The Key/Kashmere Case That May Vanish Into the Void

Investigations are essentially complete into the Key Middle School/Kashmere High School fiasco Superintendent Terry Grier said Tuesday.

All except for the part that HISD investigators have discovered that at least one other person and perhaps two were also involved in the multitude of alleged problems at the school and will be issuing a further report on that, he said.

Kashmere Principal Mable Caleb (who was formerly at Key) already turned in her retirement notice, effective August 31 (although she denies any wrongdoing), and Dolores Westmoreland, the dean of instruction at Kashmere, is scheduled to resign on Wednesday, Grier said.

The investigation started with a tip about computers disappearing from the middle school (some of which showed up at Kashmere High) and ended up encompassing allegations of cheating on standardized tests, improper payments to relatives of Caleb and missing money galore.

The district's investigation was turned over to its legal department which is analyzing it, Grier said. Where it goes from there seemed a bit cloudy today.

Asked if the Harris County District Attorney's Office was investigating for possible criminal charges, Grier said, "We have not been contacted by the district attorney's office."

"The reports had enough press you'd think the DA's office was aware of it," he added.

When asked to respond to this, Donna Hawkins, spokeswoman for the DA's office issued this statement: "The district attorney's office's Public Integrity Division will pursue prosecution on any viable cases that are presented to us. It is the responsibility of the investigating agency to contact the district attorney's office to initiate proceedings."

So Caleb may benefit from falling through the cracks of different agencies it appears. Asked if he was going to fire Caleb rather than wait for her self-announced time clock to run out, Grier said, "In Texas if you were to fire anyone, they have a right to a hearing." Saying the hearing process would take about three months, Grier said the timing would be about the same in either approach. There is also a performance clause that he could exercise, Grier said, but added that would likely take about the same amount of time to work through.

Apparently the Texas Education Agency's Commissioner Robert Scott got his panties in a wad, thinking HISD was conducting its investigation and not keeping the state apprised of what was going on, Grier said in more politically correct language than Hair Balls just used. HISD had thought the TEA was conducting its own investigation, Grier said.

Anyhow, the district ended up driving to Austin to hand deliver the commissioner a copy of its investigation, Grier said. Is everybody happy?

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