Selling Kids to HISD

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And all this time we thought HISD Abe Saavedra’s outreach to dropouts was just in the kids’ best interest. Turns out, it can be a money maker as well – or at least that’s the pitch made in a July 31, 2008 letter to the superintendent from a local attorney speaking on behalf of the private alternative schools used by the district.

In the just-unearthed letter, Houston attorney Vidal G. Martinez writes on behalf of Community Education Partners to point out the money to be made by bringing more overage kids back to the classroom.

After thanking the superintendent for renewing the New Aspirations contract with CEP to serve 185 HISD kids at most risk of dropping out, Martinez offers Saavedra a new deal, extending the present program.

Martinez targets certain

high schools whose graduation rates could increase and dropout rates decrease by implementing this program.

It will prove to be a revenue generator for the district by re-enrolling those students who have dropped out.

The district can claim the revenue generated, which last year was $9,531, while paying CEP $5,400.

That’s a clear profit of $4,131 per kid!!! The proposal calls for re-enrolling 200 additional students, meaning about $826,000 in revenue to HISD.

Whether the "re-enrolled" kids, some of whom dropped out two years ago, ever actually attend CEP doesn't seem to matter in terms of revenue.

At the end of the accompanying documentation, CEP asks that the district provide the names of students who have dropped out of Jones, Austin, Furr, Madison, Milby, Empowerment, Sterling, Worthing and Chavez High Schools in the 2007-08 and 2006-07 school years.

In a call to HISD to find out whether such a program was ever implemented, Press Secretary Norm Uhl said he’d look into the matter. We’ll update when we get more information. Uhl did say that he didn’t believe the district giving the names of dropouts to CEP was an invasion of privacy, saying CEP was considered part of the district.

We’ll also update you if attorney Martinez calls us back.

Margaret Downing

Update: Norm Uhl reports that HISD did not implement the proposal made by Vidal Martinez in the letter. “As for the figures used, you’d have to ask the author of the letter,” Uhl wrote.

Also, since the program was not implemented, Uhl says the names of former dropouts from those nine schools were never shared with CEP.

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