Thursday, September 10, 2009

Help Defend the Poor Children of Houston against the Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency has unleashed a nine year blistering attack against a Houston area charter school that caters to at risk inner city youth. Unable to revoke the Alphonso Crutch Charter School's charter in 2002, the agency has done everything to destroy the school and its founder Vida Belford. The school once had three campuses and nearly 1,700 students. Nearly 70% of the students were there because no other school in 18 area school districts would accept them. Crutch is the alternative school of alternative schools. Like many charter schools in Texas, Alphonso Crutch had its issues, but nothing that couldn't have been remedied. Unfortunately, This has become a personal matter and here is who is behind it.

The only attorney in TEA history to lose a charter revocation case is Jim Thompson. He has never gotten over it. He told me to my face in front of witnesses on April, 2003: "I see no purpose for this school." He has been on a mission to use any administrative means at his disposal to accomplish what he failed to do in a fair and open hearing before an independent third party.
The fact is, not only has Alphonso Crutch defeated Jim Thompson in administrative revocation hearings and the subsequent appeals by TEA, but also in three state district courts and the Texas Court of Appeals. Attorney Jim Thompson and TEA refuse to obey the ruling of their own administrative law judges, Republican and Democratic judges and an unanimous panel of appellate judges. This agency is out of control and nobody, I mean nobody can put them in check.

Unfortunately, the Texas Attorney General's office is joined at the hip with TEA and cannot be objective enough to show TEA the unconstitutionality and illegality of its behavior in this case. Instead of defending due process and equal education rights of poor children, the Texas Attorney General has sided with this out of control state agency. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott can't possibly know what his lawyers are really doing in this case. We can't imagine him allowing the power of his office to be used against poor children of color in the state of Texas. We know he wouldn't allow himself to be used like he was in the Kidcare case 7 years ago.

If you want to know how dirty this has gotten check this out. TEA has withheld 100% of the school's state funding over the past 2 years. Alphonso Crutch survived because of the Federal Title 1 funding available because of the poverty of its student population. In 2007, TEA pre-approved a $44,000 draw for the school only to demand it be repaid soon thereafter.

TEA admits its was their mistake, knowing fully well in advance that federal money can only be paid back out of private or state funds. Now mind you, TEA has withheld nearly $1.7 million dollars in state funds illegally according to three district and an appellate court, yet they refuse to even partially fund this school that still is educating our most vulnerable children. Meanwhile, because of a $44,000 mistake in approving federal funds, TEA has blocked $1.5 million in federal funds Crutch qualifies for from coming to the school. If we can't call it a conspiracy, you can't call it a misunderstanding. What we have here is arrogance, corruption and an abuse of power. TEA is so bold, they even lie to the President Obama's Department of Education, knowing their is no independently sourced documentation that exists to back up their assertions against the school. The joke on the streets is: How do you know when TEA is lying about Alphonso Crutch? Answer: Are their lips moving?

I know any reasonable persons will find all of this hard to believe - but documentation beats conversation any day. I, Robert Muhammad, as Chairman of the Alphonso Crutch Charter School, pledge to allow any credible media, education or child advocacy organization come and review our records, as long as the privacy of the students and staff is not put in jeopardy. Who will take me up on this offer?

Here is what you can do to help: Call and email the TEA attorney listed below. Let him know that you are outraged and demand that the school be given a reasonable settlement so that it can continue educating the most needy children in our area.
(512) 463-9037

1 comment:

  1. Thought provoking...thinking aloud would definitely help you get better solutions.