Representatives of several educational advocacy organizations expressed concern last week after reviewing a Texas Education Agency report critical of the Killeen Independent School District’s special education practices — a report some school board members don’t recall seeing in its entirety.

The Herald contacted board members to determine whether they had full knowledge of the TEA report submitted to district Superintendent John Craft in July. The report highlights a range of issues within the special education department.

Board members Marvin Rainwater, Shelley Wells, Corbett Lawler and board president Terry Delano could not confirm whether they had read or received a full copy of the TEA preliminary report.

JoAnn Purser, Susan Jones and Minerva Trujillo were unable to be reached for comment.

“I don’t remember what I’ve seen or what I looked at,” Delano said. “I believe we were briefed on (the report).”

Later Delano clarified, adding, “in fairness to them, (the report) could have been provided in the board book, but I can’t say for sure. I feel that the administration has been very forthcoming about that report and the special education department.”

Rainwater and Lawler both confirmed the report was discussed in executive session earlier this year, but did not provide any further details.

“There is a commitment on this board that this problem is going to be fixed,” Lawler said. “We hold Dr. Craft responsible — the board hires and fires one man or woman in the district. That’s the only position we control.

“I believe the superintendent understands that the board expects this problem to be fixed right and I believe he is committed to do that,” Lawler said.

“It is going to take time,” Rainwater said. “We have certainly had a serious and pointed conversation, and that’s all I can say.”

Meanwhile, representatives of Partners for Education and the Killeen Educators Association requested a public component to the district’s special education cleanup in light of the TEA report.

“Partners for Education has read the Preliminary TEA Findings Report and believe our community needs to band together and say that this is inexcusable and unacceptable,” said Stephanie Moody, parent and PFE spokeswoman. “This proves an obvious lack of accountability and leadership within KISD.

“The district appears to have been operating in the shadows,” Moody said. “Corrective action needs to be brought into the light. ... All Killeen families need to be given a voice. Partners for Education would like to see a parental advisory board. ... The longer we talk and discuss change, the more our children fall behind.”

Rick Beaule, Killeen Educators Association president, said he felt the report supported his repeated requests for the district to include the public in this process.

“The teachers, aides and the staff of KISD are the vital cogs that bring the future to us through our children,” Beaule said. “They need to be able to trust that leadership will be provided that allows them to do the important work they do every day.

“This report from the Texas Education Agency underscores why we have been consistently asking for a public component to solving this issue,” he said. “We believe this component should involve a districtwide event, hosted by the district, to promote collection of all thoughts on special education in KISD.”

Contact Lauren Dodd at ldodd@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7568

(2) comments

schiperno

Dear Whom It May Concern, 10-9-15

Parents for Education has read the Preliminary TEA Findings Report and believe our community needs to band together and say that this is inexcusable and unacceptable! This proves an obvious lack of accountability and leadership within KISD.

KISD was has not been compliant with federal special education laws for 9 years when they had a Director of Special Education and a Compliance Officer; Currently both of those positions sit unfilled even in the midst of this Special Education debacle that has finally erupted; We do not see how they could possibly be able to be compliant now, even with this action plan.

The district appears to have been operating in the shadows. Corrective action needs to be brought into the light. Many of the solutions being offered to the public are not realistic or immediate and have been made to simply placate the community. The longer we talk and discuss change, the more our children fall behind.

All Killeen families need to be given a voice. Partners for Education would like to see a parental advisory board. Community involvement needs to be encouraged and welcomed. We need uniformity across the district regarding testing and evaluation procedures.

Partners for Education
Stephanie Moody,
Parent & Public Relations Representative

Killeen Educators Association

This is the full text of the statement from Killeen Educators Association:

"The teachers, aides, and the staff of KISD are the vital cogs that bring the future to us through our children. Our Special Education teachers and aides are even more important in empowering those most vulnerable in our society to achieve greatness. They need to be able to trust that leadership will be provided that allows them to do the important work they do every day.

This report from the Texas Education Agency underscores why we have been consistently asking for a public component to solving this issue. We believe this component should involve a district-wide event, hosted by the district, to promote collection of all thoughts on Special Education in KISD, whether they be positive, critical, or otherwise. A community coming together to give KISD the complete information it needs to make whatever changes are needed in the department, done in a way that helps the community heal and feel invested in the process.

Because healing is important. Right now, feelings are strong on all sides, division seems inevitable and enduring, and slights are easily perceived. We must be able to join together during this moment, not split apart. Doing so will enable us move forward as a community once this process is complete, united in our desire to bring the best to our children.

We understand that in examining and overhauling such a large department, and dealing with the incredibly complex rules and regulations of Special Education that reforms will take both time and the efforts of the entire KISD community to achieve. But our children and those who teach them deserve nothing less. Our efforts to fix these issues should not stop until complete and permanent success is achieved, so the focus can get back to educating our children, where it belongs."

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