in Houston, Texas
Today's featured video: State approved crummy charter schools despite red flags; schools misspent $13M in state funds
Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011, 01:15PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles

Let's agree on a couple of things, shall we? No. 1, if you can't spell the word "principal" -- as in, "school principal" -- then you probably shouldn't be a school principal.  And No. 2, when a public officials says they didn't do something, even though a reporter has tape of them doing it, "I'm not going there" is not much of a comeback. 

"There" is the question from KHOU-TV in Houston about why she pushed the state Board of Education to give its blessing in 1998 to all 109 applications for charter schools -- even though a former state official now says there were screaming neon pink flags being raised that the applicants shouldn't be running schools. One of those flags: Not being able to spell the word "principal." 

The report by KHOU-Channel 11's Jeremy Rogalski on Texas' charter school class of '98 is today's featured video on the Texas Watchdog home page.

Of the schools in the bottom half of that group of 109 applicants, a third of them got an "unacceptable" rating from the state at least once, and collectively, they misspent $13 million in state tax money, Rogalski says.

State Rep. Scott Hochberg, a Houston Democrat who has been a critic of the process, said it was irresponsible to have given all the schools charters. 

His colleague in the House, state Rep. Alma Allen, told Rogalski she did not lead the charge to get all 109 of the schools' charters approved. That's kind of funny, because Rogalski has an audio recording of her specifically saying that all 109 of the schools' charters should be approved. When Rogalski presses her on it, her response is that she's not going there. Why not? She's not going there. 

As for the millions in misspent money that is due back to the state, Allen says, the state won't get it back: "It happens." 

Spot a good video on watchdog journalism, Texas government or politics, or government transparency or accountability? Let us know. Texas Watchdog is looking for good videos to feature on its home page. Drop a line to 

Photo of button by flickr user kaylakro, used under a Creative Commons license. Photo illustration by Jennifer Peebles/Texas Watchdog.

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