Tuesday, July 10, 2018

HCDE Breaks Texas Open Meetings Act... Again!

Today, the HCDE Board held a Special Board Meeting to discuss one agenda item in closed session:
A. Discuss and obtain legal advice regarding incident between student and teacher
But 2 minutes into the meeting, AFTER the Board President has already read all the required statements and adjourned to closed session, the Board’s attorney said they didn’t have a quorum, because only three of the seven members were present in person. The fourth, attending via video conference, could not be counted for the quorum because Texas statute reads:
Sec. 551.127. VIDEOCONFERENCE CALL. (b) A meeting may be held by video conference call only if a quorum of the governmental body is physically present at one location of the meeting,…
So six minutes in, the meeting was adjourned for lack of quorum.

BUT ... just 2 weeks ago, on June 27, 2018, the HCDE Board held another Special Board Meeting for one agenda item.
A. Employment
     Principal, AB School East
Just like the meeting today, only three of the seven board members were physically present. A fourth, Erica Lee-Carter, was present via video conference. So legally, they did not have the quorum required by law.

But that didn’t stop them. Not only did they hold the meeting, they went into closed session, and later voted to approve a Principal at AB School East.

OOPS … There are at least three conflicts with the Texas Open Meetings Act:

1. First, HCDE did not have a quorum physically present, so no board meeting could take place.

2. Second, HCDE could not hold a closed session for private discussion among four board members without first convening in a legal open session.

3. Third, they approved an employment position in an illegal meeting, so the vote is voidable.

Colleen Vera

Monday, July 9, 2018

HCDE Caught in a Lie

Fox 26 has been reporting on abuse allegations from one of HCDE’s alternative schools for special needs students. Mainly, a specific incident in the Fall of 2017 involving the alleged physical abuse of a special needs student from Cy-Fair ISD.

View Video: Here

Further, a former teacher was interviewed claiming HCDE does not have a behavior management specialist on campus, leading to the repeated use of physical force to restrain students.
                                                              View Video: Here

HCDE's comment to the report reads:

                                                      View Full Report:  Here

Oops…HCDE should have never put that in writing because their own records show that statement to be FALSE.

Last year I filed the following request for public information with HCDE:

HCDE sent me the following reply:

HCDE’s own records show the behavior management position HCDE claims has been serving HCDE's Special Schools for the past 9 years has:

  • NO Job Description
  • NO contract for a person holding that position 
  • NO work schedule documents, and  
  • HCDE made NO payments to a person holding that position from 12/1/16 through 2/1/17

Senator Bettencourt even showed HCDE's claim to be FALSE at a Texas Senate Education Committee hearing on  April 11 of last year.
 Forward to  3:19:48  -  Here

Emails I obtained through open records show that the former teacher interviewed by FOX 26, Ron Angeletti, asked the HCDE administration for the name and contact information of HCDE's behavior management specialist so he could get help for his students.

You can read for yourself the run around the teacher received when he asked the Principal for the name and contact information of HCDE's campus behavior management specialist …. 

Principal: Mr. Angeletti we have the same Behavior Specialist  as the ABS-East campus. 
Teacher: Who are you referring to... It is my understanding that ABS East does not have a Behavior Specialist. Would you please specifically state the name and contact information of your campus (ABS West) Behavior Specialist. 
Principal: We do not have a campus behavior Specialist at this time. We share a BCBA. 
Teacher to Superintendent: Are you aware that your Behavior Centers (ABS East, ABS West) do not have Behavior Specialist on staff? If so, how do you suppose that the needs of the students are being meet as it pertains to behavior?
          View full email chain: Here

The HCDE teacher never did get the name of any behavior management specialist available for his students.

Instead, two weeks after sending his email to the Superintendent, HCDE not only suspended the teacher without pay, they did not renew his contract.
                                           Read Full Board Meeting Minutes 2/28/17: Here

Even the list of positions recently approved for HCDE’s Special Schools at the May 16, 2018 HCDE board meeting shows no position related to behavior management.
View Full Agenda :  Here

So, HCDE’s administration has been caught in a BIG LIE that is hurting the special needs students whom the ISDs have placed in HCDE's care. 

This time the Board can’t claim “they didn’t know” that HCDE doesn't have a behavior management specialist on staff in their special schools because…

  • Senator Bettencourt read it into the Legislative record on April 11, 2017 with Board members  present and
  • Former HCDE teacher Ron Angeletti gave copies of his emails to the entire Board when he spoke passionately about his concerns  at the Board meeting on April 18, 2018. (8:00-12:45)
Who is going to stop HCDE's lies?

Well, here’s the problem:

  • HCDE is a stand-alone Political Subdivision of the State of Texas.  It answers to no one but the Texas Legislature because
  • HCDE is the only remaining County School Board in Texas, left over from the early 1900s and
  • The laws governing HCDE were so antiquated that the Legislature repealed them in the 1990s.
That means there is no one for the people to call to force HCDE to tell the truth.

The Texas Legislature doesn’t meet again until 2019, so currently the best protection the students have is from the ISDs to which they are zoned.

The ISDs contract with HCDE to place special needs students in HCDE's alternative schools at a cost of $20,000+ per year per slot.

It is the responsibility of the ISDs to step up to protect their own students.

The ISDs must:

  • Insist on documented proof the students are receiving the support and services HCDE has been  contracted to provide and
  • Start sending SURPRISE inspectors on a regular basis to guarantee that their special needs students are receiving  ALL the services the ISDs are paying HCDE to provide. 
If you are a taxpayer in any of the following districts, you should contact your Superintendent’s Office to insist that your ISD: 

  1.  Require documented proof that your student(s) attending HCDE’s Special Schools are receiving ALL the services HCDE is being paid to provide  and 
  2. Send SURPRISE inspection teams to ensure HCDE is delivering the quality service your children deserve:

Aldine ISD   
Dr. LaTonya Goffney 
(281) 985-6200

Alief ISD
HD Chambers    
(281) 498-8110 ext 29219   
Alvin ISD
Buck Gilcrease, Ed.D.
(281) 388-1130
Barbers Hill ISD
Dr. Greg Poole
(281) 576-2221
Bellville ISD
Michael Coker
(979) 865-3133    
Channelview ISD   
Greg Ollis     
(281) 452-8008   

Clear Creek ISD   
Dr. Greg Smith  
(281) 284-0002  
Conroe ISD   
Dr Curtis Null   
(936) 709-7702   
Crosby ISD  
Dr. Scott Davis
(281) 328-9200 ext 1202  
Cypress Fairbanks ISD   
Dr. Mark Henry  
(281) 897-4077   
Deer Park ISD  
Victor White
(832) 668-7080
Dayton ISD
Dr. Jessica Johnson    
(936) 258-2667 
Dickinson ISD  
Vicki Mims
(281) 229-6000
Fort Bend ISD    
Charles E. Dupre, Ed.D
(281) 634-1000    
Friendswood ISD 
Thad Roher
(281) 482-1267
Galena Park ISD
Dr. Angi Williams
(832) 386-1000
Galveston ISD   
Dr. Kelli Moulton
(409) 766-5121
Goose Creek CISD 
Randal O'Brien  
(281) 707-3220

Hitchcock ISD 
Carla Vickroy    
(409) 316-6545   
Houston ISD
Grenita Lathan
(713) 556-6300
Huffman ISD 
Dr. Benny Soileau
(281) 324-7606

Humble ISD
Dr. Elizabeth Fagen
(281) 641-1000
Katy ISD
Dr. Lance Hindt
(281) 396-2304

La Porte ISD
Lloyd Graham
(281) 604)-7000 
Magnolia ISD
Dr. Todd Stephens
(281) 356-3571
Pasadena ISD
Dr. DeeAnn Powell
(713) 740-0242 Ext 70244

Pearland ISD
Dr. John Kelly
(281) 485-3203
Santa Fe ISD
Dr. Leigh Wall
(409) 925-3526
Sheldon ISD
King R. Davis
(281) 727-2006

Spring ISD
Dr. Rodney E. Watson
(281) 891-6025

Spring Branch ISD
Scott R. Muri, Ed.D
(713) 464-1511
Stafford MSD
Dr. Robert Bostic
(281) 261-9202
Texas City ISD
Dr. Rodney Cavness
(409) 916-0100
Tomball ISD
Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora
(281) 357-3100 ext 2005

Colleen Vera