To: HISD Parent Visionaries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For months now, we have listened to HISD and others preach about the new financial reality in pubic education and the unprecedented constraints placed upon school districts by the State. This "new financial reality" has translated in very painful cuts including a $275 per child funding reduction for every student in HISD. As a result, hundreds of teachers have lost their jobs, programs have been discontinued, and in-demand program offerings reduced. This upcoming academic year will be very different from last year.
If we believe this is the beginning of a new financial reality for public education, this new reality requires that HISD aadministrators and trustees hold themselves to the highest standards of ethics and fiduciary responsibility. This means that the standard must not be "If it is not illegal, it must be ethical and O.K.".
Instead, this means that when HISD administration brings recommendations to the board, parents and taxpayers should have confidence that the recommendations are sound and that the bidding process was straightforward, fair and free from influence. We must demand that recommendations are the best financial/value alternative for the district and that the work being bid is not redundant or unnecessary. Our children cannot afford a system of waste, misuse, and excess.
Over this summer, there have been numerous allegations of improprieties involving contracts and potential influence by trustees and high level administrators in the district's awards process which have recently been revealed in the press. There have also been reports of HISD allegedly overpaying for contracts.
As a result, Trustee Anna Eastman and others are calling for a third party audit of HISD's bidding and procurement processes. While the result may show that there was not actual wrongdoing or illegal activity, it may bring about better standards, ethical practices, greater fiduciary responsibility.
Dr. Grier himself sees the value in third-party investigators since that was his response to a recent potential TAKS cheating scandal. According to the Chronicle story, "But district Superintendent Terry Grier, who has called for third-party investigations into all alleged testing irregularities, vowed to oust teachers who cheat and said the district will consider placing monitors in all classrooms during testing." Grier continued, "This is an issue of ethics, plain and simple."
Parents expect the same from administrators and trustees. I am sure we can look forward to the superintendent supporting the trustees call for a third-party investigation. Afterall, this is an issue about ethics, plain and simple, and the resulting waste and loss in student funding.
Please, email your support for a third party investigation to your board member.
Recent press articles about potential bid and contract irregularities.
There are many other press reports but you should get the gist from the above articles and related links embedded in the stories.