Last week when Hair Balls reported that LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens) had sent letters to the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts saying it should investigate Houston ISD for the amount of money it spends on two private alternative schools, we were told our figures were incorrect by HISD spokesman Norm Uhl.
The precise figure Uhl objected to most was 811. That represents the number of HISD students who have graduated from the two schools run by Community Education Partners.
"We don't know where this 811 figure came from. We never put out a figure like that," Uhl told us.
Well, turns out they did.
In an e-mailed message today from Lisa Kinney, another HISD media relations specialist, Hair Balls learned that after further checking on HISD's part, it is now willing to verify the 811 number.
But it still objects to some of the conclusions drawn by LULAC member and CEP critic Robert Kimball, who said he got his numbers direct from the results of a public-information request to HISD.
From Kinney's e-mail:
During the ten year period (1999 to 2009) it is true that 14,772 students were "referred" to CEP. However, a referral does not necessarily mean the student ever attends CEP. Of the 14,772 referrals, 9,109 were actually enrolled in CEP.
Many CEP students are not near the age of graduation and often leave CEP to return to their former schools. Of the 9,109 students who were enrolled in CEP, 2,661 are either still enrolled in CEP or are enrolled in other HISD schools, and 811 graduated, making the net number of students without graduation data 5,637.
During that time frame, some students may have left the district for another district or moved out of state or the county. HISD serves some 200,000 students each year. The mobility rate of students moving in and out of the districts is substantial.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
So, we can all feel better now. HISD isn't looking for what happened to the number of kids you come up with when you subtract 811 from 14,772 (13,961).
It just can't account for 5,637 kids, which given its 200,000 students across the district each year, really doesn't seem like that many. Probably, most of them graduated from school somewhere else anyhow. And CEP, well, it's still doing a great job. And it doesn't mean anything that 5,637 kids would rather do anything else than go to school there.
You can't save everyone.
Update: Robert Kimball called Hair Balls to say that the number of unaccounted kids is actually 11,300. That's the 5,637 with no graduation data, as well as the 5,663 (14,772 minus 9,109) who never showed at CEP.