in Houston, Texas
Houston ISD investigation into missing documents 2 months overdue
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012, 04:05PM CST
By Mike Cronin
clock

Findings from an investigation into how documents went missing during an audit of the ways Houston public schools do business are more than two months late – and officials have yet to explain why.

“It’s ridiculous that we don’t have an answer to this question,” said Juliet Stipeche, the Houston Independent School District trustee who called for the investigation in March.

HISD Inspector General Robert Moore told the district board audit committee on April 19 that “we expect to make a final determination within a week” on the missing documents.

But Moore told the audit committee on May 24 that his staff still had not completed the investigation due to an illness suffered by a family member of an HISD employee.

Stipeche, who chairs the audit committee, said Moore told her on Wednesday that the report would be available at the next audit committee meeting on July 12.

Moore did not return a phone call and an e-mail requesting comment.

Juliet StipecheJuliet Stipeche

“I was willing to give (HISD staff) the benefit of the doubt due to the family crisis that occurred to the person spearheading the investigation,” said Stipeche, a Houston lawyer. “But I’m not going to wait any longer for the response. We need it now. We needed it yesterday.”

School board President Mike Lunceford, who served on the audit committee for two years before stepping down to head the trustees in January, said “it’s a valid question” to ask about the delay of the investigation.

“We haven’t seen anything,” said Lunceford, who added that he planned to send Moore an e-mail asking him about the investigation’s status. “They’ve been sitting on this a long time.”

One HISD mother said district officials needed to make finishing the investigation a priority -- particularly as they consider whether to put a $1.9 billion construction bond referendum on the November ballot.

“HISD needs to get its house in order and figure out who’s making decisions on spending dollars on contracts and tracking documents,” said Peggy Sue Gay, 52, a mother of two sons educated in HISD's gifted program and a member of the district's Gifted and Talented Parent Advisory Committee.

“If they can’t even do an internal investigation, then it might be a good idea to close these open issues before presenting their constituency a vote on a $1.9 billion bond.”

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of clock by flickr user ell brown, used via a Creative Commons license.

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