Parents tell special ed horror stories

May 15, 2008 3:56:49 PM PDT
Parents are coming forward with horror stories about the North Forest Special Education Department. We've been following the money trail.Now Washington is also asking for an audit of millions in federal grant money.

We've learned the grand jury has now subpoenaed campaign records from the North Forest School Board. That's a sign of a growing investigation, but for parents of special education kids, this is not just about misspent tax money.

"I don't see how a human being can sleep at night knowing the wrong you are doing for these children," said parent Tiffany Jones.

Imani is a thirteen year old girl and life has dealt her many challenges.

"She's been diagnosed with autism, mental retardation, cerebral palsy and epilepsy," Jones told us.

Imani can't feed herself, can't talk for herself, but her mom calls her a victim of the special education debacle unfolding in North Forest schools.

"It's no words that explain the frustration that I have," she said.

Last September the school district promised to order a necessary high chair for Imani to sit in.

"I haven't received anything," Jones said.

Instead Jones says her little girl is usually left in restraints.

At Rogers Elementary School, there's a young girl with Down syndrome. She's Angela Wesley's daughter.

"She has no books," Wesley told us. "They don't have the funds to purchase the books and now I see why."

North Forest doled out huge amounts of money for friends and relatives of the now ousted special ed director Ruth Watson. She was removed just days before our investigation hit the air.

One of the $3,000 a month consultants is Watson's sister who tells us she helped the kids at the district's special education triage center plant a garden. Now the garden is made up of a couple of stakes and lots of weeds.

At the beginning of the school year, Wesley met to discuss her daughter's special needs.

We asked if there was anyone there to help her and she said, "No there wasn't."

Yet Lester Houston's company was already being paid handsomely to provide parent educators to do just that. The company was paid $31,000 in just two months.

"Whatever is going on, if I can correct it as a board member I will do my best," said Albert Lemons who is an NFISD Board Member. "I give you my promise."

But Lemons is new to a school board that fought for weeks to keep its special ed records from us.

Their elected school board president told us "no comment" when we asked for his name as he walked by us.

Can board member Allen Provost stand for the children, when the mother of one of his children, got an education consulting contract under scrutiny, even before she was certified to teach.

"Special needs children are people too and they need to be taken care of and loved," Jones said. "It actually hurts, it's sad, sometimes I cry."

It is board member Alan Provost who has complained about past state criticism of the North Forest Special Ed department.

Here are letters about that you can see for yourself:
- Letter 1
- Letter 2

The DAs office wants to hear from parents who didn't get services from consultants like Lester Houston. They can call 713-755-8330.

And we'll keep exposing the family affair.

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