HISD Explores its Alternatives With CEP

Next week's Houston Independent School District Board meeting coincides with its self-imposed January 15 deadline for whether it will continue to fork over $17 million a year to the private Community Education Partners for its two alternative schools here.

CEP and HISD agreed to a contract extension last August 15 (the first deadline). At issue: the cost of the program, as well as a groundswell of criticism that the facilities don't do a good job of teaching anything and are warehouses for unwanted black and brown kids in the district.

One person who's been in CEP facilities in recent months says there's been a flurry of housecleaning going on, as bad and unqualified teachers have been dumped right and left. Teachers who were prone to screaming at students have been told to tone down their acts, or leave, this Friend of the Press told us.

Hedging its bets, CEP has been housing a charter school at one campus in recent months. So there will be some cash inflow just in case to pay bills.

And meanwhile, depositions continue to be taken in the case of CEP's suit against Bob Kimbell, the former Sharpstown vice principal and all-around HISD gadfly. CEP accuses Kimbell of presenting misinformation to the public about CEP students' success rate and claim as a result, he has damaged its business.

As of today, HISD spokesman Norm Uhl says he has no info on any decision made about CEP. We'll check back Monday afternoon to see what's been posted on the board's agenda.

-- Margaret Downing

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