Four teachers in cheating probe file suit asking to see HISD records and information

Houston Federation of Teachers hold town hall meeting in Jefferson Community. The issues being addressed include parents questions about teachers accused of involvement in testing improprieties.

January 15, 2014 3:30:29 PM PST
Four Atherton Elementary teachers who were suspended because of cheating allegations have filed suit against HISD, asking the court to give them access to HISD records and information.

According to the request for injunctive relief, the teachers are asking for emails, reports, witness statements and previous interviews related to the alleged Atherton STAARS test cheating.

The teachers are also asking that a court reporter be allowed to transcribe interviews conducted by HISD with the teachers, as well as the Texas' erasure analysis report of the tests in question.

The suit also accused HISD Superintendent Terry Grier of using "high priced local lawyers" to act as Grier's self-described "personal investigators." The suit claims that charges of malfeasance by HISD have been most noticeable against black administrators.

Last November, 15 teachers from Jefferson and Atherton elementary schools were removed or reassigned from the classroom, while HISD investigates test irregularities.

The suit, filed by Reuel Sosa, Jennifer Sterling, Veronica Davis and Sherri Jackson, is asking for a temporary injunction and ultimately, a permanent injunction to gain access to the information they are requesting. Houston ISD issued the following statement in response:

"We are aware that a suit for a temporary restraining order was filed against HISD by teachers at Atherton Elementary School who are part of the district's investigation into testing irregularities during the 2012-2013 school year. This order seeks from the court the ability to have a court reporter present during employee interviews, which is highly unusual. The order also includes other items that would interfere with our ability to conduct the investigation at this time.

"In response to the suit, HISD would like to assert its belief that, like all organizations, it has the right to interview its employees as outlined in its procedures and policies. As a courtesy to our employees during these interviews, each employee is allowed one representative of his or her choosing. At this point, these interviews are simply part of an internal investigation of what potentially happened and not a finding of fault against any of the teachers. As such, HISD believes the requests outlined in this order are both premature and disruptive to the investigation. HISD looks forward to concluding these interviews soon."

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