in Houston, Texas
Project GRAD program --- where HISD administrator moonlights as executive director --- gets funding boost from HISD
Friday, Aug 13, 2010, 03:09PM CST
By Lynn Walsh


Another high school in the Houston Independent School District will receive funding for a program to increase graduation rates after trustees approved more than $59,000 for the new program at a Thursday meeting.

Phillis Wheatley High School in northeast Houston will add Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) Houston to its campus. According to the Project GRAD Houston website, the nonprofit is part of a national program that works to increase high school graduation and college attendance rates for low-income students. The national program grew “from a scholarship program which began in partnership with (the) Houston Independent School District in 1989."

HISD trustees unanimously approved the $59,221 cost associated with the program for Wheatley bringing the total cost of Project GRAD Houston’s contract with the district to $1.9 million for the 2010-11 school year.

In June HISD trustees approved a renewal of the contract between the Houston district and Project GRAD Houston. The agreement for the coming school year includes work at three high schools -- Jefferson Davis, John Reagan and Jack Yates -- and five elementary schools, Thomas Jefferson, James Ketelsen, Adele Looscan, Clemente Martinez and Sidney Sherman.
graduation caps

Texas Watchdog reported earlier that HISD administrator Ann Stiles had been working full-time for HISD’s Project GRAD program. She earned more than $67,000 a year from HISD while also serving as the executive director for the nonprofit, earning $120,201 in 2008, according to IRS documents. The total paycheck for the two jobs comes to more than $187,000 annually.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier revealed Stiles’ moonlighting Monday to trustees and the public at a board meeting.

“I want to bring it to the board’s attention as it is probably an ethical issue that should be discussed,” Grier, who took over as the school system chief last September, told the group. He didn’t elaborate.

Stiles’ letter of resignation from HISD is dated Aug. 2. The reason for the resignation, according to the document, is “other employment.” Stiles did not return a call left Wednesday at Project GRAD’s office.

“There does not appear to be a violation of any policy,” and the district knew about her moonlighting, HISD spokesman Norm Uhl said by e-mail. “I just don’t think the question of the possible appearance of a conflict had been asked until now.”

Contact Lynn Walsh at at 713-228-2850 or Follow news about the Houston Independent School District on Twitter, #HISD.

Photo of graduates by flickr user J Maz Photo, used via a Creative Commons license.


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