Education

Why would an organization pay over $83,000 for an audit, then not make the changes recommended in the final report of that audit?

Why would that same organization pay another $21,000 for a follow-up audit two years later, when some of the original recommendations were never implemented?

Killeen Independent School District, which is exploring a potential bond issue for as much as $500 million in taxpayer money to construct new schools and renovate older buildings, contracted with Gibson Consulting Group of Austin in January 2014 to conduct a wide range of internal audits. More than 15 audits have been approved by the KISD Board of Trustees since that time, with a total cost of nearly $600,000.

At the July 11, 2017, KISD board meeting, Gibson was approved to perform a follow-up audit of KISD’s beleaguered special education program. The audit is due for completion during this school year.

The initial special education audit was commissioned in 2015 after the Texas Education Agency investigated KISD for failing to meet standards evaluating special education students to give the students appropriate education.

The audit was meant to help the district attain 100 percent compliance with state and federal regulations in providing services to special needs students.

“This internal audit will focus on the degree to which Killeen ISD effectively and efficiently serves students in special education while meeting compliance requirements,” according to the Gibson proposal for the audit, dated May 19, 2015.

Both the TEA investigation, which took place in early 2015, and the Gibson audit of later that same year showed KISD had not achieved compliance with state and federal special education regulations. At the time of the TEA investigation, KISD teachers, special education staff members and parents expressed their frustrations to the KISD Board of Trustees about the failure of the district to adequately serve special needs students.

“We worry the children who need services aren’t getting them ... and we wonder how this disparity of services and timely testing could have occurred, not only unaddressed, but also unreported for so long,” said Rick Beaule, president of the Killeen Educators Association at the Aug. 11, 2015, KISD board meeting.

The Killeen Daily Herald also reported at the time a disproportionate number of special needs students were being placed in alternative educational settings by KISD, causing them to be denied the education they needed.

KISD disputed a number of findings in the original Gibson audit, and submitted an 11-page document in early 2016 voicing the district’s objections to some audit findings.

Nearly two years after Gibson submitted the final report on the audit, KISD claims 100 percent compliance with state and federal regulations, but parents’ continued complaints to both the TEA and attorneys on behalf of their children with special needs indicate otherwise.

“Since 2015, when we opened our Austin office, there has been a continuing stream of calls from Killeen ISD, evidencing systemic problems including failure to classify students with disabilities, failure to offer appropriate IEPs, and failure to implement the IEPs they do offer,” said Elizabeth Angelone, managing attorney of the Cuddy Law Firm office in Austin. She sees an issue with KISD’s claim of 100 percent compliance with TEA regulations. “Children continue to be deprived of services and continue to suffer the long-term consequences of this deprivation of services.”

The Herald requested an interview with Janice Peronto, KISD executive director for special education, in the hopes of addressing progress in her department since the Gibson audit.

“It would depend on what the story is, what information you would be asking for and whether they would be available and willing to interview,” responded Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.

The Herald then emailed Peronto a list of questions, based on KISD’s statements in the document disputing findings in the Gibson audit.

Peronto responded to those questions Nov. 8 and throughout her answers claimed the district is in 100 percent compliance with state and federal regulations regarding special education processes.

The Gibson audit had challenged the integrity of data submitted by KISD regarding special education evaluations. Auditors also found that KISD staff members responsible for reporting data accurately failed to comply with regulations.

Here are some of the findings and responses:

AUDIT: “The TEA staff found that Killeen ISD does not have an effective process in place to meet federal and state requirements. While the district has a knowledgeable, capable staff, there is a lack of effective systemic process and procedures that prevent compliance for timely evaluation of students. The integrity of submitted data is lacking, and staff members responsible for reporting accurate data, as well as responding to complaints and due process hearings, are not complying with TEA requirements.”

Evaluations, according to federal and state law, are supposed to be completed in 45 school days, Abbott said on Sept. 28.

PERONTO’S RESPONSE: “At no time did TEA find that KISD was not providing proper evaluations.”

Peronto said EasyIEP software, which is designed to simplify creating and managing IEPs — Individual Education Plans — was implemented in the district since the audit. “As a result we have maintained 100 percent compliance for the past two years.”

AUDIT: “KISD is not sufficiently analyzing its own special education student performance data.”

KISD 2016 RESPONSE: “The Director for Assessment and Accountability presents and explains the PBMAS (Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System) report to district level administrators and all principals every year shortly after the state releases it.”

HERALD: The Herald asked Peronto: How are administrators and principals trained to understand PBMAS data?

PERONTO’S RESPONSE: “Administrators use the data from PBMAS, State assessment results, and other campus or district evaluations/survey results to identify their campus needs. The administrators, along with the Site Based Decision Making committee analyze the data to identify campus needs. Campus needs assessments are the foundation of the Campus Improvement Plan.”

AUDIT: Some special education student Individual Education Plans, or IEPs “did not contain the realistic performance expectations or the academic rigor necessary to improve student achievement.”

KISD RESPONSE: “All KISD staff responsible for creating and implementing IEPs were required to complete a three hour on-line standards-based IEP training through ESC region 20.” (ESC region 20 is the Education Service Center in San Antonio.)

The Herald asked whether special education training is mandatory for all teachers.

PERONTO’S RESPONSE: “Professional development is offered during the summer, during the teacher’s professional development weeks, and throughout the year as campuses design their calendars. There are some mandatory trainings for staff members as identified by their role in the district.”

Peronto did not elaborate on which roles qualified for this mandatory training.

Peronto acknowledged voluntary training is offered to all teachers “All special education professional development is offered to any teacher; special education or general education.”

One of the recommendations KISD disputed in the Gibson audit involved qualifications for the position Peronto was later hired to fill.

AUDIT: “The job description for the Executive Director should be modified to contain the following experience requirements: at least five years of special education program administration/leadership experience, in a school system with 15,000 or more students; at least 10 years of experience in special education; and a mid-management certification.”

KISD RESPONSE: No revision of the special education executive director’s job description took place, according to Abbott. Peronto, the former principal of Cedar Valley Elementary School, was hired for the position lacking the special education qualifications or training recommended in the Gibson audit.

Complaints from special education parents continue to be lodged against the district with the TEA. A total of 26 complaints have been filed over the past two years, according to Sherry Mansell, TEA public information coordinator.

KISD will pay Gibson Consulting Group $21,000 for a special education follow-up audit. That audit is due sometime during the present school year, according to a list provided by the firm.

254-501-7568 | jferraro@kdhnews.com

(16) comments

Nothing2doINkilleen

Y'know, if Dr. Craft was so open to meeting with individuals, why doesn't someone set it up?

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@dailymajor: Well you've done it again, tried to weasel your way out of a conversation, but it's not going to be that way. To my way of thinking you get sicker and not even funny. If it was a joke, I'd be laughing. And as to the $400 million dollar figure, you did not give any frame of reference, you just 'threw out a number'. Sorry if I was not aware of the fact that you were talking the operating budget, we were talking about estimate figures.
You've put up numbers that you really can't defend, the $350 million, the $500 million, the $700 million, and then you chose a $487 million dollar value. Like I have said 'You throw different numbers up at the wall hoping one will stick.
The way you propose your estimate doesn't have anything to use as a guide line, you just throw up a number or in this case, numbers.
I do not see where you want to give me some evidence where I can look and see just what you are doing, or planning to do. You give me nothing just like your estimate. So in my estimate to show something, I used a student body of 1200. It seems to me about the same as the high schools, and to that estimate of the proposed new high school, I divided by a factor of 10 years and then 20 years as I seem to recall the bond end date as 2037 or 2038 which would equate to the bond life. In this I received a figure of $6,250 and $7,125 per student, depending on the amount for the high school. It's saying that, in my opinion, a per student figure would be equal to $6,250 or $7,125 for each and every student for the life of the bond issue, That seems rather excessive to me. What is your opinion of these numbers, too high or too low or just about right.
But let's take another tack. For a given high school that would be $300.00 per foot, this bond issue would equate to a school that has 503,333 Square feet of space or 570,000 Square feet of space under the roof in both instances. Get Real @dailymajor. To me, nothing adds up.
You have to, or you should give people at least something that they can get into their pocket, but in my opinion, you're giving them nothing, just pipe dreams.

But as to my background, I've worked in the engineering field for about 30 odd years in power production, Petroleum Refining, an Sewage water plant design and construction. I've been involved in some pretty large contracts ranging from 100,000.00 to 2 billion dollars. Now before you start jumping up and down, I said that I've been involved because nobody is the whole aspect, we work in specific areas and mine was Instrumentation and electric control, DCS, 'Distributed Control Systems'. So there is something that has rubbed off with over 30 years of service and that is why you people should give the citizen the benefit of the doubt and give them something that they can get their teeth into besides a set of variable numbers. It's called 'Transparency in all matters'.

And this newspaper is pulling their strings and taking your article off the front page like they've done so many times before. It's called 'The First Amendment', or if you prefer, the right to free speech and there is nothing to say if you do not like what a person says, just bleep him out or bury it so nobody can see what is being said.
If this city was to do anything right, I'd be the first one to congratulate them, but I've not had that opportunity. Same with your KISD.
I'll not say 'it's OK, they tried, it doesn't matter if they blew it again'. As the commercial went, 'Sorry Charlie, you are not good enough'.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

dailymajor

Alvin, you just get sadder and sadder, funnier and funnier.
The over $400 million dollar figure I gave you was THIS YEAR'S KISD BUDGET, as I said, That figure has nothing to do whatsoever with the bond issue. Your figures are so out of line, that there is no sense trying to reason with you, because you are so out of touch with reality...You have no idea about KISD, it's money figures, future needs, expenditures, expectations, tax base, tax rate in comparison to other districts, or anything else concerning KISD. Simply put, you don't really know much of anything concerning KISD or the bond issue. You make that clear by what you say.
Then you go off on all of the city's woes, mismanagement,and taxes in general. This article and discussion is about the bond issue for KISD, not all of the other topics you jumped to. Once again, since you think you are such an expert about education, KISD, school bonds and such, you really should go talk to Dr. Craft or the school board, rather than just moaning, griping, and complaining.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@dailymajor: It's not only the KISD, but the water rate, the tax rate, and on. You must live in a shell if you are unaware of the, I think it is over $270 million dollars that this city is in hock for.
You say that my figures are all skewed, well let me see if you can straighten me out. Throw a design package together, including all of contractual agreements together, include time lines for completion, along with the completed contract cost and I'll be happy to look them over. By the way, why don't you see if you can get the contracts for the new water plant including all of the infrastructure facility's, complete with all time lines since they have already gone over 2 years in arrears, but we're still being billed for it. Yes I would really like to see what this infrastructure plan of action is.
And by the way, I have not been exposed to Dr. Craft or the $400 million budget. Say isn't that a new number???? I'm aware of 'a 350 million to 500 million to 700 million and then come back saying, 'Whups, it can be done for $487 million dollars, now you are saying $400 million dollar budget. That's the way big government operates isn't it, flood the news with unsubstantiated numbers, all different, to keep everyone guessing, as in the T.B.D. program. This is on the top of your budget line. I suggest you firm up those numbers that are for Security, disabilities access renovations first before you worry about building new schools. In fact, I don't think you know the actual number you are working toward and that's why you keep throwing out all of these abstract numbers.
But since you do not want to provide the citizens of this city with some firm commitments, such as the size of the school, any school, what the attendance will be, and while you are at it, please provide what this school area will be by year and what you expect the population drop-off rate will be, as is in the case of the school you are selling, how many miles you will be forced to buss students as the class size drops off, when you expect to close schools when the attendance falls off to the level you want to sell schools, etc. That may be good information that you need to put before this community or do you want to 'keep it a secret'. This town's good at 'keeping everything secret and below board'.
Well the balls in your court now,what are you going to do with it????
I don't want any 'future cases in which you think may be good for the KISD, cause 'there ain't any that I will answer to'.
As for my numbers, as you did not put anything out, but an estimated cost for a unknown cost for a school, I thought that giving a little perspective as estimated number of students verses the estimated cost and put it on a time frame, but you didn't see the value in that, you prefer to 'keep everything secret'. Well so be it.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

dailymajor

Alvin, you are being asked to shell out again and again? Really?
The last bond election in KISD was 2002. KISD has consistently had one of the lowest tax rates in central Texas, but I can see, talking with you is a waste of time. Your figures are all skewed, and you apparently have no knowledge of the needs. costs, and projections of KISD, but of course, you think you do.
Somehow, I just don't think you have any real knowledge of how to manage a budget of over $400 million dollars, 44,000 plus students, and 5,000 plus employees. Sorry, I just don't think you have the same knowledge and understanding as Dr. Craft, our school board,and the steering committee, but you keep fussing, griping, complaining, and throwing out those figures that you conjure up. Of course, you could do as I suggested, since you have it all figured out. You can go visit with Dr. Craft, the school board, or members of the bond steering committee, and give them guidance, but we all know that you would never, never, ever do that, would you. You will just keep complaining and fussing to anyone that will listen to you, while using very flawed figures and reasoning.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@dailymajor: To write some more on 'why I think the KISD is living in a dream world', if you take the $125,000 or the $142,500 figure and cast this out for say 10 years you get #12,500 and $14,250, and with a 20 year span you would get $6,250 and $7,125 per student.

Now as your accusation that 'I didn't want gymnasiums or cafeteria's, nor do I want to do away with scholastic sports, I am asking you, 'keep at lid on it and don't go hog wild', and that's what I think 'the KISD school board has and has been doing lately.

When you 'estimate without any estimation' then I accuse you of doing just what I said before, lack of transparency in all aspects'.

Copy: 'I guess Dr.Craft, our school board, and our steering committee have no idea about future growth, costs, needs, finances, laws or anything else, ..compared to you.' End of copy.

Well I guess I hurt your little feelings, but I would like to say, 'if you would just open up and treat some of us peons like people, and give us an idea of just what you are planning, then I guess it would do wonders for those of you who are asking us to shell out, again and again and again. But I am not in favor of a $1 million dollar scoreboard that has a life expectancy of 10 years, or less. That boat in my estimation 'won't float'.

When you go from 350 million to 500 million to 700 million and then come back saying, 'Whups, it can be done for $487 million dollars, with nothing but a frog in your pocket, well lets just say, 'some of us are a little skeptical'. It's like the KEDC going about the city's business without involving 'the whole city council', just a minimum quorum of 4 individuals and 2 of the councilpersons plus the mayor is on the KEDC board of directors. There is something wrong with that picture don't you think....

Copy: 'Maybe you could go meet with Dr.Craft and give him some guidance?
Check all of your figures and "facts" before you throw them out there.' End of copy.

Question: 'Does anyone on the KISD school board, or your steering committee have experience with planning, scheduling, or design or anyone of the engineering expertise, I would sure like to know that because it doesn't seem to show.

Copy: 'KISD bond steering committee identifies top priorities'. End of copy.

The top listing on your steering committee, 'Ranking:' 5.0, has a capital project rating of 'T.B.D. To Be Determined'. That's on the top of your list. Then you go to the new schools, T.B.B., 'To be built' with apparently no design plans of how many students there will be, or any of the amenities, and you have a dollar figure on that. Where did you get that from????

With this type of planning, of forecasting dollar figures 'out of the blue', you will get my vote, not this way.

And by the way, 'What did you think of the cost for 20 years that is $7,125, per student????

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@dailymajor: First I only stated on one school, the high school and if the cost of the school is $150 million to $171 million and the number of students will be say 1,200, then the cost per student will be $125,000 on the low end and $142,500. But we don't have any idea as to 'what would be included in this cost for educational services. It's another example of citizens being asked to go into some blind. Is that your preferred method of exposure, much like this city's administrative group????

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

dailymajor

Alvin, I get it. You do not want any "extras" like gyms, fields, etc. for the kids..no athletics, band, extracurriculars. That's fine, although I don't agree with you... Maybe we could even do away with some of our 48 or so schools and campuses in KISD which service over 44,000 students. How about doing away with the transportation system, which has 248 buses for our students, or our cafeterias that feed the kids? ... Where in the world do you get your figures for total cost and cost per school? All of your figures are so flawed that I don't even know where to start....I guess Dr.Craft, our school board, and our steering committee have no idea about future growth, costs, needs, finances, laws or anything else, ..compared to you. Maybe you could go meet with Dr.Craft and give him some guidance?
Check all of your figures and "facts" before you throw them out there.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@dailymajor: I along with other people 'object to their school money being wasted in reference to the cost of education.

At the last number that was being bantered around, $150 million, if you say that a school will hold 1,200 students, then that would be a cost per pupil of $125,000 dollars or at $171 million, that would come to a42,500 dollars cost per pupil. And what amenities would that school offer in regard to teaching a formal education not counting any and all sports curriculum???? Would it be complete with a gymnasium with weight room, shower rooms, both male and female, gymnastic room, hand ball court, football field, both practice and stadium, plus of course a scoreboard, baseball field, soccer field, and an auditorium???? What do you envision that the high school would envision????

But then I have to ask the question, 'Do they even know what the size of the school is supposed to be, counting of the number of students???? I would imagine not, so how can they account for the cost if they do not have a set of working plans in which to estimate the cost and what frills does that number include???? As I say, a cost of $150,000,000 breaks down to a cost of $125,00 per student. That to me is pretty expensive education, or is this 'just a pie in the sky' type of estimation, or so it would seem to me, but this is just my personal opinion.

As to work opportunities, you can go to work at a hospital, or a police officer, or something as a clerk for they just not offer anything of that nature, but as to anything to do with anything relating to the technical fields, but this is just my personal opinion.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

dailymajor

Nothing, since Killeen and KISD have nothing to offer you, go to Waco, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Florence, Rogers, or Lampasas and see what kind of grand opportunities they offer. Check on their "world class medical facilities" and opportunities for the youth to stay there and prosper. Check on going to Austin ISD or any of the other districts I named and see what kind of Special Education your child gets...If I was as unhappy as you are, I would move..no mater what the reason, excuse, or situation...If KISD is so bad, move your child to another surrounding district..se how that works out for you. I have a feeling that you are a negative person, griping, complaining about just about everything constantly. Nothing ever suits you. Try those other districts, they might be just what you are looking for., but then, they are probably not.

Nothing2doINkilleen

If you read, and I assume you did not, you would find that my adult children have aged out of KISD. I just do not like that parents have been given the short shrift when all they seek is a free and appropriate education. Nothing gold plated, just appropriate to help them make adequate yearly progress.

dailymajor

Nothing,... I guess Copperas Cove, Temple, Belton, Waco, Florence, and Lampasas are the lands of opportunity for young people and the home of world class health care? Their school districts are so much better than KISD? Really?...You do sound just like some of the parents I was alluding to. If I thought it was so bad here, I would not be here. ..no matter what the reason, justification, or excuse. ...Yes, you sound exactly like the type of parent that is always griping, complaining, and mouthing about something that does not suit you...and...you say there are positive articles in the paper all the time about KISD. Get real. ...With over 44, 000 students, really?

Nothing2doINkilleen

Every time KDH publishes an article on compliance in special education--or concerns over the lack thereof--there is always someone rushing to the defense of KISD. News flash. KDH does cover good stuff that happens in KISD. Sports gets inordinate coverage. The Late Fred Rogers said "Look for the helpers." There are a ton of teachers helping in the face of district hijinks and mayhem above them. I'm a 'disgruntled parent' of special needs adults who were handed 'passports to poverty'---high school diplomas by KISD. I'm still driving them places and keeping them involved in the community, because there is nothing to transition to after graduation. If you haven't lived in a part of the country where quality of life is better, and regional medical or related services are world class, the school systems are no comparison to what is here. Kids have to leave the area...and I mean 'typical kids' to make good use of what they have learned; to grow and have access to better opportunities. Same goes for us special needs parents...we have to look outside of this area if we want a future for our kids. KISD has issues and it's all in management of resources and priorities. Who calls for an audit and doesn't follow best practices cited?

dailymajor

KISD "claims". If the KDH was ever positive as often as all of the negative they try to pull up, I, as well as a lot of people, would be in total shock. There are thousands of success stories that happen in KISD every single day. Why doesn't KDH write about those stories?...As far as special ed goes, I know for a fact how much work and effort KISD and teachers as well as administrators put in to make special ed as successful as possible for all students. Are they going to please all parents? No. It will never happen. There are always disgruntled parents unhappy about something. Always.
It would be really nice to see KDH report on positive efforts and stories about our school district, teachers, and administrators rather than be the negative paper that they are. It's really a shame with all of the good that KISD does for thousands of kids every single day.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@eyewatchingu: Yep it appears that this group cannot administer so no bonds until they get a group of people who can see to it that our children receive the quality education that they deserve and that we are paying through the nose for it. I agree, NO on the bond elewction.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

eyewatchingu

More reasons we need to Vote No on this BOND

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