War Breaks Out At A Houston Charter School, Obama (Possibly) Embarrassed

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There's trouble brewing at the Girls and Boys Preparatory Academy, a small charter school on Houston's southwest side.

A little background: the academy received its charter in 1995, making it one of 19 original charter schools to open in Texas. Carroll Salley, the school's founder, was working at HISD but didn't like the way black students were treated, so she started the academy, according to an article in African-American News & Issues.

Problems started when a new superintendent, Victoria Dunn, was hired in July of last year by the school board, and the board wanted her to make sure all the teachers were certified with the state because plenty were not. The school was rated as academically unacceptable by the TEA in 2008.

In her first six months on the job, Dunn wasn't allowed to make any administrative changes, but in January, she started cracking down. The boldest move was firing Kimya McKinney, the school's principal and Salley's daughter.

"[The academy] was organized with a concept, a curriculum, community views and so forth that have totally been ignored," Salley told the board at a meeting last Thursday. "We did not start this organization for people to be paid to come in and tell us how to run the organization. This evening is a total disgrace. It is an embarrassment. I think we are embarrassing President Obama."

Following Salley's speech, an entourage of several attorneys and Houston's Minister Jeremiah, formerly the crack-dealer-turned-preacher Johnny Binder, informed the board that a lawsuit was coming if the school didn't reverse its decision to fire McKinney and several other teachers.

The board hired attorney Richard Morris, and a couple shouting matches broke out at the meeting, held in the school's science lab, after Morris continually interrupted Salley and the others. .

"You cannot speak to how this board is coordinated, how it functions," Morris told the group. But in the future, he said, "It could necessitate having a judge resolve these governance issues."

The school board was able to approve a standard curriculum -- modeled after Fort Bend County ISD -- for the first time in its history, and it approved this year's budget. According to the TEA, the school gets about $5.7 million from the state each year, and a representative from the agency was at the board meeting because the school's financial reports are several months delinquent.

No one at the meeting wanted to comment on the situation, and Salley and other lawyers involved haven't returned our phone calls. But Hair Balls will continue to follow the story, because if any of the accusations being thrown around are true, things could get interesting.

-- Paul Knight

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