By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Houston ISD is investigating more than 70 cases of falsified records in which students were recorded as transfers when they were actually dropouts, Superintendent Terry Grier tells Hair Balls. "It appears as if some folks were involved in fabricating requests for student records," he said.
The district has already verified many of the cases and is focusing its attention on two district employees who are associated with Kashmere High School and Key Middle School, Grier said. Yes, the same two schools that multitasked bad behavior to entirely new levels just keep on giving the administration fits.
Here's how it worked, according to Grier, adopting the persona of an employee after a student didn't show up at school for several weeks:
"I knew you had dropped out, I knew that. But versus going to get you and trying to get you back in school, I fabricated a letter saying, 'Please send me a copy of [the student's] records.' Then I would take that record I had fabricated, drop it in your file and didn't have to count you as a dropout."
Instead, Grier said, the student would go down as a "transfer" out of HISD.
"And we actually have evidence of where people went in and it appears they cut and pasted copies of that logo from another school, put it on that letterhead and we are investigating that right now," he says. "We have found over 70 of those situations and we are now verifying from different schools around the country that in fact that is not your logo and that in fact this is not [an official from another school's] signature requesting this, and that will have a dramatic effect on a school's dropout rate."
Grier said it appeared the situation was "ongoing."
"Right now it's those two schools; that's the only evidence we had," he said. "We have verified a number, but we haven't verified them all. We've got to verify all of them to make sure the dropout information is correct."
DOING IT DAILY
There is a ton of new stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you're only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. We break news, we cover sports, analyze the hot TV shows and dig up the things that make Houston and Texas unique. Head to http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs and under "Tools" on the top-right side of the page, use the "categories" drop-down menu to find these stories:
What if Butler's almost-buzzer-beater had gone in? We looked at how lives and legacies would have changed. We offered a (pessimistic, unfortunately) look at the Astros' prospects and examined the five weirdest Astro videos on the net. We also met up with the Aeros' enforcer who's a softhearted humanitarian off the ice.
Besides breaking the dropout story above, we had the details on HISD's budget crunch and pending layoffs, the Galveston school district's efforts to persuade voters to build a $35 million stadium even as they still struggle with Ike, and how some Houston board trustees are hoping to save the troubled CEP alternative-ed school.
POP ROCKS, TELEVISION & WHATEVER
Our pop culture guru urged you to watch the surprisingly good Supernatural, we traveled to Beaumont (of all places) to hear NPR's Sarah Vowell disparage the locals, we had the world's whitest guy explain to Jay-Z why the "Granite State of Mind" is better than the original. And we continued to despair at the quality of the American Idol contestants.
COURTS, POLITICAL ANIMALS
A group of Houston pastors warned us all of the transvestites who would be invading women's restrooms thanks to Annise Parker; an item on an Aggie dermatologist bragging of laying off an "Obama-voting" employee sparked hundreds of comments; a former judge pleaded guilty to keying a neighbor's car; and we offered our thoughts on what a jury of Billy Joe Shaver's peers should consist of.