On the Friday night before spring break, Killeen ISD released two drafts of the district’s special education audit to the Herald.
This release came three months after the Herald first had requested the documents.
The district fought those requests in February, with the help of taxpayer-funded attorneys, by asking the Texas Attorney General’s Office to uphold the district’s decision to keep the drafts from the public.
The school district and its attorneys withdrew the attempt to block public access March 11, the day the district released the two draft audit reports.
Minutes after the documents’ release, the district also released a two-page statement on the matter. In the statement, district officials said the documents were withheld because the Board Audit Committee and the full board of trustees had yet to review the documents at the time of the Herald’s request.
District officials also said the only revision to the draft reports dealt with incorrect STAAR, standardized testing, data.
The Herald’s analysis found that to be incorrect. Not only did the reports include additional revisions and deletions, but one referred to yet another report the public had not seen.
One year after the state found the district’s special education program to be noncompliant with state and federal regulations, parents of special-needs children in the district continue to wait for improvements in the program.
Amid multiple document requests over the last few months, the point of contention between the Herald and the district centered on what the public has the right to see and know.
The public has a right to see what they paid for — the unaltered, unedited, original findings of the taxpayer-funded special education audit, the Herald contends.
Yet, it is unclear whether the Herald has received the original report.
On March 11, the Herald asked the district’s professional standards administrator, Mike Harper, to provide documentation — via email — of Gibson Consulting Group’s original draft.
Later on the same day, Harper said he could not provide email documentation because “basically they (Gibson) have a document sharing drive.”
Despite this lack of documentation, he assured the Herald that the January draft audit was in fact the original. “Yes,” he said. “It was the first draft that we received, correct.”
However, the newly released January draft, which the district said is the original document, refers to an additional “separate” report.
The Herald requested the “separate” document from the district Friday.
Superintendent John Craft said the request will be forwarded to Gibson Consulting Group.
The special education audit is comprised of three chapters — Chapter 1: Introduction, Chapter 2: Special Education Program Delivery and Chapter 3: Special Education Organizational Management.
According to the January draft audit, Chapter 2 doesn’t include all the information the district received from Gibson — instead it is tucked into an unidentified additional report.
The reference to that report, found on page 22 in the January draft audit, is missing from page 22 in the final audit report.
“As part of the audit, student archival data was analyzed to explore student performance outcomes, retention rates and discipline involvement for KISD special education students. A complete report of this assessment is contained in a separate report. However, key excerpts from that analysis are incorporated into this chapter.”
It is unknown who made the decision to remove this paragraph, and the mention of another report, from the final document.
Friday, in response to the Herald’s questions about the missing paragraph, Craft said the district was not involved in revising the reports.
“Revisions and deletions to the Final Audit report would have been made by Gibson Consulting associates prior to presenting to the Board Audit Committee on March 4,” he said. “District employees do not have the ability to make changes to drafts nor final reports. Questions pertaining to changes made from draft audit reports and final audit reports would need to be answered by Gibson Consulting.”
In comparing the two documents — the January draft and the final audit — the Herald found several thousand revisions.
Of these revisions, 28 were found to alter the meaning or content of the information presented to the public.
Revisions such as typos, spelling errors, capitalization errors and other grammatical changes were not included in the Herald’s analysis of the documents.
The Herald documented changes to table data, data source changes, word substitutions, deleted words, and in one case, four deleted rows of data from Table 1-6, “Special Education Students, Instructional Setting, KISD.”
In the draft version, the data for Table 1-6, added up to equal 101.1 percent. In the final version, after the deletion of four rows and the substitution of another row titled “Other,” the data added up to be 100 percent.
In multiple instances, the ranking of Killeen ISD among six other peer districts, present in the January draft, was deleted from the same data tables that appear in the final report.
These are only two examples of many revisions that took place before the public or the board viewed the report.
Over the last month, the district’s response to the Herald’s questions regarding the audit’s revisions has changed.
- HOW MANY REVISIONS/CORRECTIONS WERE MADE TO THE DRAFT?
On Feb. 18, district officials said, “the district provided the first set of revisions/corrections to the draft report on February 3, 2016.”
On March 18, Craft told the Herald in an email, “District employees do not have the ability to make changes to drafts nor final reports.”
“Again, the removal of any information from the Draft report to the final version would have been made by Gibson Consulting associates and clarification would need to be provided by the firm,” he said in the same email to the Herald.
- WHAT CHANGES WERE MADE TO THE DRAFT AUDIT?
On Feb. 25, “The only change to the revised version of the audit report, is a correction to the Special Education Student STAAR Grades 3-8 Combined Passing Rates – PBMAS Indicator 1, District-Level, 2013-2015 table on page 23,” district officials said. “The district rate for 2012-13 was entered into the table incorrectly in the initial draft.”
And on March 7, during the special education audit presentation to the board and the public, Greg Gibson, president of Gibson Consulting Group, addressed revisions to the audit.
“We are in control of the report,” Gibson said. “I had to sign off on the report. So any editorial changes that are proposed, and really none were proposed from this draft, other than fixing the item on that table, those have to be approved by me and I have the final say on what goes in the audit report. So district administration does not have any control over what goes in the audit report other than confirming that the factual information is correct. I just wanted to clarify that because it is important.”
Last week, the Herald found 28 revisions in addition to the incorrect STAAR data.