Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why We Must Abolish the Texas Education Agency PT.2

Plaintiff §
v. §
DOE in their individual §
capacities §
Defendant § 53rd JUDICIAL DISTRICT


I, Vida Belford, being over the age of 18 years of age, of sound mind and competent to make this affidavit, hereby depose and say that the following is true and correct according to my personal knowledge.

1. When traditional public schools fall behind in their essential purpose there should be an alternative. Unless there is, students will be deprived of the opportunity to succeed and the long term competitiveness of our economy will suffer. Business in this country needs an educated and diverse workforce. Charter schools seemed to be a reasonable mechanism to allow parents who are dissatisfied with the quality of the education being offered in the public schools to take control. Charter schools offered disadvantaged minorities an alternative that could change their lives. Charter schools extend beyond disadvantaged urban areas to poor rural areas. The competition from charter schools has been confirmed to provide an incentive for public schools to do a better job. The charter schools teachers are encouraged to think outside the box, they tend to generate innovative approaches to education that are transferable to the public schools. To be a successful teacher in a charter school, you have to be highly motivated. You have to be interested in actively working with parents as well as the students because most charter schools really do focus on getting everyone involved. Teaching in a charter school is not a nine to five job, it is literally a 24/7 commitment. Teachers have more time to be innovative.

Charter schools are created by founders who are required to be members of the community (parents, teachers and the like). The idea of a charter school usually starts with three or four parents who are frustrated with the local public schools and want to obtain a quality education for their children. Typically, the group expands to include members of the community who no longer have children in school, but believe strongly in education and are frustrated with their local district is not providing the education that they think their grandchildren and others in the community deserve. Seasoned educators become interested, which has been a trend in the charter schools.

2. ACLSC Charter School is an alternative to an alternative school of choice within Greater Houston metro area and surrounding counties. ACLSC has made many positive contributions to improve the educational opportunities to thousands of at risk urban learners caught up in anti-social and sometimes criminal behavior. ACLSC has a proven track record of success in meeting the social, developmental, and educational needs of these students. Having a free day care on campus provides young teenage parents, primarily adolescent girls, with an opportunity to continue their education free of worries about inadequate or unaffordable child care. The school provides parent training, child nutrition and developmental classes designed to teach these students appropriate parenting and child nurturing skills, while at the same time, enhancing their understanding of their overall responsibilities as parents. Juvenile crime and anti-social deviance is a serious problem in most major urban areas including Houston metro area. Many of these youth eventually wind up incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities and correctional institutions. ACLSC has an innovative and comprehensive educational curriculum designed to steer at risk urban learners away from destructive anti-social behavior.

ACLSC offers an array of programs and educational activities, including accelerated learning, that will help rehabilitate these youth and guide them into more constructive life choices. Since many students referred to ACLSC have been adjudicated as juvenile delinquents by the juvenile courts, the school serves as a juvenile justice, welfare, and prison reform program in the community and Greater metro area. School staff works cooperatively and in collaboration with law enforcement agencies in the Texas criminal justice system, including the criminal courts and probation departments serving Harris, Fort Bend, and surrounding counties. ACLSC serves as a community service site for these agencies. Representatives and officials with the juvenile parole and probation departments visit the school on a daily basis, and the school staff routinely appears in court to serve as advocates for some students and to report on individual student progress as appropriate. Many students are referred to ACLSC from the Texas Youth Commission, and the staff work closely with TYC to monitor and evaluate individual student progress and performance. The school offers individual counseling in anger management, behavior modification and chemical dependency. ACLSC has a prison reform intervention program. Students who experience on going disciplinary and truancy problems are referred to the program for counseling, mentoring or other services. The initiative is to educate these students about the risks and personal destruction that invariably results from criminal behavior. The student receives counseling and may attend one or more court sessions. Students will also visit a penal institution to see and experience, first hand, a prison environment. We believe upward mobility is important for the success of our students. Along with the more traditional educational curriculum, ACLSC also serves as a job-readiness and employment site for at risks urban learners. The school provides free transportation, tutorials, and extracurricular activities. Students can take classes in driver’s education, woodshop, auto mechanics, carpentry, computer literacy, drama, dance, home economics and music production. Given the current popularity of pop music, the school has a recording studio designed to teach students the fundamentals of sound engineering and music production. Our goal is to rescue each and every student, one by one if necessary, before it is too late.

3. The primary source of funding for charter schools comes from the Foundation School Program (FSP) and is based on the number and types of students attending school (what the agency calls Average Daily Attendance [ADA]). The weighted ADA (WADA) is ADA plus adjustments for students participating in special education, career and technical education, bilingual/ESL education, state compensatory education, and/or gifted and talented education programs. Schools that choose to provide transportation to students receive additional state funds. Charter schools are not entitled to participate in the instructional facilities allotment or the existing debt allotment. See TEC § 46.036.

Charter schools do not have taxing authority and, accordingly, generate no property taxes. The following paragraphs address the methods of state funding for charter schools.
For school year 2007-2008, funding to charter schools that were in operation prior to September 1, 2001, is based on 50% of the amount of state aid the sending district would have earned for each student (calculated using the sending district’s Adjusted Allotment and Enrichment Tax Rate). If the sending district is one that does not receive FSP state aid, the state aid to the charter school may be based on the sending district’s average maintenance and operations tax collections per ADA if this method is more beneficial to the charter school. The additional 50% of state funding for a charter school in operation prior to September 1, 2001, is based on the state average formula which uses a state average adjusted allotment, state average enrichment tax rates, and a state average additional state aid for tax reduction (ASATR) per WADA. The name of this funding formula is the Resident District dependent formula.

The funding system for charter schools is different for schools beginning operations after September 1, 2001. See TEC § 12.106. The State Average formula is based solely on the state-wide average funding per weighted student calculated using the state average adjusted allotment, state average enrichment tax rates, and a state average additional state aid for tax reduction (ASATR) per WADA. The name of this funding formula is the State Average formula.
For schools in operation prior to September 1, 2001, the State Average funding system will be phased in over 10 years beginning in 2003-2004, and during the phase-in period the schools will receive a portion of their funding under the Resident District formula.

The primary source of funding for charter schools comes from the Foundation School Program (FSP) and is based on the number and types of students attending school (what the agency calls Average Daily Attendance [ADA]). The weighted ADA (WADA) is ADA plus adjustments for students participating in special education, career and technical education, bilingual/ESL education, state compensatory education, and/or gifted and talented education programs. Schools that choose to provide transportation to students receive additional state funds. Charter schools are not entitled to participate in the instructional facilities allotment or the existing debt allotment. See TEC § 46.036.

Charter schools do not have taxing authority and, accordingly, generate no property taxes. The following paragraphs address the methods of state funding for charter schools.
For school year 2007-2008, funding to charter schools that were in operation prior to September 1, 2001, is based on 50% of the amount of state aid the sending district would have earned for each student (calculated using the sending district’s Adjusted Allotment and Enrichment Tax Rate). If the sending district is one that does not receive FSP state aid, the state aid to the charter school may be based on the sending district’s average maintenance and operations tax collections per ADA if this method is more beneficial to the charter school. The additional 50% of state funding for a charter school in operation prior to September 1, 2001, is based on the state average formula which uses a state average adjusted allotment, state average enrichment tax rates, and a state average additional state aid for tax reduction (ASATR) per WADA. The name of this funding formula is the Resident District dependent formula.

The funding system for charter schools is different for schools beginning operations after September 1, 2001. See TEC § 12.106. The State Average formula is based solely on the state-wide average funding per weighted student calculated using the state average adjusted allotment, state average enrichment tax rates, and a state average additional state aid for tax reduction (ASATR) per WADA. The name of this funding formula is the State Average formula.
For schools in operation prior to September 1, 2001, the State Average funding system will be phased in over 10 years beginning in 2003-2004, and during the phase-in period the schools will receive a portion of their funding under the Resident District formula.

A school district may use state aid received pursuant to the Texas Education Code (TEC), Chapter 42, Subchapter B, and indirect costs as defined in §105.11 of this title (relating to Maximum Allowable Indirect Cost) for any lawful purpose, including operations and using, purchasing, or acquiring real property or land; improving real property; constructing or equipping buildings; renovating real property; repairing real property; or maintaining real property. A school district may fund obligations from state aid, received pursuant to the TEC, Chapter 42, and Subchapter B, including reduction of bond tax by deposit into the district debt service fund, lease purchase agreements, and public property finance contracts authorized
under the Local Government Code, §271.004 and §271.005; time warrants issued pursuant to the TEC, §45.103; maintenance notes issued pursuant to the TEC, §45.108; and contracts issued pursuant to the TEC, §44.901. The amount of funds is a great deprivation to charter schools, in order for their to be fairness and equitably in comparison to school districts. Alphonso Crutch LSc Charter School is being required to educate our unique population of students for less money than would have been spent on the students at their home schools.

4. The Texas Education Agency is a “tortfeasor”. The agency has behaved in a tortuous manner and has harmed the minority disadvantaged students attending the alternative to alternative school. The agency has created obstacles overcome, which has been unreasonable interference abridging the privileges and breached a duty of care, under the statues, to ensure all students are entitled to an equal educational opportunity. TEA‘s unreasonable interference resulted in denial of educational resources to better the lives of the students and society. The agency’s actions have contributed to the drop-put and incarceration rate in our city. It is a fact, Houston is number 1 in black male violence. Alphonso Crutch LSC Charter School has been a benefit and value to the city, school districts and the community as a whole. The school has a wealth of support letters ranging from congressional representatives, mayor, Texas youth Commission, the community and the state and federal team, to name a few. The school has been handicapped to provide this array of education and social support, since the withholding of funds. Many of the students on probation and parole are currently in the process of revocation, due to non-attendance. I have written letters and spoke with many representatives, explaining the litigation and to please work with the students, due to this critical dilemma.

This crisis has had an adverse affect on the majority of the students and the purpose of why and how they ended up at the school. The students, staff, contractors, vendors, parents, administration, and the community have felt the impact of the school’s financial crisis. The school was considered by TEA representatives as one of the most thorough schools and was considered in the top five schools. The school is currently operating and has its charter in place. The school is generating funds for the students and the educational operations, but the funds are being withheld for the alleged debt owed to the agency. The school has monthly operational expenses, as all other educational facilities, that must be paid, but have not since the withholding of funds. The funds are being applied to the alleged debt, but none of the funds are being use for the proper purpose, to educate the students. The school has requested numerous times for a payment plan, until the matter was resolved, to properly prepare the students to complete their course studies and to properly prepare them for the TAKS, the mandatory standardize test, but the school has met with total resistance from the agency. TEA‘s manner of withholding has been a tactic to take away the contract away from the school. The withholdings has had an adverse affect on the school and the required payments to Texas Workforce Commission, Teacher Retirement, Internal Revenue Service, preservation of the educational facility, insurance, teachers and academic standards and results, employee wages, deprived the ability to defend against the legal challenges and the overall standard of care for the minority disadvantaged students. TEA started applying monies dedicated to us from programs such as the Texas Foundation School Program before we even knew what they were being withheld for.

And they continued to withhold them in a manner that prevented us from having a due process hearing. First, I have to note that they started to withhold money for the month of February 2008. The school’s CFO reviewed the Tea finance website for the monthly allotment. The actual calculated allotments appear on the website during the week before the 25th, which is the date the funds are administered each month. TEA did not agree to provide the school with a hearing of any kind until April. They paid us for April and May of 2008 but did not pay us for January, February of March of 2008, nor did they pay us for the summer of 2008. They did not pay us for the complete school year just ended. The hearing they provided did not provide us with due process. By withholding our money for the number of months before the hearing they prevented us from being able to adequately fund experts, etc. that were needed for the hearing. The hearing that took place was untimely. Further, the hearing was presided over initially by an individual, Adrain Johnson, who had indicated that the school should shut down. He was clearly biased against the school. The legal person directing him at the hearing (and apparently between meetings) was Jim Thompson. Mr. Thompson is a white male who was the subject of a discrimination complaint that we filed with the Texas Education Agency. Not only was the hearing untimely, especially because of the financial condition of the school at the time it was held, but it was substantively and procedurally unfair. I requested documents on the record while Adrain Johnson was presiding over the hearing. Most of those documents we never received. Further, our attorneys requested documents verbally and in writing and many of those documents were not received either. One of the categories of documents we had requested was information about how somewhat similar situations were handled regarding other schools. Another was handwritten documents from Nora Rainey. She was responsible for calculating payments due to Alphonso Crutch. TEA claimed that because of the court order requiring that the school be paid and limiting any withholding that would take place, which they had to calculate the amounts owed to the school by hand. Calculations from a computer were produced but these were not the documents described to me by Nora Rainey. Further, the record review hearing was not completed in the time limitations laid out in the rule itself and this again caused great harm to the school because we were still not receiving any funding. Very limited time was allowed for the hearings and individuals such as Assistant Attorneys General were permitted in the hearings over our objection. When this court took a recess and the parties agreed to confer again they insisted that the discussions be called a Record Review (over our objection).

But whether it was or was not, they again did not comply with the rules for a record review. One thing they did is that before the meeting which was to be presided over by Adrain Johnson the Agency replaced him with another Record Review Presiding officer with no notice to us. We did not know who he was or that he had been appointed until we appeared at the meeting. However, he too was infected with bias for a number of reasons, not the least of which was his indication that he spent a lot of time with Adrain Johnson to get familiar with the proceeding and what the facts were. We were not privy to any of these communications and have no way of knowing how accurate they were. Both presiding officers got specific direction from Jim Thompson.

We had objected to Thompson’s participation. Witnesses from TEA who would be able to testify that the school was eligible for some of the funding that was the subject of the withholding were not able to testify at the hearing. One of our experts had requested information so that he could give a final report to the hearing officer to indicate the amount of money, if any, that the school might have owed to TEA (or vice-versa). However, TEA refused to provide him this information. This was a part of the Record Review Proceeding. Further as part of this proceeding there was a side meeting of TEA’s auditors and Odyssius Lanier, a CPA who has worked for the school. Mr. Lanier is also a major contractor for TEA. He provided detailed information and testified at the hearing that the school did not owe the amount of money that was being withheld. At the meeting with TEA auditors they came up with a recommendation that the no documentation rule be applied and that TEA withhold a maximum of 30% of what was owed to the school. However, at the Record Review hearing the auditors were silent on this but never denied the agreement to the best of my recollection. Mr. Lanier was not supported by the very people who had met with him and reached the agreement. However, it is clear that the Auditors did say that the agreement was subject to approval by others at TEA, and clearly this did not happen. The Hearing officer refused to accept this alternative or to duly consider the information provided to him by Mr. Lanier. Mr. Lanier is a principal in one of the largest minority CPA firms in the United States. They have large contracts with the state and federal governments and have a great reputation. As I know (and Mr. Lanier agreed) the school did not owe the State the amounts being claimed by TEA (or anything close to those amounts).

3. I have encountered experiences with Attorney Jim Thompson, which has confirmed the interaction is personal, retaliation and unwanted harassment throughout the past years. The school has settled matters in many of the sit down meetings with the Administration, but once it is reviewed by the Attorney Jim Thompson, the agreement is disregarded or the outcome has not been what has been discussed between both parties.

4. TEA Attorney Jim Thompson made what I felt to be a discriminatory and derogatory statement to me, concerning the physical appearance of the students, outside the TEA building. I sent correspondence to the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Education, documenting the statement. I was contacted by George Cole in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Education.

5. A meeting was held on April 23. 2003, at Barnes & Turner Law firm, with TEA and Alphonso Crutch, present were TEA Attorney Jim Thompson, Karen Case, Associate Commissioner of Quality, Compliance and Accountability Review, Mr. Marshall (the monitor), Attorney Jermaine Thomas (school counsel), two Board members, the school CPA and myself, the purpose of the meeting was to introduce the monitor to the school. Attorney Thompson stated he saw no purpose for the school.

6. The school was negotiating settlement during the 05-06 School years, after the school prevailed in several cases in State District Court. The school and TEA participated in mediation and an agreement for settlement. The settlement was never finalized after it was presented to the agency Attorney.

7. The school has repeatedly expressed and requested, Attorney Thompson not to participate in any matters concerning Alphonso Crutch LSC Charter School, due to the Civil Rights Complaint and the adversarial interaction which has not been productive in resolving matters of the school. The school has experience disparity of treatment, discrimination, and not provided due process, as has been pointed out and address throughout the past several years.

8. Attorney Thompson has always been involved and the request has been ignored, which has complicated and made the outcomes a lengthy and non-negotiating process. Attorney Thompson stated TEA was ready, willing and able to correct funding errors, in a timely manner.

9. Throughout this lengthy process to resolve the disputes, the school administration, the Attorneys, the Certified Public Accountant and the Independent Consultant have never been provided the requested required documents for review. Mr. Bassie reviewed the documents provided by TEA, which were the documents from the TEA website. He needed the working papers, the breakdown of how the calculations were computed. The adjustments needed to be accompanied with the correspondence and the specific calculations, to allow the Accountant the ability to verify, support or challenge the adjustment amounts. The Independent Consultant, and the Certified Public Accountant for the school express the need for the documents, evidence has been produced that has verified the TEA audits are deficient and do not comply with the Accounting Principles. Although Attorney Thompson stated they are willing and ready to correct funding errors in a timely manner, these requests have been ignored and the needed documents have not been presented to the requesting parties.

10. The Record Review proceeding, were untimely in nature. The scheduled dates were continuously introduced, changed and it was havoc to have a uniform agreed date and time. The dates were presented, as requested, the professionals and experts cleared and re-arranged their schedules numerous times, to accommodate the dates and times. The dates were continually changing and last minute schedules were provided and forced the parties to make sudden quick changes in their schedules, to ensure they were in attendance. The school was not allowed any funding during this process, which has been a major crisis, while trying to continue to function on a daily basis. The students need meals, supplies, transportation and many resources. The school was totally deprived during this process. The scheduled time was limited, meaning, the meetings were not long enough to properly produce, review and dispute evidence and documents, by both sides, during the process. The documents requested for charter schools and school districts that have had the same alleged allegations, to be presented for review, to review the resolutions. These documents were never provided after numerous requests. The problem over the years, has been, in my opinion, the funds are withheld without the right to contest ahead of time on the matter of settle-up and the opportunity to provide an offer or negotiating component, of apportioning the amounts withheld, is absent from this process.

11. The law as interpreted by Mr. Thompson makes it easy for the Agency to prevail in hearings and shut down charter facilities. They attempted to shut us down previously and even dropped a case a couple of years ago regarding the renewal of our charter that was before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The Agency’s interpretation of the law relating to withholding money from those suspected of being overpaid is fallacious and prevents litigants from having due process of law. The record review provisions are designed to limit any process that is accorded litigants and in fact from what I observed with our hearing is applied in a manner to completely deny one due process. The facts suggest that they believe that if they hear you, even with no intention of acting appropriately, that they have provided one all of the due process that is due under the law. As a School Administrator I have to be very familiar with due process of law. The bias shown includes but is not limited to: (a) the refusal of the agency to appropriately regulate the auditors/investigators attempts to make the school repay funds, which have never been received; and (b) the rejection of Mr. Lanier’s final resolution. Dr. Johnson was over the Records Review when he had prejudged the school should consider closure. Attorney Thompson has been allowed to have a major influence in the review matter. How can any proceeding with the history of these individuals be fair to us? I don’t think there is any way.

12. The Records show a connection between Dr. Adrain Johnson and action taken and unfortunately it tainted everything that happened during the process. Dr. Johnson headed the Records Review, which was in collaboration of receiving correspondence signed by him, stating the school should consider closing. I was taken aback from the correspondence. Dr, Johnson was aware of the repeated request for documentation to support the alleged debts. He was also aware of the history of the school and had participated in several meetings, where the evidence was in favor of the school. The Independent Consultant discussed all of the facts surrounding his audit, the deficiencies and the fact the process was not followed as with all of his audits performed in the past, with other school districts. He expressed he tried to schedule the required meeting, after his report was sent, without an explanation from the agency, was never scheduled. The final report was generated, absent the meeting to review his facts and discussed the facts and findings. He expressed the history of the agency’s interaction to be “personal” in nature and how it was a tactic to bankrupt the school, to force it to close. He expressed to Dr. Johnson the integrity issues he felt were an important factor and discussed in detail with Dr. Johnson the facts. Dr. Johnson stated based on Mr. Lanier’s information, his role is a very important part of the process, acknowledging his familiarity of his credentials, when Mr. Lanier had obtained his contract with the agency. The agency needed to allow Mr. Lanier to sit down with the auditors.

The school and TEA representatives agreed to Dr. Johnson’s suggestion. Mr. Lanier and the TEA auditors of the outcome of the meeting did not coincide. Mr. Lanier stated he agreed to a 70/30. The school receives 70% and the agency accepts 30% of the allocated funds for the audited school year. The auditors stated there was not an agreement. Dr. Johnson’s connection throughout this process with the letter, suggesting the school to close and to be the decision maker in the outcome of the school’s fate tainted everything that happened in the process.

13. The school and the agency had been in on-going communication to schedule dates and times for the meeting, during this time, the school was never informed or formally notified Dr. Glynn would be taking over the Record Review. The school was introduced to Dr Glynn at the scheduled time of the Record Review on November 25, 2008. Dr. Glynn wanted the report from Mr. Bassie by the close of business on December 15, 2008, absent the delivery of the requested calculations and other important documents, pertaining to challenging the alleged allegations, which were vital to properly respond to the false allegations and the testimonies during this process. I provided a copy of the letter from Daystar Education Service, the previous PEIMS Software Consultant from Whitesboro, Texas, to verify the inaccuracy of calculations in the past on attendance from TEA. (See Attachment). The school was to receive those funds, as agreed by Commissioner Scott in the School Year 2005-2006, with the School Attorney’s, but the funds were never released. Alphonso Crutch LSC Charter School has tried to resolve the matter, but it has been to no avail. A third party must be involved for the process to be unbiased. The school has respected independent professionals, which TEA has contracted to perform services for the agency, but in the school matters, he report was not honored. I pray to God for the sake of the children, this matter can be resolved, to ensure the students a right to an equal educational opportunity. The school currently does not have telephone and internet services, which has been a great hardship. The schools, outside agencies (probation, parole, courts, MHMRA, CPS, etc.,), have not been able to communicate or transfer documents or school record, nor contact the school to communicate during this time. The communication has been by walk-ins, and mail. The communication from the school has been by private cell phones. I pray this information provided; will be considered in the final decision of the fate of our students, who do not have another school to attend.

14. I want to stress the time frame in Judge Livingston’s order was based on our having a trial within the months following the hearing, but because of the appeal this has never happened. The case has been argued before the Court of Appeals but no ruling has come down (it was argued around 2006 if I recall correctly). I want to express the actions of the agency is a blatant disregard to the students and parents, human and civil rights, school choice and a right to an equal educational opportunity. I want to express based on the agency's information, the students are the most disparate in the state, but are being denied resources, food, transportation and educational services, to allow the student an equal playing field with the other students in the state. As Representative Sylvester Turner had indicated, the appropriate thing to do is to work on recouping amounts with a school that was overpaid in a manner so that the school will not be required to be shut down. By refusing to engage in such an arrangement and claiming the law does not provide this, they are achieving their fait accompli. By fact of their actions the school will necessarily close. Lost in this process of the belief that there is something wrong with the school is the recognition that there are students, staff and parents who are greatly harmed by such an action. This court must tell the State that the Constitution does not allow them to do what they are attempting to do here, their actions are against basic humanity and human dignity and remind me of the kinds of things that Southern officials did during the Civil Rights movement to deny rights to children of color.

One must ask if TEA would have done this to a predominately white charter school who had staff with children in college, mortgages and car notes and students who needed to find transportation to school that had been failed by their local school districts. The state acts immediately, absent due process to collect alleged funds owed to the agency, but will never properly evaluate funds owed to the school and administer appropriately. Time is definitely not a factor during the process. The students under court supervisory orders are being violated, due to non-attendance. They are economically disadvantaged and are unable to pay the bus fare. The probation office stated they are allowed to provide the student a $2.00 bus fee for the week, but the paper work is extensive, so the students have not been provided the fee. The fee from the probation office, will only provide the fare to school for one day, it does not cover the return fare home. If the student's live in Humble, the fare is $3.00, one way to school. The students who are diagnosed as mentally retarded and/or emotionally disturbed, are unable to receive the required services and parents, the monitors and I have contacted and expressed our concerns to the agency and made them aware of the crisis. They informed the parents they have alternatives and the parents have explained and expressed, they do not. During my NCLB visit this past week, the parent, Devote, who wrote the affidavit, expressed her major concerns, her children's education and the parents right to school choice and provided specific details and reasons the agency needed to be aware of the purpose the school serves in her children's lives. TEA stated they know this is a problem, but they have been advised to tell parents, to call the parent complaint line. She detailed the services the school had provided for her niece, who have suffered severe disabilities from the crisis of being shot in the head. MHMRA has collaboratively worked with the school with the required, identified, rehabilitation at for many of the students. Child Protective Services and many other agencies visit the students during the day, the children are mobile and they have not been able to meet with the students. The school has been a stable point in most of the children who have been mobile. The children who move all of the time due to financial and family crisis

15. TEA alleged in a preliminary report dated October 27, 2007, alleging the school owed funds, stating the District Summary Report, the Attendance Report, is less than the Summer Submission.

The District Summary Report is the actual attendance being reported every six weeks to the agency; the school was reporting the attendance, although the funds were being withheld to the school. TEA was in violation of the Public Information Act, the school nor was the public provided the amount of neither monthly nor annual funds that were expected or were paid to the school. Nora stated they had to manually calculate the funding due to the court order. Leo provided the first breakdown of the funds, upon the Superintendent’s request. The request to review the monthly calculations were ignored and never provided by Nora. The Summer Submission was sent to be in compliance with the deadline to re-submit the data, due to lack of staff and financial hardship. The school Summer Submission was pending after the original date sent of June 22, , followed by several approved re-submission dates, until August 31, which means the submission was in pending status for June, July, August, September and October. At the start of school the submission was still in pending status, which the procedures, as explained by Nora Rainey, in Formula Funding, if the school does not send in an estimate, the school will be paid on an average of the total six weeks attendance reports divided by six, the number of reporting periods, which means the school was not paid on the Summer Submission numbers. The month of October and November is the actual attendance reporting, the school reports, to be paid through the system. This means addressing numbers and funds for the summer submission is not relevant, because it would not be paid in a pending status. I addressed this question to Nora, if the school has approved re-submission dates; it means the data is pending. There are expected dates to resubmit, which means the information submitted, is not final. She responded it is in pending status, which cannot generate funding.

The staff and contractors, who are responsible for this area of reporting to the school, could no longer afford to work, the PEIMS software Consultant agreed to submit the Summer Submission. He demanded funds in order to submit. The school contacted the agency and requested funds to pay the necessary debts for mandatory school operations. The PEIMS Software Consultant stated he would send data, which is normal for all schools, and will review and check all information at the time of re-submission. Due to no funds received, he did not re-submit after August 31. The school does not owe funds for information in a pended status. The information discussed is the explanation why the number reported in the district summary was less than the Summer Submission. The school was paid on the actual attendance reported during the school year.

During the beginning of 2007-2008 school years the school was still utilizing the Eclipse PEIMS Software. The Consultant, after hiring a Computer Security Specialist with X-Systems, had provided the school skeletal software. Meaning the school could input the data of the school, the basics; it could not generate the necessary reports to generate attendance reports. The conversion process had not been performed on the software, which calculates the data in numbers and statistics needed by the agency. I reported this dilemma to my State Campus Intervention Team, Ms. Patterson and Ms. Key and alerted them of my problem. X-System began working with the Eclipse Software Consultant and the proper process began on the proper installation of the software to prepare the school to submit reports. The School began researching new software and determined RSCCC software with Region 4 Education Services would be the best PEIMS data reporting software to obtain. The school began the transition. X-Systems contacted Region 4 John Syers, a conference was scheduled and the process began around the month of November. During this time, the data was transmitted to the new software and training of the required staff began, unfortunately, the school is still confronted with back debts, which have never been settled and it constantly interferes with moving forward in our current school year. The school was scheduled to pay the debt for the new software, which postponed continuous training to successfully complete the transition. The school submitted the first and second six weeks attendance reporting using the Eclipse software, after many checks and balances. The Texas Education Agency Attendance reporting screen accepted the second six weeks submission, but there was a defect on the first six weeks report. The school contacted the agency and after several attempts to submit, was notified it was an internal technical error problem within the agency. The e-mails stated they would have their technicians repair the problem and notify the school, when the repairs were completed. The school was contacted and notified by telephone it was scheduled for a Federal visit.

The school was focusing on meeting the State and Federal Representatives requirements, and preparing for the Federal visit. After a successful Federal visit, the school again attempted to resubmit the first reporting of attendance and the system again was flawed. The school contacted the agency through e-mail and telephone conversations, with the outcome of finally completed the submission with the assistance of the technician on February 21, 2008. The school successfully submitted the third attendance report; the school had informed the agency of the software transition, which during the transmission of the data to the new software, all of the needed data does not transmit. Many important factors of the data must be inputted manually, for example, student details, courses, grades, etc. The school had spoke with the agency during the crisis with the first attendance report, but the contact person, Nora Rainey did not express the school must submit the third submission at the time of the conversation. I asked her what was needed to ensure the school received the Foundation School Program funds. The agency would not take into consideration the tasks of the transition of software and the checks and balance of the accuracy of the data, which is a voluminous task, consisting of all of the data of the school. To ensure an accurate report. The school CPA checked the Finance website of the agency around February 20, 2008 to discover the school was reported as no funds to be administered for the month of February, which is released to the school’s bank account on the 25th of each month. The Ledger screen had a balance of zero, with no adjustments amounts. I telephoned the Attorney’s to contact the agency to explore the reason for the school zero amount with no adjustments noted, no prior form of notification of this adjustment and to find out how the matter could be resolved. Ms. Dumfisher stated the school would not receive any revenue, for February until the March date of the 25th of the month. I expressed the financial crisis of the school, the staff needed to pay their monthly expenses and the school operation. It was to no avail.

The Associate Commissioner, Dr. Johnson intervened and tried to provide assistance in resolving the matter with the agency. The school received an average of $2500.00 in March for the month of February, which was never posted on the Finance website and was informed on the agency’s Finance website it would receive an average of $2900.00 for the month of March. The school operations are unable to operate on this amount of funding. The school was responsible for administering the TAKS tests, transporting and feeding students, paying the staff to meet the educational and social support needs of the students, paying the facility rent and utilities, along with supplies and other educational needs with this amount of funds. During the fourth six weeks attendance submission, using the new RSCCC software and the assistance of the Region 4 Representative John Syer, the school again, encountered an internal technical problem with the agency’s reporting screen. Again the process of contacting the agency through e-mails and the Computer Security Expert from X-Systems contacted the agency and contact was made by the technician, who assisted the school with the repairs and the process of submission of the data. At the present time, the school is still awaiting a response for the needed funds to pay the school debt to continue to operate for the school year.

The school has been corresponding back and forth with TEA, concerning the finances, the review of documents to substantiate the findings of the settle-up and the recalculations of the settle-up, due to data of the staff not being calculated to calculate financial totals, a repayment plan until the numbers were verified, funds to be provided to the school to continue the school operation, and requested due process during this process. Again, TEA has withheld the funds, as in the school year 2005-2006, and not allowed the school the proper due process, to resolve the matter properly. The school continually tries to resolve the financial issues with the agency, and through the courts, to no avail. It is very difficult to operate, without any financial revenue provided to the school.

The School was reporting student attendance, during the school year, through the six weeks attendance report on the agency’s website. The school was funding from the Foundation School Program and financial adjustments were made, based on student attendance, during each six weeks report in the Foundation School Program Reporting System. The school had lost several critical faculty and contracted staff, several in the reporting of the school data. The attendance records were updated in the system but the final six weeks attendance submission was not reported. Routine procedures for the agency, is if the attendance report is late, the school is paid on the last attendance report the school filed. The school was paid on the six weeks submission based on the fifth six weeks report. The students last day of attendance was the twenty-fifth of May. The Peims Software Consultant, filed the Summer Submission on the twenty-second of June to meet the deadline date and to be provided a resubmission date, which is a normal procedure for the agency, to complete the reporting of the data and check for all errors. The school continued to experience financial hardship, due to the agency non-payment of funds. The school requested and was approved several re-submission dates, due to the financial hardship and lack of personnel.

This meant the Summer submission data was pending until the final was re-submitted. The school requested a final re-submission date approved, for the thirty-first of August, which is outside of the reporting parameters, due to the financial hardship. The re-submission, which would have been the final data, was not submitted. The school was never paid on the Summer submission data, due to the pending status for resubmission, which means the discrepancy in the actual data reported in the District Summary, during the school year was correct and the Summer submission, which the Consultant filed for a resubmission date, was never applied in a financial manner to the school. At the beginning of the school year, the school is paid by the total of six weeks submissions, divided by six, which is the number of reporting cycles, and paid on the average calculated. If the school does not send in an estimated number, the school will be paid on the calculated average. The school Summer submission was still in pending status. The school did not receive revenue, until the month of November, which is the actual number reported in the school student reporting system, the school had the finances manually calculated by the agency due to the litigation and a court order of funds agreed to provide the agency up to $50,000.00 a month until the Administrative hearing, or expiration of the court order. I., Vida Belford, Superintendent, telephoned the agency for verification of the schools calculated funding and the breakdown of the court order. Leo provided the breakdown on the 28th of November, verifying school revenue and the calculations of the court order deduction. Charter Schools are not tax based; therefore ACLSC is paid a different dollar amount based on the school district, because of the amount of tax dollars received into the district. The reports and investigations did not provide the breakdown, providing these critical components.

The school requested all documents for review, the lack of funds, and funds being withheld without allowing constitution rights of due process. The school was addressed for settle-up, which means to settle-up all finances, unfortunately, the school was not granted the opportunity, and Al Johnston from TEA stated the school was owed funds because the staff data was not calculated. The data was in the PEIMS, but not in the Foundation School Program. The staff reported in PEIMS, would mean the school was owed and estimate of $40,000 to $45,000.00, which means the estimate of settlement is definitely incorrect. The school is paid different dollar amounts per school districts, which means all of the calculations need to be reviewed. The school was not provided the necessary documents, although the agency collected the debt, with these important relevant factors not being addressed.

17. How Texas Foundation School and other monies owing to the school work and that they should be dedicated to the education of the students at the school and not willy-nilly withheld to take care of some obligation (especially if this will cause the school to shut down, and especially if this means that the school cannot repay any money that is owed)?

Vida Belford

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