Educators with questionable credentials

May 15, 2008 1:51:40 PM PDT
An expert getting paid to help autistic children in the North Forest school district is fighting attempts to bring him before a grand jury. Ruth Watson is the administrator at the center of this widening spending scandal. She's been replaced, but where's the North Forest school board? After all, they're the ones who approved contracts with Watson's kinfolk and other special education consultants with questionable credentials.

Calvert, Texas is hours away from the troubled North Forest school district, so why is 13 Undercover here? We're looking for the headquarters of a special education consultant who has made up to $9,000 from North Forest in just one month.

"There may be some people you may need to run them down because I've done nothing wrong," said Willie Hall who is a North Forest consultant.

Let's take a closer look at Mr. Hall and what you were paying his company to do for the teachers who were helping autistic children in North Forest ISD.

"You mean training teachers," Hall said. "I haven't trained any teachers in autism."

But that's exactly what a contract said W.G. Hall and Associates were doing, "staff training for special ed teachers on autism strategies."

"I went over some things that were about strategies, I wouldn't say it was teaching them," he said.

Mr. Hall signed the contract.

"OK what you want to be," he asked. "What you want to make out of it?"

The contract lists Willie Hall's credentials. He claims credentials in special education and speech therapy. Except state records show he's not certified in either. Hall's contract also says he has a mismanagement certification.

"I did what it said," he told us.

"How could you do what it said if you're not an expert on autism," I asked.

"I know about autism," he replied.

"I know about autism too, but that doesn't mean I get money to train people how to teach it," I answered.

North Forest check records show Hall's company was paid $13,500 in just one month. That's more than $58,000 since last August.

"What is this, a black and white issue," Hall asked. "You fixing to get under my skin now man, you know that?"

His billings to North Forest include dozens of invoice dates on weekdays, in part to observe special ed students. Hard to imagine how he could do that during the North Forest school day. Hall is a full time reading teacher at a school in Bryan ISD. We saw him leave that campus close to 4pm. Hall was a counselor for a Bryan school for one year, twenty years ago.

"I did what I was supposed," he said. "I think I helped a lot of kids."

We went looking for Cne Danielle Flannigan.

Flannigan Consulting Services got its first special ed consulting contract in October 2006. One day after county records show the company was formed. Cne Flannigan is listed as another trainer of the North Forest special ed staff. She's also testing kids to find out what they could do in the workplace. We found no evidence she's certified in education either.

But she is related to another special ed employee.

We've already shown you that special ed director Ruth Watson had more than half a dozen of her kin folk on the payroll. Maybe they didn't get the memo, the one warning against conflicts of interest.

"Before this is completed, I will deal with it," said William Jones who is the North Forest Interim Superintendent.

Then there's Kreative Kids Solutions. The company got an education consulting contract with North Forest in June of 06, but county records show the company wasn't legally formed until more than a month later.

The company is owned by Leslie Willis. The DA's office says it has confirmed Willis has a child with a member of the North Forest school board, Alan Provost. In fact it was Provost who made the motion that Willis get her consulting contract.

What does Mr. Provost have to say to 13 Undercover?

"Call my lawyer," he said.

Wednesday night at 10pm, parents start speaking out with horror stories about North Forest special ed.

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