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.”