13 Undercover's NFISD investigation

July 31, 2008 9:27:41 PM PDT
13 Undercover has been following the goings-on in the North Forest Independent School District for months, exposing what we called "The Family Affair" in the special education department. "I think you are a mess maker," said former district special education director Ruth Watson.

The apparent misspending by Dr. Watson may have been the final straw. A 13 undercover investigation found more than half a dozen of her relatives got part of a federal grant.

Money meant for the most challenged children.

"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.

"Every dime is approved," Watson told us.

The takeover letter released from the state on Thursday says its preliminary investigation has found "substantial non compliance...substantial questioned costs"

It was an investigation that North Forest school officials tried to block from the beginning. Remember they tried to block us from coming into the administration building.

"Explain to the parents of the kids that you are not protecting right now because you have five cars down here," we said to the North Forest ISD chief when we tried to go into the administration building and they wouldn't let us.

We discovered much of the school board had run afoul of election laws. The school board president wouldn't talk.

Board member Alan Provost gave us his lawyer's business card.

Turned out one of the special ed specialists under scrutiny was a woman who had a child with Mr. Provost. The interim superintendent promised the possible queen of nepotism would face a full investigation.

"Before this is completed anybody that has been involved in a situation that may be inappropriate, I will deal with it," said William Jones who is the North Forest Interim Superintendent.

But in recent days North Forest renewed Watson's contract. It is a different job but with the same salary. She still faces an investigation by the district attorney's office.

Investigators were shocked by the North Forest move. One said they will just never change and that is why the state is stepping in.

The state's letter to the district is here.

The TEA has only ousted two other school boards. One was the Wilmer-Hutchins School District two years ago and the other was the Kendleton ISD board back in the early 1990's.

The TEA's plan for now is just that, a plan. The Justice Department still has to approve it. We'll keep you posted.

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