Two ex-HISD administrators accused of falsifying dropout rates

February 24, 2012 3:43:18 PM PST
Eyewitness News has learned two former HISD administrators are now facing charges in an alleged scheme to falsify dropout rates.

The indictments come after an investigation into allegations that the employees were trying to cover up the number of dropouts at Kashmere High School and Key Middle School.

That investigation reportedly began back in April 2010. Doctor Dolores Westmoreland and Peggy Collins are no longer employed with HISD, but both women were said to be under investigation for allegedly altering the dropout rate at Kashmere High School and its feeder campus, Key Middle School. Dropout rates in HISD directly affects how much money a particular school gets.

Westmoreland, who was once an assistant principal at Key and retired three years ago, was indicted on three counts of tampering with a government record. Collins, a business manager, was indicted on two counts of tampering with a government record.

The pair is accused of falsifying school records to reduce the dropout rates at both schools. The allegations came to light while officials were investigating allegations of cheating and theft at the two schools. A representative of the Houston Federation of Teachers who was critical of that investigation says this is nothing more than a witch hunt.

"This goes on all the time and we've reported other instances of wrongdoing in the district, much along the same lines as what they're saying here," said Corina Ortiz with the Houston Federation of Teachers. "If it's documentation that they're looking at, we've reported instances at Sam Houston High School three years ago, concurrently when this was happening at Key and Kashmere, and they never took it seriously."

We contacted both Westmoreland and Collins and are awaiting a response.

HISD released a statement Friday which read in part, "Both of these employees were terminated in 2010 following an extensive investigation conducted by a third-party at HISD's request. This investigation uncovered evidence that employees at both schools had participated in inappropriate conduct that included altering student records. Today, Key and Kashmere are operating under new leadership and HISD is committed to ensuring the continued academic success of students in these schools."

If they are convicted, they could face 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.