.

Reliable testing results, they argued, broken down by race, income and disability status, were critical in holding schools accountable for providing equal education for all. By refusing to have their children participate, the parents were “inadvertently making a choice to undermine efforts to improve schools for every child,” according to a statement by the groups.

Because the families opting out were disproportionately white and middle class, testing proponents dismissed them as coddled suburbanites, while insisting that urban parents, who had graver concerns about the quality of their children’s schools, were supportive of the tests. Earlier this year, proponents of testing began using the hashtag #OptOutSoWhite — a spin on the #OscarsSoWhite social-media campaign — to suggest that testing opposition was a form of white privilege..."

Continue reading Ms. Taylor's report at NYTimes.com...


No STAAR reports published in local media
The Dallas Morning News usually beats the Houston Chronicle in publishing state score profiles.  Last year, HISD did not release score reports to the public until June.  Anticipation to see how well HISD's students performed is especially high this year. Many of the same strategies - strategies which resulted in decreases in student achievement in many areas - were continued.

Interim Superintendent Ken Huewitt, referred to as "Chief" in the Houston Chronicle's April 22, 2016 report, is not an educator. He is not certified as a teacher, principal, or superintendent.

STAAR scores are a "complete mess state-wide"
 *Hot comment*

Nostradamus

This just in...STAAR 5 & 8 results are a complete mess state-wide. Never mind that high-stakes tests have sucked the life out of students actually having a well-rounded school experience (certainly at the cost of the arts, if not vocational ed and other classes and activities that develop students with a dedicated mind towards achievement and eager learning), the word on the street is students were mislabeled, online testing results were lost in the program, permanent record labels shipped have different scores, students were wrongly coded for schools and programs, shortage of explanation materials by the testing service...the list goes on and on.

Texas, is this the amateur hour? There's a nation and statewide shortage of teachers and principals - do you really think public education is an attractive option? The accountability lays only at the school and classroom door. Everyone else just make the rules.


Are district officials listening to teachers concerns about Power-Up?
*Hot comment*

Power up

Many of our students don't show up with their computers. They prefer to leave them home and use their cell phones. Teachers are stuck because they need students to do their work so they let them use the cell phones and before you know it, whole classes aren't bringing computers. Students also complain because they say many teachers don't use the computers anyway. You watch students after school just hurl their computers to the floor and they go play or running around. How much have we spent for this technology? Who is really profiting from this? Don't tell me the students because at our high school, that is not the case. I'll bet it is like this at most high schools. And, college professors tell us they don't allow them in many classrooms because students will goof off. Who is deciding this is what our district needs?



THE END OF APOLLO & ASPIRE
HISD Interim Superintendent Huewitt offers amended budget proposal

*Gifted & Talented funding avoids cuts
*More funds for "hyper-poverty" campuses
*Busby's department avoids cuts
*All campuses will see reduction in standard funding 

@New and Improved HISD 2016(?)

*Hot comment*

First of all, I hope all school board trustees take the time to seriously read this comment. We want to thank this site for having the courage to post the unheard voices of those who were bullied and silent during the Grier regime. 
All school board members if your really want to transform our school district, please consider seriously these three salient points. 
1. Stop the superintendent search and wasting taxpayers money and select someone from HISD roots who is completely the opposite of Dr. Grier and who is bilingual because the bulk of student's parents in HISD are Hispanic and speak Spanish whether we they build a wall or not, Hispanics will completely transform HISD. 
2. Get rid of the Haberman screening process, it has been used effectively as a tool to eliminate highly qualified educators into the principal and teacher pipeline. The KIPP and YES prep hiring techniques do not work in a large urban school district. If you want for unqualified, out of state, and average two year tenure in our district go ahead and vote to keep it. But, you must consider asking the superintendent to require all current principals, SSO, and school chiefs to pass the Haberman every year and reapply. This is the fair method. 
3. Currently, one of the current topic in our presidential political debate is income inequality. Let's start with Mark Smith. He makes over $185,000 a year; this is the equilvalent of 4 new teachers. Before you vote in cutting a single teacher from our district. Please look at the direct impact on students, schools, and academic growth, Mark Smith has to justify his obscene salary. All he does is recommend to the school board to keep open a struggling charter school. There are folks in central office who are deserving of their salaries; those who are in charge of many schools and large district wide programs that directly impact academic achievement. Please look closely into Mark Smith's duties and see if it warrants his $185,000 salary. This is truly income inequality. 
Finally, can this website or someone post the highest salaries of HISD police officers? We have witness many who spend most to the day in an office playing games on a computer. Some make over $100,000 annually. Please someone post these obscene salaries. Many make more than highly educated and experienced school administrators. 
We appreciate all school board members to reflect on these comments because your role is critically important in transforming Houston ISD into a high quality educational district for all students. 
Our highest respect to you and this website!


STOP THE RACIAL POLITICS AND GET REAL
HISD's next superintendent should be the best qualified, and the search firm should be looking hard at Hispanic candidates

You can almost feel it. From the racial polarization at the board meetings and planning sessions to the tenor of comments made by Jolanda Jones and her sidekick Rhonda Skillern-Jones.  They must be looking for a black superintendent. It must be our turn, we can all imagine them thinking.

No, it isn't.

HISD is only 25% black and only 8% white. If the so-called leaders of the district wanted to do what's best for the 65% of its student body who are Hispanic, they would be looking for a qualified Latino candidate.

Most importantly, they should be looking for the best qualified candidate. They should not use the superintendent's position to appease Harvin Moore's clubby white donors or Jolanda Jones' allies.

Manuel Rodriguez and Diana Davila are poor representatives of the Latino community on the HISD board. However, they should be looking for the best qualified candidate. Hopefully, there is a best qualified Hispanic to take the district's reins.

Compared to the administrations of Rod Paige and Terry Grier, Abe Saavedra's time leading the district was so much better.

No, Ms. Jolanda, you can't spend your way into totally equal campuses with equal facilities. You can chip away at it, but you cannot be allowed to break the budget to accomplish in a few years (does anyone expect her to stay around longer in this non-compensated position?) to fix issues that should have been addressed a long time ago.

Do what's best for all of HISD students and campuses. Creating more inequality is not the solution.

Texas update from the Texas Tribune
HISD teacher vacancies up again: 394
Texas Education Agency recruits charter school experts as agency officials leave 
Beatriz Arnillas' twitter page
*Hot comment*
Cuts

@PowerUp - in the middle of budget and staffing cuts at schools, the IT dept reps travel extensively - just google Arnillas and see how much time she really spent in the district in the last year. Nevermind she is rude and a bully, she is not even in charge of the Powerup anymore, but she still has a full team of highly paid people - what are they doing, and why is nobody looking to cut them? Also, why is it that when everyone is cutting, IT continues to hire contractors (expensive help) - the place is literally swarmimg with them. Isn’t that money better spend on keeping teachers in classes? 
And does anyone keep track of the bond debt and the contracts that IT is making? Those are some big bucks, more that staffing a lot of the schools in the district


*Hot comment*

Houston Press recent Articles

Re: Richard Patton hires Dolcefino 
 

In HISD Chaos still Reigns... 



Bad Ass Teachers Association reports progress in war on testocracy

Best-high-schools

Two Texas magnet schools with selective admissions policies made the top 10.

Click Top 10 list for report.


For James Eckford

*Hot comment*

About a week ago, a young man by the name of James Ecford was shot and killed while protecting his mother from a purse-snatcher. James was a graduate of Westside High School and Stephen F. Austin University. He was a remarkable young man who did not allow his autism to prevent him from leading a successful, independent life.

James's mother, aunt, and grandmother all served HISD in some capacity. His grandfather, a successful businessman, was a lifelong volunteer in HISD schools. The entire family has served the HISD community. Now, if we are willing and able, is the time to serve them.

Please visit, and, if possible, make a donation to : https://www.gofundme.com/ssz6qza8


Dear Ms. Topper: End your obsession with STAAR English 2 scores
*Hot comment*

Dear Ms. SSO...

See below... so Ms. Topper is going to judge an entire  school based on English 2 scores and this survey to the entire faculty- which she refers to as "staff" ... Really???? English 2 scores from whatever exam is the only thing that is a measure of a school. Really??? sweetheart! you just failed the logic, statistics, and research part of my class at xxxx high school!! Are you the one doing this on school time? shame on you! cause "the staff" is teaching so our students will do well on ALL of those exams! How about you come out and observe what is going on at XXX high school... oh bring your fellow "scaredy cats" with you!! it can get rough at XXX high school! I am thinking your position needs to be rif'd if you have time to do this!

Survey Follow-up xxxxxx 
Topper, Jennifer C 
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2016 1:32 PM

Hello, I am a Houston ISD employee completing my doctoral dissertation on the impact of secondary school campus culture on student achievement gains. The number of xxxxxx High School teachers and administrators who have completed this short, anonymous survey currently falls just short of the threshold required for me to correlate the ratings that xxxxx teachers and administrators provide on this survey with the results xxxxx students get on their English II exam when the scores are released. If you have not already done so and want your scores to be included in xxxxx survey results, please take 5 minutes to complete this anonymous survey by clicking the link below. Thank you! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CorrelatingCultureAndAchievement


Corruption in Republican Texas politics
Even conservatives say Texas has a corruption problem
If conviced, Texas AG Paxton may be forced out; maybe then will get an honest attorney general
 

The Republican party of hate: Will it destroy the USA? 
Republican Georgia targets people of color

FRANK HODGES REPORTS: AUDITOR PATTON DID NOT DO HIS JOB 
*Hot comment*
Frank Hodges

As a 34 year employee of HISD, I followed the rules and reported gross waste and mismanagement that cost HISD millions of dollars in unsafe and substandard construction to HISD Chief Auditor, Mr. Richard Patton. This involves over three dozen HISD campuses where I personally witnessed grossly substandard, non-code compliant construction. Basically, HISD paid for construction and services it did not receive, so I reported what I witnessed, as we're required and expected to do as HISD employees. It's been a tough ordeal ever since. 

I 'd already reported the problems to the HISD Audit Committee, several individual Board Members, Superintendent Grier and COO Leo Bobadilla before reaching out to Mr. Patton last year. Even after much of what I'd reported became known, HISD failed to address the problems, and spent millions replacing shoddy construction, basically paying twice for the same work. I believed Mr. Patton would investigate this because he's supposed to be impartial, and immune to outside pressure and interference.

But Mr. Patton refused to meet with me, and he readily dismissed the allegations I brought forward. I was crushed, and very concerned for my well being and career, I had been warned I could lose my job for exposing the Bond Construction fraud. I had nowhere else to turn, and a few months after Mr. Patton refused to investigate my claims, I received a sub-par performance review and I was terminated.

I hope and believe the truth will surface, and it may already be happening. Superintendent Grier and COO Bobadilla resigned suddenly, and many of the employees that were involved have been let go, (though a few were promoted). The Board was and is responsible for what ultimately happens regarding the allegations made here. It's probably true that Mr. Patton was pressured from above to squash my complaints. But the Chief Auditor is the only fail safe we have to keep the Board in check. The system has to change, the Auditor must be free to audit.

Frank Hodges


Texas AG Paxton now has the feds accusing him of serious, federal crimes
IN VAPID OPINION LACKING ANY REAL CLARIFICATION, UNDER-INDICTMENT TEXAS REPUBLICAN AG PAXTON SUPPORTS HISD'S RIGHT TO KEEP CRIME INFORMATION AWAY FROM PUBLIC
Crime in HISD schools? Of course there is? Will you know anymore than houstonisdwatch has already reported, based on crime reports HISD submitted before HISD's legal counsel Kathryn Ellison, looking to justify her $109,000 annual salary, blocked further access? No.

In a shortly worded opinion, Paxton's office refused to address concerns presented by houstonisdwatch, citing Ms. Ellison's blockage as presenting "no novel or unique" circumstances.

As Paxton fights to keep himself out of federal prison, he allows HISD to do as it desires, shutting out the public from knowing vital information about their tax-supported schools safety issues.

So HISD turned to this guy for a legal opinion?
Judge oks amended indictments against Ken Paxton
Ken Paxton re-indicted...

 
California appeals court confirms legitimacy of teacher tenure
District V's Mike Lunceford checks in
After seeing his name and picture here, Mike Lunceford contacted houstonisdwatch to affirm he is not permitted to comment on Richard Patton's strange suspension. Trustees, as a rule, don't communicate when unprompted and, frequently, do not communicate even when emailed. Only Juliet Stipeche, now education czar for Mayor Turner, and sitting Trustee Anna Eastman have volunteered information to touch base with the community.

There is much more to come in the saga of Richard Patton.
Tackling ramifications of 5th Ward Poverty on agenda for new HISD chief: from HoustonChronicle.com
HISD board meeting video April 14, 2016
HoustonChronicle.com informs its readers about the lack of counselors & nurses in HISD schools 
HoustonChronicle.com catches up with with state media, finally reporting on Victory Charter
MEXICO ISN'T PAYING FOR YOUR DAMNED WALL, JACKASS TRUMP
Donald Trump, fellow Republicans, in the gutter, spewing hate against Latinos, blacks
Cheating? Many think so. Take all your deductions when you do your taxes. The federal government loses a trillion dollars to big corporations and their tax shelters
Walmart, Apple worst offenders
Read report at theguardian. 
Ted Cruz's twisted, dangerous, dark world 
"...But whatever its provenance, the story was interesting not so much because it’s unbelievable that any politician might have a zipper problem (it’s almost a requirement for office) but because it was the very pious Cruz being accused. This is the man, after all, whose first victory speech began with “God bless the great state of Iowa, let me first of all say, to God be the glory...”
GRIER'S MANDATORY IN SCHOOL SAT TESTING PUTS FREEZE ON EVERYTHING ELSE AND HISD PARENT IS NOT HAPPY
*Hot comment*

HISD parent (the original)

Re compulsory SAT testing, the rest of our kid's school was effectively on academic lockdown for five hours while the 11th graders took the exam. An entire day of instruction, lost. Another eff you to HISD from Grier.


GRIER'S GIFT TO THE COLLEGE BOARD KEEPS ON GIVING
For those too young to remember, the SAT has always been administered on various Saturdays throughout the school year. Students (parents) paid for the SAT testing unless economic circumstances allowed a waiver of fees to be used. One of Grier's first policies was to force the district to pay for every student's test, regardless of students means and willingness to pay for their own, and disrupt instruction to administer the test during the school day. 
 
Changes proposed to HISD's compulsory school attendance policy:
Office of the Superintendent of Schools Board of Education Meeting of April 14, 2016
 

Office of Student Support
Mark Smith, Chief Student Support Officer
 

SUBJECT:     PROPOSED     REVISIONS     TO     BOARD     POLICY                            FEA(LOCAL), ATTENDANCE: COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE—SECOND READING

 
As a result of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) review of Board Policy FEA(LOCAL), Attendance: Compulsory Attendance, the following revisions are recommended:
 
  • At STUDENTS AGE 18 AND OVER, update language to reflect the change in age to 19 years to align with the current law that already requires students to attend school through the end of the school year.
 
  • At WITHDRAWAL FOR NONATTENDANCE, revise the district's provisions to make those provisions applicable to students under the age of 19 and adjust the reference to FEA(LEGAL) for withdrawal of students age 19 or older. The revisions are based on the change to the age of compulsory attendance.
 
At the same section, add a paragraph about students with disabilities who are being considered for withdrawal to reflect the role of an Admission, Review, and Dismissal/Individualized Education Program committee in those cases.
 
  • At EXCUSED ABSENCES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION VISITS and EARLY VOTING OR ELECTION CLERKS, add an acknowledgment that those absences are in addition to the excused absences required by law. This revision will offer a better context for the district's local provisions.
 
The proposed changes are noted in the attached revised policy. COST/FUNDING SOURCE(S):    None
STAFFING IMPLICATIONS:                      None
 
ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS/IMPACT:    This   agenda   item   supports   HISD   Goal 4:
Increase Management Effectiveness and Efficiency and Goal 6: Create a Positive District Culture, and is aligned to Core Initiative 5: Culture of Trust through Action.
 
Did one ignored HISD employee bring down Richard Patton?
Here is the board statement
“Based on allegations of misconduct and other performance concerns you are being temporarily relieved of your duties and reassigned to home duty, effective immediately. We believe it is in your best interest and that of Houston Independent School District that you be temporarily reassigned until further notice.” - See more 
See more at Charles Blain reports...
34-year HISD employee has nothing good to say about Richard Patton
Report by Charles Blain: 

"...After being ignored by the Board of Trustees and other school officials, Frank Hodges a 34-year HISD employee, turned to the where he thought he could find resolution to the problem—the district’s Chief Audit Executive, Richard Patton. However, much like the other district officials, Patton did nothing.

Hodges released emails between Patton and himself alerting the chief auditor of the abuse he saw going on in the district, but Patton, displaying a cavalier attitude, brushed off concerns.

As recent as January 21st of 2015, Hodges reached out to Patton saying, “Can you please give me a date when we are going to meet to discuss my allegations of Waste, Mismanagement and Life Safety issues with HISD?”

Patton responded:

Please provide how you came up with your concerns and your level of expertise to make the allegations. In your opinion, do you think anyone in the District is at harm or risk of imminent danger as a result of your concerns? Can you provide me objective evidence to support your allegations?”

“In your opinion, what is the name of the person within HISD who is most knowledgeable of the situation or is directly responsible for the remediation of the issue?”

In an email responding to Patton’s inquires, Hodges said:

“I have previously provided voluminous amounts of correspondence, reports, photos and letters documenting dozens of known construction hazards, substandard construction and badly leaking HISD Bond Project Buildings.”

Continue reading Blain's report.
Backlash over Mississippi's anti-LGBT law isn't loud. After all, it is Mississippi...
HISD USES ITS TIME-TESTED NO COMMENT, NOT MY CONCERN, DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT STRATEGY TO CIRCUMVENT THE TRUTH
Hard to imagine how happy the worst school board in Texas is that Juliet Stipeche, chief instigator for a full and honest audit, is not longer on the board
 

  • Hot commet*
    Pork feast today, the Jr. SAT
     · Apr 12 2016 9:21 PM

    Today was another Terry Grier legacy day. It was SAT testing day for all HISD juniors, roughly 11,000. They were mandated by Dr. Grier with the approval of the Board 4 years ago to take the SAT under the pretense that every junior must have a taste of "rigor" to motivate them to go to college. Suffice to say, it was another Grier PR gimmick which put money into the coffers of the College Board which own other products like Advance Placement. (BTW Grier sits on the board of the $500 million plus non profit College Board. ) And how much money? The retail price for the SAT is $43. Let's say HISD gets a discount and the net cost is $35. With 11,000 juniors taking the exam today College Board raked in $385,000 in one day with little work. How sweet!! It also mined our HISD kids for data to sell elsewhere. I am OK with picking up the tab for some kids, but the SAT is an inappropriate test for many of our children who read 2 - 4 levels below grade. Totally absurd. A waste of money. What subtle message do you think our children will feel when they get back their pathetic scores? You lack grit. stupid? When this pork College Board contract comes up for renewal, the Board needs to gut this pig just like it did to Apollo and The New Teacher Project. Pork will be the Terry Grier legacy.

 

*Hot comment*
Connections of convenience, costing taxpayers, alleged

Facility Services

Westco has been benefiting for years. Rhonda Jones, Nicole West and Brian Busby are all in bed together. Just track the meteoric rise of Busby who has created a department of fear and intimidation tof benefit hIm and his cronies. Why do you think Grier and Bobadillas backed him ? As the kids say.......DUH!


*Hot comment*

Enquiring

@Re. Mr. Patton- Only Larry Marshall? How much did Paul Harris and her BFF make over the years of her sitting on the board? How may contracts went to her buddy and whatever happened to those receipts from Italy/

(editor's note: Nicole West took former Trustee Paula Harris to Italy. Harris and West never released receipts. It appears West paid for all the expenses and HISD has been paying her back many times over as a result)
Nicole West, aspiring Hollywood socialite
WESTCO VENTURES, RUN BY FORMER TRUSTEE PAULA HARRI'S FRIEND NICOLE WEST, SET TO MAKE SOME MONEY DOING EMERGENCY SCHOOL REPAIRS

EMERGENCY PURCHASE REQUESTS

 
FACILITY LOCATION DATE VENDOR AMOUNT SCOPE
Benavidez 1/11/2016 Blackmon $28,427.00 Fire  caused  by  heating  element  in heating
Elementary   Mooring   and air conditioner unit of T-Building No.  11.
School       The   fire    department    was    contacted  to
    Westco Ventures   extinguish    the    fire.    Blackmon    Mooring
    LLC   completed    the     clean-up     and     Westco
        completed  the  repairs.  The   Self-Insurance
        Recovery  Fund   (SIRF)   will   fund   cost for
        clean-up,    repairs,    and    replacement    of
        computers.
Butler 12/12/2015 Corte Enterprises $8,153.00 Driver lost control of their vehicle and ran into
Stadium       the  marquee.  The  Self-Insurance Recovery
        Fund (SIRF) will fund the cost to repair the
        damaged  marquee.  Total  cost  of    $8,153;
        school   will   pay   $5,000    to   satisfy   the
        deductible.
Elrod Elementary School 10/8/2015 Jamail & Smith $10,252.71 Hardies Fresh Foods was delivering produce supply and backed into the brick wall causing damage. The SIRF will fund the cost of repairs until Risk Management recovers the damages from the company.
Longfellow Elementary School 10/29/2015 Jamail & Smith $26,033.00 An HISD employee drove their vehicle into the building causing damage to both the exterior and interior. The SIRF will fund the cost of repairs until Risk Management recovers the damages from the employee’s insurance company.
Park Place Elementary 3/9/2016 Westco Ventures LLC $1,575.00 Repair 10’ damaged fence; Replaced gate latch post; straighten slide gate frame; replace and re-install chain; reset motor limit switches and operation
Pin Oak Middle School 12/11/2015 Corte Enterprises $34,840.00 Library flooded due to water drain back-up damaging the carpet and several bookshelves. Total cost of 34,840; school will pay $5,000 to satisfy the deductible.
Reagan High School 5/26/2015 Blackmon Mooring
Corte Enterprises
$97,725.00 The City of Houston was inundated with heavy rain which resulted in the flooding of the ROTC area located in the basement of the school. The flooding caused damages to sheetrock, rubber base molding and trophy cabinets. The ROTC uniforms were sent out to be cleaned, but it was unsuccessful. The uniforms will need to be replaced. Blackmon Mooring was called out for emergency cleanup and Corte was called out for repairs. The SIRF will fund the cost of cleanup, repairs, new uniforms, reimbursing the school for the unsuccessful cleaning of the uniforms and employees overtime. No deductible will apply.
Total      
$207,005.71
 
 
HISD WILL TAKE $400,000 FROM ALREADY BELEAGUERED SCHOOL BUDGETS TO SUPPORT DISTRICT VII TRUSTEE HARVIN MOORE'S PET PROJECT TEACH FOR AMERICA
Office of the Superintendent of Schools Board of Education Meeting of April 14, 2016
 
Office of Human Resources
Gloria Cavazos, Chief Human Resources Officer
 

SUBJECT:     CONSIDERATION   AND    APPROVAL   OF    TEACH   FOR                                    
AMERICA CONTRACT FOR THE 2016–2017 SCHOOL YEAR

 
The mission of Teach For America (TFA) is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort. TFA recruits outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and career interests to commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. Beyond these two years, TFA alumni bring strong leadership to all levels of school systems and every professional sector, addressing the extra challenges facing children growing up in low- income communities, building the capacity of schools and districts, and changing the prevailing ideology through their examples and advocacy.
 
TFA has placed corps members in schools in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) since 1991 and HISD is seeking the approval to renew the partnership with TFA for summer training and staffing for the 2016–2017 school year. The partnership premium rate for corps members is $5,000 per year for a critical-shortage teacher and $3,000 per year for all other content area teachers.
 
Beginning in the 2016–2017 school year, all TFA-eligible campuses looking to hire a first- year corps member will be responsible for the annual premium cost of that corps member at the rates above, with the understanding that the commitment for each corps member is two years. The district expects to hire up to 50 corps members for the 2016–2017 school year. Human Resources will continue to centrally fund the annual premium cost of second-year corps members who were hired in the 2015–2016 school year.
 
The amount indicated in this request covers the annual premium cost of all first- and second-year corps members at the rates identified above to be paid out in the 2016–2017 school year.
 
COST/FUNDING SOURCE(S):                 Up to $400,000
Campus Budgets
 
 
MORE WASTEFUL SPENDING FROM HISD'S CENTRAL OFFICE EDUCRATS
The district will spend $300,000 to replace teachers HISD is laying off
Office of Human Resources
Gloria Cavazos, Chief Human Resources Officer
 
SUBJECT:     APPROVAL    TO    SPEND   ALLOCATED   FUNDS   WITH                          

MULTIPLE VENDORS TO SUPPORT HUMAN RESOURCES RECRUITMENT PLAN

This agenda item serves as a request to approve the ability of the Human Resources (HR) department to spend allocated funds with multiple vendors to support the HR recruitment plan, effective for the remainder of the 2015–2016 school year and for the 2016–2017 school year.
 
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) HR department manages recruitment pools for teachers, campus administrators, associate teachers, and central office positions (as requested) to support annual hiring needs. Critical to building and managing these recruitment pools is the flexibility to spend with multiple vendors for travel, advertising, programming, and operational expenses.
 
Travel is primarily local and domestic across 50 states. International travel is also occasionally required. Travel is generally reserved for HISD recruiters and other district employees supporting recruitment efforts. The district also supports travel of university officials to HISD in an effort to strengthen partnerships that will increase the district’s student-teacher pipeline.
 
Advertising media can include billboard, radio, television, cinema, and other traditional and nontraditional media outlets, developed in English and other languages as needed to attract the most qualified candidates. Facility rentals are periodically required to conduct district teacher fairs, using facilities such as hotels, universities, and other locations conducive to holding a recruitment event. General operating expenses include payment to several vendors who support web-based communication services, job fair registration services, promotional and printing materials, and other services and supplies needed to build a strong and quality candidate pool.
 
COST/FUNDING SOURCE(S):                 The total cost for this program is not expected to
exceed $300,000 through the remainder of the 2016 fiscal year and all of the 2017 fiscal year, and will be funded by departmental funds allocated to organization 510.
 
And this is necessary because?

SUBJECT: APPROVAL TO RENAME AN EXISTING SCHOOL FROM MANDARIN CHINESE LANGUAGE IMMERSION MAGNET SCHOOL TO MANDARIN IMMERSION MAGNET SCHOOL

 
This request seeks approval to rename an existing school currently called Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School (MCLIMS) to Mandarin Immersion Magnet School.
 
As the only school in Texas that is entirely dedicated to Mandarin immersion, MCLIMS has received a lot of positive public attention. However, the school is often referred to incorrectly due to the length of its current name.
 
Chinese refers to all the languages that are spoken in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Mandarin is one of the Chinese languages and it is the official and most widely-used language in most Chinese-speaking regions. It is commonly used in governmental affairs, business fields, and schools. It is also the language that MCLIMS uses in its immersion program. However, since Mandarin is a Chinese language, it is redundant to include all three words, Mandarin Chinese Language, in the name of the school.
 
A committee that was formed to select a new name for the school voted unanimously to recommend that the school be named Mandarin Immersion Magnet School. This new name would describe the school’s unique program in a precise way that would promote a positive image for the Houston Independent School District (HISD).
 
 
Victory Charter School was told it could no longer operate so Mark Smith jumps in to rescue it
Office of the Superintendent of Schools Board of Education Meeting of April 14, 2016
 
Office of Student Support
Mark Smith, Chief Student Support Officer

Read: Texas law speeds shut down of troubled charter schools 
Meetings set for charter schools shutting down
State to close three Houston charter schools

 

SUBJECT: APPROVAL TO WAIVE A PORTION OF EL(LOCAL),  CHARTER CAMPUS OR PROGRAM, APPROVAL OF PARTIAL APPLICATION FROM VICTORY PREPARATORY ACADEMY, AND AUTHORITY TO NEGOTIATE AND EXECUTE A CONTRACT WITH VICTORY PREPARATORY ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL FOR THE 2016–2017 SCHOOL YEAR

 
Victory Preparatory Academy (Victory Prep) is currently serving more than 500 students at its two sites. Grades kindergarten–12 are served at a north campus located at 2903 Jensen, 77026, and grades 9–12 are served at a south campus located at 6011 W. Orem, 77085. In November 2015, the Texas Education Agency announced four state charter schools whose charters were recommended for revocation, including Victory Prep, which is located within the Houston Independent School District (HISD).
 
To mitigate the impact of this organization’s closure on the students and communities it currently serves, HISD proposes to contract with Victory Prep’s charter operator to become an HISD charter school. Therefore, it is requested that the Board of Education authorizes the Superintendent of Schools or a designee to negotiate and execute a contract with Victory Prep Charter School for school year 2016–2017. Because the district is seeking only to expand its charter offerings to include this single organization under extenuating circumstances, it is also requested that the Board of Education waive the portion of board policy EL(LOCAL) pertaining to the application process whereby a Request for Proposals (RFP) is required before the board can consider a charter’s application.
 
Lastly, it is requested that the Board of Education approve the partial application submitted by Victory Prep which includes evidence that Victory Prep will comply with the statutory and district requirements of a contract charter school and a petition signed by the parents of more than 50 percent of the students and more than 50 percent of the teachers requesting to become an HISD contract charter school. These items are on file in Board Services.
 
COST/FUNDING SOURCE(S):                 Cost will be based on actual student enrollment
at the contracted charter and will not exceed state Tier I funding, less five percent for administration
(GF1-11-6299-XXX- E/S1-141).
  
 
HISD board meeting agenda for August 14, 2016
Agenda review meeting for April 14, 2016 board meeting; Special meeting April 7, 2016 
Two items to note:

Approval To Spend Allocated Funds With Multiple Vendors To Support Human Resources Recruitment Plan G-2
Consideration And Approval Of Teach For America Contract For The 2016–2017 School Year H. BUSINESS OPERATIONS
HISD teacher vacancies shoot up to 364


What happens when kids don't have internet access at home
& no textbooks?

Chromebooks over iPads...



Ethics in Texas government any any level? 
E-rate scandal ensnared two sitting board members - Rodriguez and Meyers - and Richard Patton, who at the time was HISD's E-rate compliance officer, criticized the district's willingness to disclose information. (note Mike Lunceford's defense of then Inspector General Robert Moore who refused to answer direct questions about audits, recommended by Deloitte, were being done: He's not purposely being evasive, "That's just the walk he talks."

HISD apparently preferred double-speak to outing trustees with the truth. 
Officially, he isn't running. Unofficially, he sure looks like he plans to come out on top at a brokered convention
Here's is Paul Ryan's education plan. You know, just in case he's running.


Huewitt's lack of appropriate credentials and education experience draws critics


 
Margaret Downing & The Houston Press report: HISD AUDIT CHIEFS ALLEGED MISDEEDS KEPT UNDER TIGHT WRAP

"Did Richard Patton do such a good job investigating in-house corruption as chief auditor for the Houston ISD that members of his own board (made uneasy by his unrelenting queries) turned against him, as was suggested in a Houston Chronicle story Thursday?

Or was Patton leading some kind of double life, presenting a facade of Calvinist righteousness publicly while engaging in reprehensible conduct elsewhere, perhaps preying upon the very district he had sworn to protect?

Or did aliens come down from the planet Zartog and inhabit Patton's body causing him to behave in strange and unacceptable ways?

Take your pick..."

Continue reading Downing's report. 


Remember this one from the Houston Press October 2015?
Davila & Jones: not exactly a duo who inspire high ethical values based on past allegations

Only two groups are held accountable in HISD: Teachers and principals
*Hot comment*
Barkley

@@ BFF

I have to vehemently disagree. There are only 2 places the accountability falls in HISD - teachers and principals. In looking at the total disregard for the schools and jobs they do within the past 7+ years, it's a miracle some quality people have stuck around at the campus level. There are many out there. Hopefully the new superintendent will recognize the carnage and start the rebuilding of trust and relationships that are now so torn and tattered.

Not a single SSO lost their job because of accountability. Not a single chief lost their job because of accountability. The only reason any of them left was for better opportunity or they crossed Grier and he made their life hell. It's happened to many.

 
Mr. Patton's Catch-22
*Hot comment*
Cutting his own throat . . sorry Mr. Patton

There needs to be a legislative change when it comes to the Internal Audit Department for major school districts.. The TEA gives large school districts such as Houston, and Dallas the right to have their own internal auditor. This person reports to the School Trustees but is hired by the Superintendent. So, if a person finds that a person or key leadership in a Department, Superintendent Cabinet or Trustee has been engaged in malfeasance and attempts to report it the wrongdoing to the TEA, the TEA will send that individual back to HISD and they must report it to the internal auditor. (go figure). Let's say Mr. Patton wasn't a "good guy" and was foolishly supporting the administration and/or the school board, a person might as well slit their own throat. The case which I was involved with, the auditor allowed the Department Head to gather all of the evidence and provide it to them. Of course the Department Head could not find the information that would have incriminated him. All of the sudden the information came up missing.

You can't report any wrong doings to this Board of Trustees. .who can you trust? (play on words). The State Law has to change to give that position some independent authority with a dotted line to the TEA not to the HISD School District. Alma Allen would be best served in her Current position to introduce such legislation. This something that HFT should also get behind.

The Board of Trustees and the Ahole Grier expected staff including Mr. Patton spend the truth and to fall on the sword to protect their incompetence and unethical behavior.

I smell another case of Detroit or Atlanta brewing. . .somebody's about to meet bubba and become his cell mate. This is what happens when you betray the public's trust.

I am just sayin

& HISD trustees and ethics are contradictory terms in HISD: Auditor as victim 
My definition of despicable

Richard Patton is a fine man. His integrity is unquestionable. Leave it to the HISD board to try to destroy him. I just pray that someone fiercely devoted to justice will defend him against these scurrilous allegations--whatever they are, because no one seems to know. HISD School Board and Ethics are contradictory terms.


Rumors persist: Skillern-Jones has ties with a prominent HISD vendor

First off, before the HISD legal department swings into action, houstonisdwatch is just passing on a rumor. No one is being accused of wrong-doing, certainly not Satterfied-Pontikes, one of HISD's largest financial partners and litigators. The team of attorneys for S-P is involved in litigation pretty much everywhere and this site covered their policy of suing anyone and everyone who questions them before the November election.

The war on Paxton does seem absurd on face value. He was hired by the board and is a direct report only to them.  Trustee Mike Lunceford, who is kind of a nerdy wonk thinks very highly of him.

Rumors have persisted for a while concerning the ethics of RSJ.

*Hot comment*
 InThe Know

Skillern-Jones is leading the effort to terminate Patton. Based on the ABC report, the department received the highest rating from an external audit conducted by the head of the professional audit group based in Florida. Sounds like a witch hunt for sure. The new alliance that she is part of does not know her mis-deeds and inappropriate financial relationship with a prominent HISD vendor. There is much more to this than what has been published. Federal funds are involved. I suspect that the local FBI is now working with the federal DA by now. Too late to cover this up. Can't wait for the KPMG audit results of the bond program! The board may try to persuade them or place limitations on what they report.


You can't cut what you can't see

*Hot comment*

If I recall the line correctly from the movie The Predator, Arnold S. said something like, "You can't kill what you don't see." The same principle applies to our present budget crisis, namely, you can't cut what you don;t see. Some of our board members are adamant about cutting fluff contracts before impacting the teacher in the classroom. But they are not aware of them. To give an example CVPE flagged the Employee Relations office which enjoyed a $1 million increase in one year. BTW the Employee Relations office handles terminations of teachers. It outsources its cases to select law firms which I hear charge HISD $450 per hours. The board needs help identifying the pork. The readership of this blog should flag the bloated, worthless vendor programs. You can;t cut what you can't see.

Hutchins-Taylor     $190,550
Graff                        $138,866
LeBlanc                  $119,396
Galbraith                $119185
Graham                  $117,667
Woods                    $114,515
Ellison                    $110,313
Anderson               $104,030

HISD legal department salaries, emails, start dates
TRUSTEES SUSPEND AUDITOR HIRED BASED ON SKILLS & IMPECCABLE REPUTATION
But he had the gall to point out gross financial mismanagement on the part of board-supervised employees?  Hmm...a coincidence?  

Ted Oberg's investigative reporting team at ABClocal.com has the story

Keep in mind Mr. Patton had been given top evaluations by HISD in 2013 and 2015.
How do you think Mark Smith has survived numerous superintendent changes and still managed to increase his own power and salary?
*Hot comment*
Learned My Lesson

The reason Mark Smith is the last man (or woman) standing from pre-Grier is that he is willing to do anything to endear himself to whomever the next superintendent will be. He has cut more throats, back stabbed more of his own colleagues, including the ones that put him in a position of authority (Margaret Stroud). He will do or say anything to carry out anyone's dirty work. That is why he survives cut after cut. He will do the dirty work and have no problem doing it while "they" can stand back without blood on their hands. He does not operate in a vacuum. He is doing the bidding of those he kowtows to. And he enjoys it thoroughly. Not an empathetic bone is his body.


Ted Cruz: Increase/support charter schools; end any racial considerations in higher education admissions

What would President Bernie Sanders do to improve K-12 education in the USA?

In perspective: Any cuts made by school districts in Texas to the PUA will drag the state down even further in national rankings: right now, Texas ranked a lowly 38 in expenditures per pupil

From DallasNews.com report:

"...Texas also is now spending just under $100 more per student than four years ago, when massive funding cuts were enacted by the Legislature. Compared with the national average, Texas is spending $54,582 less per elementary classroom, according to the NEA study.

“We are still in the bottom tier of states when it comes to the money we spend on our public school students,” said Clay Robison, a spokesman for the NEA-affiliated Texas State Teachers Association. “This is a step in the right direction, but the Legislature can’t claim credit because a lot of this money is coming from local property taxpayers...”

Read Texas moves up in spending per pupil, still ranks in bottom third...
 



HISD's handy guide to understanding the 2016-2017 district budget 
Hard core Trump backers must worship stupidity
Still questioning why HISD has so much invested in people who are doing so little to help kids learn
*Hot comment*
Efficiency, Budgeting and Staffing Expert Needed

There really is no reason for schools to cut teachers. What is needed is a hard audit of the staffing for each school. What I have notice over the years is that new principals especially have added excessive new positions at the expense of the students. The first line item for a principal to consider is supplies for classrooms and programs. Believe me, if teachers have what they need to get the job done plus positive support, they will be successful. Instead, principals are opening excessive positions to "benefit" the office and these positions cost money. An elementary school with less than 700 students does not necessarily need an assistant principal. The principal should be able to handle the discipline. The most successful schools allow the principal to be in charge of discipline. Many schools have excessive support personnel such as clerks in the office. The secretary does not need his/her personal clerk. In fact, secretaries don't need their own office. Put them out front to assist and serve as the office manager. A staffing audit would uncover excessive staffing that does not directly benefit the students. Programs drive the number of teachers. Again I have seen many secondary principals stuff students into classrooms and programs so they could hire additional support staff.

Hopefully, the new superintendent will understand staffing in schools and order an audit. On the other hand they will need to redesign their own central office staffing. There is no reason to have so many chiefs who have a director and some even have an "officer" to do the grunt work. I would to take a red pen to the central office staffing chart.

Then there are the famous TDS and SSO positions. The new superintendent needs to order a data review for the schools assigned to each TDS and SSO and measure if there was actual growth in test scores under their watch. This will also assist him/her in making the point to get rid of these positions. Many TDS' and SSO's have insulated themselves believing them are untouchable. HISD Watch should make an open records request for the budgets that actually pay each of these individuals. I'll bet that you will find, especially TDS' are paid from budgets that should be given to schools including bilingual, special education, gifted and talented and Title II and III. In Grier's second year he recalled all Title II funds to the central budget. These funds had previously been in school budgets to support professional development. Oh no, Grier felt that the central office people could do a better job. This is perhaps one of the things that teachers hate most...PD given by a TDS. They are inconsistent in their message and knowledge base. A lot of cleaning up needs to be done.

 
HISD's cat with nine lives Mark Smith lives to preserve his salary and status  Mark Smith Office of Student Services Annual income $190,000
Mark Smith? Not so good for special education students in HISD?
*Hot comment*
Candid

Before the HISD Board finalizes the 2016-2017 budget, a complete peer review of the Special Education Department must be done including the replacement of the Assistant Superintendent.Mark Smith has literally ruined the department Too many programs and staff have been cut. Parents cannot get to the south side office. The department is poorly run and the leadership is ineffective. Students with disabilities deserve better.


Oh, the hypocrisy never ends
K-12 issues: Hillary has a plan for public education
Center for Public Education report on school funding
Introduction to school finance in Texas
The Budget Crisis: Save Texas Schools (caveat: Grier wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on failed projects and awarding friends and ass  kissers six salary jobs)

Congressional Republicans kicking poor & disabled people off food stamps
Charter schools, civil rights, and school discipline: A comprehensive view...
More obstruction from Katheryne Ellison's probable violation of the Texas Public Information Act

houstonisdwatch will be posting another potentially illegal action by an HISD attorney as the police report drama unfolds.

Katheryne Ellison
Assistant General Counsel
(713) 556-7084
kelliso1@houstonisd.org

But, now, consider latest data from charter schools. Thinking charter schools are so much safer than public schools?  Think again.  That's why the public's right to know about documented crimes, or alleged crimes, on HISD campuses must be protected. 
Teacher allegedly calls student a terrorist in FBISD
Where does all the white rage go when Donald Trump loses?
Some praise for Donald Trump

Budget cuts & the Chicago teachers union: from Diane Ravitch's blog
Diane Ravitch warned new teachers to stay away from Houston; her warning is still appropriate

STAAR test glitches "simply unacceptable" TEA chief says
Audit committee's requested report on project status Jan. 2016
Comprehensive bond audit report
New North Forest High School construction update

STAAR state-wide summary results for 2015-16
HISD currently advertising for 280 teachers
Four openings for Westbury High School 
Five openings for North Forest High School

OBSTRUCTION JUNCTION
HISD really wants us to disappear. No doubt thinking the district will win an endurance battle, the Public Information Office has refused to released requested documents, even though the request made by houstonisdwatch specifically asks the district to redact as required by law, and turned over the request to Texas Attorney General Paxton.

The request concerns police reports for Westbury High School. These reports were released last year and this year as well, until the district decided it just really didn't want to bother with us any longer.

Here is the district's rationale as written by a Ms. Katheryn Ellison:

Via C.M.R.R.R. No. 7013 2630 0000 9961 3046

The Honorable Ken Paxton
Attorney General of the State of Texas Open Records Division
Capitol Station
  1. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
 

Re: Ten day letter request for an open records ruling concerning a Texas Public Information Act request received on February 29,

 
Dear Attorney General Paxton:
 
On behalf of the Houston Independent School District (“HISD” or “District”), I respectfully request your opinion pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, Chapter 552 et seq. of the Texas Government Code (“TPIA”), regarding the disclosure of information requested by houstonisdwatch.
 
Houstonisdwatch submitted his request via email on February 29, 2016. See Exhibit 1. The tenth business day following receipt of the request is March 21, 2016 as the District was closed for Spring Break from March 14-18, 2016 and reopened on March 21, 2016. This request is therefore timely as it is postmarked today-prior to the deadline.
 
The District believes some of the responsive information must be withheld from disclosure pursuant to Sections 552.022 and 552.101 through Sections 552.154 of the TPIA including, but not limited to, the following exceptions:
 
  • TEX. GOV’T CODE §552.101 of the Texas Government Code, which exempts from disclosure “information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision.”
 
  • The District believes some of the information may be confidential pursuant to TEX. FAM. CODE §58.007(c), which provides for the confidentiality  of  juvenile law  enforcement  records; and/or,
 
  • The District believes some of the information may be confidential pursuant to TEX. FAM. CODE §261.201, which provides that information relating to a report of alleged or suspected abuse of a child and the identity of the reporter is confidential.
 
 
 
   

 

Attorney General Ken Paxton March 21, 2016
Page 2
 
request that HISD asserts should be excepted from disclosure; and (2) all necessary briefing of the issues.
 
By copy of this letter, we are advising the Requestor of the District’s position with respect to  this matter.  Please call me at (713) 556-7084 should you require any additional information.
 
Sincerely,

Katheryne Ellison Assistant General Counsel
 
houstonisdwatch response:

March 28, 2016
 
 
The Honorable Ken Paxton
Attorney General of the State of Texas
Open Records Division
Capitol Station
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, TX  78711-2548
 

Via C.M.R.R.R. No. 7013 2630 0000 9961 3046

 
Dear Attorney General Paxton:
 
houstonisdwatch has requested and received numerous police reports for HISD campuses. The public has a right to see documented instances of crime, or alleged crime, on all HISD campuses.
 
The request for Westbury High School has been submitted to you for invalid rationale.
 
HISD should redact any information protected by state and federal privacy laws. This has been a standing aspect of my requests. In the HISD police reports released to me so far this year, sensitive information has been redacted.
 
“The District believes some of the responsive information must be withheld from disclosure pursuant to Sections 552.022 and 552.101 through Sections 552.154 of the TPIA including, but not limited to, the following exceptions:
 
  • TEX. GOV’T CODE §552.101 of the Texas Government Code, which exempts from disclosure “information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision.”
 
  • The District believes some of the information may be confidential pursuant to TEX. FAM. CODE §58.007(c), which provides for the confidentiality  of  juvenile law  enforcement  records; and/or,
 
  • The District believes some of the information may be confidential pursuant to TEX. FAM. CODE §261.201, which provides that information relating to a report of alleged or suspected abuse of a child and the identity of the reporter is confidential.”
 
 
HISD has already done the necessary redactions in police reports I’ve received for Bellaire, Lamar, Madison and Yates High School this school year.
 
Ms. Ellison has made a redundant request. As manager of HISD’s public information office, she appears not to know which documents have already been redacted and released as requested.
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Precedent and my request for protected information to be redacted should allow you to rule in my favor.
 
Sincerely,
 
houstonisdwatch

 
Obvious reasons we have a teacher shortage
Alma Allen claims Turner's support for HISD superintendent's bid: from HoustonChronicle.com
Some of the people Republicans hate: Blacks, Muslims, Gays, Women...
First year leavings leaving the profession at an alarming rate
Republican racists on parade: Ted Cruz praised segregationist senator and black-hater Jesse Helms
Trustees Davila, Skillern-Jones, and Eastman are moving in the right direction on funding cuts, trying to avoid any reduction in classroom teachers

Still no firm commitment to cut central office administrators like CFOs, SSOs who should be the first on the chopping block

Ericka Mellon reports; Davila says cuts to gifted & talent programs like a "punch in the gut"  
IS HFT GOING TO FIGHT FOR TEACHERS OR RUN AND HIDE?
Incredibly impotent union has a history of counseling members facing RIF to "just take the deal"
Once again the leadership of HFT is going to be blindsided by a school board and uncertified so called interim superintendent ready to hack away at teachers' jobs while at the same time keeping the bloated bureaucracy created by Terry Grier passing out favors to his ass-kissers and friends.

HFT is notoriously weak in selecting effective leadership. Gayle Fallon stayed on board far longer than she should have and her friendship with Grier was detrimental to the goals of the organization.

Then HFT selected Zeph Capo for so far has been a big zero in terms of effective leadership. How can he work to save teachers' jobs when he serves as a trustee for the Houston Community College System? It's a classic situation of management vs. employee. Capo has shown no skill at moving from one role to the other.

How many teachers has HFT told to take the money and run? How many teachers have had to concoct their own defense so save their job and essentially have HFT put it on their letterhead just to make it official?

If you are paying dues to HFT you should be demanding front-forward leadership from Zeph Capo and the organization. Public chastising of a district that keeps a bevy of $130,000+ educrats employed while throwing out teachers is long overdue?

HFT should be complaining to the Houston Chronicle and the national press that a school board member is actually running the district. Yes, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, accused of campaign fraud and forced into a runoff, is calling the shots.

Zeph it's time to grow some balls and act like a leader. The victims will surely be the children of HISD and the district's teachers if you continue to hide behind your HCC moniker. 

 
He-must-love-the-KKK Republican Ross Kurtz doesn't want blacks to serve on Wharton County juries 
Christian Right really really doesn't want Americans to have access to health care 
Don't kid yourself: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the same person, and both want to turn the US into a police state
Librarians, nurses, and counselors are essential: CSO, SSOs are Grier-created assistant superintendencies are not
HISD could save millions by cutting its central-office bureaurcrats 
HISD trustees and Grier supported a model of feeding the non-campus based personnel and starving the schools with disastrous results
How many more reports of HISD's continuing failures do we need to see?

School librarians help kids develop the desire to read. Maybe HISD's abysmal reading scores have something to do with their cutting campus librarians?
Do schools need librarians? Diane Ravitch's blog
Libraries boost learning

When school districts cut school nurses they put children at risk
No school nurse related to death of Philadelphia student

Warning to Ken Huewitt and the HISD trustees: Banish all thoughts of promoting Grenita Lathan
*Hot comment*
Peoria Parent

Good morning. I wanted to provide some news out of Peoria, from which Grenita Lathan came. She is after all, one of your highest paid employees in your district, and one of Greer's "friends" who has followed him from both North Carolina and San Diego.

Our new superintendent is cleaning up the damage slowly, wreaked by Grenita the Great. I am simply informing you in case she gets any ideas about moving up in your system. The woman is pure evil.

Also, I hope she reads the second article and it pisses her off. You'll see what I mean when you read the first article from 2012.

And to Grenita from me: "Little Miss, Little Miss, Little Miss Can't Be Wrong: Ain't Nobody Gonna Bow No More When You Bang Your Gong!!!!" 
http://m.pjstar.com/article/20120412/News/304129867

http://m.pjstar.com/news/20160322/5-new-principals-approved-for-peoria-school-district-150

 
ANOTHER REPORT HIGHLIGHTS THE FAILURES OF TERRY GRIER, HISD TRUSTEES
HISD will throw more money down Grier's dark hole: More money for failing schools, more failing schools
Achievement gap in Houston is widening; Grier's policies helped the gap grow 

From Ericka Mellon's report: 

The achievement gap between low-income students and their wealthier classmates has increased in Houston-area schools at one of the nation's highest rates, according to an analysis released Thursday.

Houston ranked 86th out of 94 cities for its worsening gap from 2011 to 2014, faring slightly better than Dallas but worse than Austin and San Antonio. This means the gap increased more rapidly in eight of the cities examined.

"Students from low-income families in Houston are falling further and further behind their more advantaged peers across the state and nation," Ethan Gray, the founder and chief executive officer of Education Cities, said in a statement released with his group's report.

Read Ericka Mellon's report posted on HoustonChronicle.com
Science, Yes; Politics (and religious extremism), No
Keep your God - however you refer to Him or Her - out of our public schools
Students kicked out of class for not praying
Why does the Republican Party love the KKK?
Is the new HISD board worse than the previous one?
HISD is busy doing one thing: changing names of schools with Confederate ties and, in the process, spending millions to do it

Meanwhile, per pupil expenditures are being cut by significant amounts. So much for putting kids first.

Jolanda Jones has impressed no one with her racial antics. She makes Mr. Monroe look pale by comparison.

Diana Davila is representing her constituency which apparently believes HISD owes them more free stuff.

Whatever racial currents previously percolating below the surface are out in the open like dirty laundry.

Ken Huewitt is still not certified. He will take no responsibility for the test scores this spring. Of course, why would he? It's so easy to be the top dog in HISD.

Central office personnel still drain huge salaries from an over-extended budget, but not one at HISD has the guts to do anything about it.

Has the situation for the classroom teacher improved at all?

HFT is continuing in the tradition of Gayle Fallon, pretty much doing a mediocre job to fight for teachers' rights.  We won't even get into the negative publicity Zeph Capo's other job has generated, like bad land deals, graft, corruption, etc.

Someone suggested HISD needed time to heal. Do you see any healing going on? I mean, do you?   

Watch the board meeting video linked below. It's Keystone Cops meets third grade reading class.

Hope you had a nice spring break. Unfortunately, nothing got better while you were away.
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HISD board meets, punts on most major decisions, narrowly votes to change name of Reagan HS
ANOTHER HISD BUS CRASH; THIS TIME NINE STUDENTS SENT TO HOSPITAL
Video: March 20, 2016 board meeting
College and Career Readiness declines noted in superintendent's report

Findings
The percentage of students who scored at or above criterion on the SAT/ACT decreased by less than one
percentage point from 14.5 for the class of 2013 to 13.8 for the class of 2014.
Figure 1 shows the percentage of students who scored at or above TEA’s criterion for SAT or ACT to be
considered college and career ready. A smaller proportion of HISD students in the class of 2014 met this
benchmark compared to students in Region 04 and Texas overall. HISD performance is lower than that of
the region and state, in part because the district continues to test a substantially larger proportion of
students. For example, among the class of 2014, almost 99 percent of HISD students took either the SAT
or ACT compared to only 70 percent of students in Region 04 and 66 percent of students in Texas overall
(Figure 2).

HISD’s policy of exposing more students to college readiness assessments could also explain why average
SAT and ACT scores tend to be lower among HISD students compared to the region and the state (Figures
3 and 4); and why more students are scoring at or above 500 on SAT subject tests
See board agenda L.2 B for SAT/ACT report
 
Twitter: Terry Grier's legacy 
No polite way to put it: Grier left HISD in tatters  with huge budget deficit, broken bond promises, bloated bureaucracy, and 20% of district schools failing
From HoustonPublicMedia.com:  A Closer Look at Former HISD Superintendent Terry Grier's Legacy: 
  • “Probably controversial. But any time you make change, there’s controversy,” — Gayle Fallon, former president of the Houston Federation of Teachers
  • “It’s like a whirlwind tour as far as trying to keep up with him because he’s going to come up with another idea, another initiative to address something he saw in a school or throughout the population or something of that nature. So definitely whirlwind,” — Ken Huewitt, the new interim superintendent and former deputy superintendent and chief financial officer
Read complete report...
Lance-menster

Lance Menster's is HISD' curriculum guru who keeps missing the mark according to teachers and administrators with snapshot tests and constant changes.

HISD Administrator Quote · Mar 8 2016 5:43 AM @HISD Veteran

I totally agree. And I teach at a school with people who are fed up with Mr. Menster's continual changes to the curriculum. They aren't helping, he isn't helping. How did this guy get the job? He's a good talker (been there, heard him) but it takes more than pretty words to move the needle. I'm with you. Maybe a new superintendent will bring in his own person to clean up Menster's Mess and finally give us curriculum we can use.

P.S. Don't call over there to speak to Menster, he's perpetually unavailable.

Harper-enrollment

Obama never understood school reform and student success and his choice to replace Arne Duncan illustrates the end of his presidency can't come fast enough for public schools
What corporate school reformers want
More takeovers of majority minority schools which, so far, have produced disastrous results
Netflix: Replace public school teachers with computers: High tech charter schools

Finland's schools are top notch

How Finland broke every rule and established a top notch school program

HISD TEACHERS UNION JOINS BIG OPT OUT MOVEMENT
HFT SUPPORTS PARENTS WHO CHOSE NOT TO ALLOW THEIR KIDS TO PARTICIPATE IN HIGH STAKES TESTING 

UNITED OPT OUT: Parents, teachers, students, educators join together to stop high stakes testing and end corporate school reform
"...The Houston Federation of Teachers has endorsed parents' right to opt their children out of standardized exams, joining a national movement against high-stakes testing.

The union, in a resolution released Monday, called the Houston Independent School District "ground zero for the over reliance on and inappropriate use of standardized tests." The nation's seventh-largest district uses students' exam results to evaluate teachers and to decide who receives performance pay. The bonus program, however, may come to an end in early 2017 amid a looming budget shortfall.
Texas law does not recognize opting out as an option for students. The Texas Education Code states, "A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester."



Just say no to the testing: Fair Testing

Testing overuse and misuse is damaging public education by eating up classroom time, narrowing curriculum and driving many students out of school. It is perpetuating a false narrative of failure and putting schools in low-income communities at risk of closure or privatization.

“Opting out,” or refusing to take government-mandated standardized tests, is a powerful way to protest this educational malpractice. Nationally, hundreds of thousands of parents, teachers and students are fighting back against high-stakes testing overkill by exercising their right to opt out, boycott or refuse. It’s one way to educate others about how the harms of excessive testing and an important way to tell policymakers they must change course.

The exploding opt-out movement has already achieved its first victories. It is altering state and local testing policies for the better, reducing the number of tests and lowering their stakes. A larger, stronger out-out movement win even more substantial assessment reforms.
 


Gang-103

Yates High School police reports: assaults, drugs, suicide ideation, and the reappearance of Gang 103.

Click image to read HISD police reports.

Madison-high-school

Illegal drug distribution, car theft, assaults highlight Madison High School's police reports for 2015-16.

Click image to view reports.


Grier & his trustee supporters increased the number of failing schools despite wasting millions on Grier's pet projects
2012-2013 Texas PEG list of HISD's worst schools

ATTUCKS MIDDLE
BLACKSHEAR EL
BONHAM EL
 DEADY MIDDLE  
DOMINION ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL
DOWLING MIDDLE
FONDREN MIDDLE
FROST EL
GARCIA EL
GREGORY-LINCOLN ED CTR (EE-5
HARPER ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL
 JONES H S
KANDY STRIPE ACADEMY
KASHMERE H S
KELSO EL
KEY MIDDLE
LEE H S
RYAN MIDDLE
SHARPSTOWN H S
STERLING H S
TEXAS CONNECTIONS ACADEMY
WASHINGTON B T H S
WESTBURY H S
WHEATLEY H S
WORTHING H S

2012-13 TPEG list...

2015-16 TPEG list...
 

Trustees and Grier administration played fast and loose with Texas certification law
ESTHER OMOGBEHIN ISN'T CERTIFIED IN TEXAS
*Hot comment*


Chronicle Database info

 

Name Terry Grier 
School/Office Central office 
Job title Superintendent 
Total bonus $98,600.00 
Primary bonus $98,600.00 
Apollo bonus $0.00 
Apollo eligibility n/a 
Lead principal bonus n/a

Jocelyn Mouton Central office Chief Support Officer $17,832.00 Details Details 
Samuel Sarabia Central office Chief Support Officer $17,307.00 Details Details 
Karla Loria Central office Chief Support Officer $15,750.00 Details Details 
Michael Cardona Central office Chief Support Officer $15,021.00 Details Details 
Harrison Peters Central office Chief Support Officer $14,790.00 Details Details

Esther Omogbehin Central office School Support Officer $14,569.86 Details Details 
Julia Dimmitt Central office School Support Officer $14,009.15 Details Details 
Michelle Cloud Central office School Support Officer $11,316.00 Details Details 
Jermaine Dawson Central office School Support Officer $11,004.00 Details Details 
Robert Lundin Central office School Support Officer $10,690.00 Details Details 
Diana Gibson-Johnson Central office School Support Officer $10,503.00 Details Details 
Mario Marquez Central office School Support Officer $10,316.00 Details Details 
Angie Miranda Central office School Support Officer $9,752.00 Details Details 
LaQuita Carter Central office School Support Officer $9,751.00 Details Details 
Angela McConico Central office School Support Officer $9,627.00 Details Details 
Patsy Cavazos Central office School Support Officer $9,439.00 Details Details 
Daryl Sherman Central office School Support Officer $9,314.00 Details Details 
Cesar Martinez Central office School Support Officer $9,191.00 Details Details 
Charles Foust Central office School Support Officer $9,001.00 Details Details 
Steven Gutierrez Central office School Support Officer $8,940.00 Details Details 
Matilda Orozco Central office School Support Officer $8,940.00 Details Details 
Rhonda Johnson Central office School Support Officer $8,876.00 Details Details 
Nicole Moore Central office School Support Officer $8,797.22 Details Details 
Francisco Penning Central office School Support Officer $8,689.00 Details Details 
Erick Pruitt Central office School Support Officer $8,502.00 Details Details 
Noelia Longoria Central office School Support Officer $7,961.00 Details Details 
Deborah Crowe Central office School Support Officer $7,358.14 Details Details 
Jennifer Topper Central office School Support Officer $6,655.48 Details Details 
Kenneth Davis Central office School Support Officer $5,751.00 Details Details
 



*Hot comment*
Anti-literate

No librarians. No libraries. No books. No excuses.

This administration's approach to reading could best be labeled "anti-literacy". They explain the absence of librarians/libraries by citing budget concerns, but that excuse shouldn't fly with anyone who's witnessed the ridiculous expenditures over the last seven years (look at the programs and positions created by Grier). This isn't a question of affordability; it's a question of priorities.

Corporate school reform doesn't work. All it does is replicate the worst practices of big business. Students are not widgets and teachers are not assembly-line workers. The sole purpose of the worker bees (teachers) is not to glorify/enrich the ruling class (superintendents). Greed is killing our country. Don't let it kill our schools. Or is it too late?

Sorry about the rant. It's late and I'm tired.
 


Griers-bonus

Grier's evaluation structure was designed by Paula Harris friend Frank Jones Jr. who also served as her campaign manager. A contract lush with perks and low targets has allowed Grier to amass a nice payout from the taxpayers of HISD.

Incoming Trustee Diana Davila approved Grier's contract during her first run on the board.

At the time the contract was written and approved, Paula Harris' friend Nicole West was beginning her successful bid for HISD contracts and Diana Davila had not yet become the subject of potential scandal.

click link for Ericka Mellon's report.

District-iv

Ann McCoy, by far the favorite of the Greater Houston Partnership and corporate school reformers, is swamped with cash. If you are a District IV resident and voter, McCoy represents everything that must be changed in HISD.

click link for Ericka Mellon's excellent report at HoustonChronicle.com

Waiver-graphic

Three trustees voted no on Grier's proposal to reduce class size waivers from 1,499 in 2014 to 875 this year. click waiver graphic for Erica Mellon's HoustonChronicle.com report. (graphic produced by HoustonChronicle.com)

Evaas-high-school

HFT's Zeph Capo is both an HCC trustee and a union president. He better put on his union hat and go on the attack. These results will be used by HISD to justify firing more teachers but they really are an indictment of the system Grier & his trustees have put in place.

HFT sees no need to engage in public relations battles with the district. But if its mission is not to educate the public to support real teaching & learning which, in essence protects the integrity of the teaching profession, whose mission is it supposed to be?

Pershing-clusters-graphic

69 black students - 10 white 59 black students - 18 white 57 black students - 12 white 29 white students - 8 black 41 black students - 9 white 25 black students 7 white

Only clusters 7-1 & 7-2 attempt to provide balance in membership.

Staar-eoc-aug-12

High school test scores also show declines

houstonisdwatch.com HISD Updates