in Houston, Texas
Elgin Middle School students' fundraising cash spent on donuts, cookout for staff
Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012, 10:35AM CST
By Steve Miller

The kiddies on your porch hawking Milk Duds and People magazine for school amenities, and we’re thinking pencils and paper, might actually be shilling for the school’s administration.

At least that’s the story at Elgin Middle School, near Austin, where a local television station uncovered the money going into a fund that, among other things, was spent on donuts and breakfast tacos for the principal and staffers.

The station used public records to discover a dubiously titled fund, the “MS Miscellaneous Account,” which is supplied by multiple sources, including “concession-stand revenue, campus fundraisers and from students going door-to-door,” according to the report by NBC affiliate, KXAN.

The investigation found that Middle School Principal Riza Cooper spent more than $10,000 on food for staff, including a check for “lounge supplies” that paid for charcoal, lighter fluid, and 10 pounds of hamburger and hot dogs.

The district is unrepentant - some might say even arrogant - and defended Cooper, who did not speak to KXAN. The district’s superintendent of business, Kreis Alyea, told the station that the expenditures were “fair, right legal, all those things. I was told by a lawyer many years ago, you know, fairness has no place in the legal system. If it's legal, it’s legal."

Cooper’s state teaching certificate shows that she is a math teacher who has been in the Texas system since 2000.

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

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Photo of doughnut by flickr user sea turtle, used via a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, 02/29/2012 - 03:10PM


this is the sort of thing that continues to give HISD a black eye and over shadows the good stuff going on - lets face it, controversy sells...

Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 05:46AM

I am a teacher in Texas. I've worked in three different districts. All three have fed their teachers. This is with money from the activity account (legally, you are allowed to spend 20% of these funds on teachers!l). I applaud any principal who cares enough about the teachers to do this! And guess what...most of them do. There is NO story here. KXaN ran this story with MO facts.

Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 12:45PM

This is not in HISD unless the district has moved to Austin.

Yolanda Ramirez
Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 06:01PM

mrs:cooper thts messed up we raised tht money to get more text books and computers because they are all crappy! oh and know all the kids at elgin middle school hate u for doing that!!!

and this came from a real student from elgin middle school and i dont care if she see's this!

Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 06:36PM

hey i am a current elgin student and this is a wrong thing to do. yeah ms.cooper took money from the funds that the students earned for the school district; some may call this arrogant, and others may say it's just a way of showing gratitude to the staff. it is stated that using money that goes to the teacher is legal, which it is; but i belive that its to an extent. yeah maybe the maximum 1000 dollars invested into teacher's for food would be reasonable, teachers are paid to do their job and not expect nothing more but their pay check !!. ms cooper was just trying to show her appriciation towards them, but 10,000 is way to much money to be spent on just food that goes just to the staff. our staff makes a profit by charging the students 1 dollar for each day that we do not wear our id and 5 to get a new one thus pushing students to be more responsible, there are also funraisers that we have to do to help our school and for this to be spent on food , which is not as important as education its just selfish and wrong. most of our textbooks are old, ripped up, and have been around most likely since our own teachers were in that school, the money students raise should be use to their benifit and educational purposes. and about the donut situation it wasnt all just for the staff, students will be rewarded every 6 weeks for perfect attendence a donut... now about the hot dogs and burgers that was just to the teachers benifit i dont belive that teachers shuould get a higher privlages than students, but it really is a silly reason to get a worked up about since our priciple has done nothing iligal... it may be wrong and arrogant in a way but what the school chooses to do with the money is their responsiblity they should just make sure evrything is in order and balance things out and spend the money on whats really important and once that is out of the way, use what money is left over to reward both teachers and students for doing a good job and working hard.. >_< but seriously leave out ghetto school alone. (:

Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 09:26PM

Yes, its cool to treat your teachers or staff to a good meal and be thankful for the people you have helping you of course, do not USE OUR CHILDREN to make money for you to splurge on your selfs. Now My two sons go to Elgin middle school, and they get into more trouble over nothing, shirt 3 inches to long, paper airplanes and stupid name tags, we live in the country, They can not be that dumb to not know who their students are. and then want to charge them for not wearing a name tag. My kids WILL get their moneys worth. GET BACK TO TEACHING.....

Wildcat MOM
Thursday, 03/01/2012 - 09:35PM

That is so nice of Mrs. Pooper, I'm sure she had toilet paper on the receipt as well, Either way she should not use our kids to make money for their personal use, and the rules are so terrible that no wonder the school is under performing, the teachers get rewarded even if their student fail.

Friday, 03/02/2012 - 12:33PM

I've just identified ONE misuse of taxpayer dollars - the salary for this scholll district employee:

"The district’s superintendent of business, Kreis Alyea, told the station that the expenditures were “fair, right legal, all those things. I was told by a lawyer many years ago, you know, fairness has no place in the legal system. If it's legal, it’s legal.""

Tuesday, 03/06/2012 - 12:07PM


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