HISD superintendent on COO's arrest for $6M kickback scheme: 'Never seen such a failure'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the case against former HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby continues to raise questions, HISD said it has a plan in place to keep this from happening again.

Last week, Busby was arrested and indicted for allegedly working alongside a contractor to overbill the district $7 million for landscaping projects.

In response to the news, on Monday, HISD's new superintendent Millard House released the following statement:

"I am outraged. Outraged that we're talking about this. Outraged how adults who are supposed to be working for the public trust may have taken money from children. In my 26 years as an educator - in Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee - I have never seen such a failure," House wrote. "As a parent, as a teacher, as a taxpayer, I promise you - HISD will do everything in its power to never be vulnerable to this kind of alleged misconduct again. I knew this job was going to be hard. We have 50 failing schools we must transform. We must overhaul our special education services, and we have to rebuild some of our schools."

SEE ALSO: HISD's former COO indicted: Prosecutors allege contractor overcharged district $6M in scheme

According to Busby's indictment, in September of 2019, a federal search warrant was executed on several email addresses linked to Busby and Anthony Hutchinson, who owns Southwest Wholesale. Hutchinson is accused of paying several HISD employees in exchange for being rewarded landscaping and maintenance jobs for the district.

It wasn't until the end of February 2020 that the public first got wind that there was a federal investigation into HISD. FBI agents were at the Hattie Mae White building one morning carrying out boxes and computers.

House added that while he did not create the problem, he aims to solve it.

"Well before I was made aware of the charges announced, I ordered a complete review of the internal team and systems for contracting and vendors. I ordered an external review of our procurement procedures, and I have made changes to make sure everyone on my staff knows it is a new day inside HISD. It is my job to set the standard for meaningful accountability district-wide," he wrote. "We will not waver in our commitment to create a better district and a brighter future, and we will raise the bar for accountability at every level of our district."
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