Anna Eastman: HISD Board May Be Losing the Public Trust

Categories: Education

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Anna Eastman calls for an audit.
Acknowledging that "the public trust that we've had is really waning" and that "there's an appearance of impropriety," Houston ISD board trustee Anna Eastman said today she believes the district should have "a third party to audit our bidding and procurement procedures."

In recent months, increasing questions have been raised about whether Board President Paula Harris should be voting on the contracts of her good friend Nicole West, who operates a construction firm. Previously, Harris has defiantly said that she's not going to give up her friends and that there's nothing wrong in her voting on business involving them.

Harris did not return phone calls from Hair Balls on Thursday. She has told the Houston Chronicle that she would start abstaining from votes involving West.

Criticism has also been leveled at board member Larry Marshall for his trip to Costa Rica, to which he responded in an earlier board meeting that he was doing good work, looking for better ways to fund health care. The Chronicle reported this week that Marshall had approached both Superintendent Terry Grier and Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett about hiring Kenneth Wells, a Houston doctor who accompanied Marshall on the Costa Rica trip.

HISD board policy states that trustees are not supposed to talk to potential vendors about upcoming business with the district between the time the bidding process starts and the board votes on it.

Stressing that she wasn't pointing the finger at any fellow board members, Eastman said what she's looking for is "at least recommendations for higher standards and control."

"I think it's very clear at this point that no laws have been broken," Eastman said. "I'm not in the position to accuse anyone. I just think it's incredibly important for us to be beyond reproach."

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7 comments
Vaio
Vaio

HISD's problems are so wide and so deep that to repair the issues and restore the District to its true purpose, would require a colonic cleansing from the Board through Terry Grier and across all of the silly CSOs and SIOs.  HISD has always had highly effective teachers in the classroom.  The problem is and has always been the folks in administration, silly folks the likes of S. Dallas Dance, with only two years of classroom experience, who are arrogant enough to stand over teachers with more than 10 times his experience, and tell them how to do what they already know to do with children...some of whom are the worst apathetic and careless young people in the country.   But, what does the Board of Trustees really care about educating children, raising citizenship and invoking a love of learning?  Nothing.  Because, after all, what does any of that have to do with making money?  Personal profit is the Board members' personal goals as evidenced by the recurring "almost" improprieties that continue to come to light.  The Board's fancy footwork along ethical boundaries rivals that of the Houston Ballet dancers' fanciest pirouettes.  You want to fix HISD's problems.  Throw out the trash and replace them with teachers who have at least 10 years of classroom experience and who have not been out of the classroom for more than 2 years.  These are the fixers.  Teachers are the smartest people in the educational system.  They know what to do and how to get it done.  Anybody been in a classroom lately?  If you don't believe me...just pay a visit.  Teachers are miracle workers of the finest kind. 

anonymouse
anonymouse

Well played, Miz E!  Your Teaparty supporters, Bob Perry and Richard Weekley should be well pleased.  You give the third party audit to another wealthy friend, they make more money and thanks to the Teaparty, not pay any taxes.  Or maybe your other  backer, Leo Linbeck III could find time to do it in between building KIPP schools?  Well played.  Don't point any fingers because a finger or two might point back at you. 

Stellar.  Maybe President Rick Perry will make you the Education Secretary.

Taxpaying Voter
Taxpaying Voter

I agree with Ms Eastman. The public has lost confidence in the Board for so many reasons. Helping friends make money at taxpayer expense is inexcusable as is hiring an incompetent superintendent.

Education Grrrrl
Education Grrrrl

Hey!  Maybe the teachers could be the third party auditing group!  We can tell right from wrong and we need the money!  How 'bout that Ms. Eastman?

JaneDoe
JaneDoe

Anna is a terrific and very honest board member. Thank you Anna for standing up and saying "enough"

Nofwfs
Nofwfs

NO! NO! NO!  Not a THIRD PARTY!!!  Not more money paid on overpaid consultants!@6b73e93e9a0ee8d59ac474e590028f47:disqus Please, just common sense and pay attention!  Why can't Trustee Eastman point her finger?  Oh right---because we have no discipline in HISD---no one wants to be politically incorrect and step forward and say "WTF is going on here?" 

We can no more discipline our students in our classes and apparently the trustees can't even discipline themselves or each other without hiring expensive help. 

 Does Trustee Eastman hire a "third party" for her own family matters?  Maybe she does, but that would mean she has money to throw around, just like she plans to do with HISD taxpayers' hard-earned cash.

Here's an HISD teacher's take on discipline in HISD....maybe we should just say "Children First" and let everyone find their inner child and help themselve to as much money and whatever classroom enviroment feels right.  After all, no one on the board or at Central Office seems to want to be an adult anymore:

http://jessealred.livejournal....

Blue7
Blue7

Illegal? Maybe not.

Unethical? Well, who cares about ethics when there's money to be made?.

Look, I don't really care about Paula Harris's friends, Larry Marshall's business contacts, orAnna Eastman's conscience. What I care about are all of the exceptional teachers whohave been treated like garbage after decades of real public service. Let the thieves on theschool board steal all they want (they've been doing it for years), but how are you goingto replace human beings who actually cared about teaching kids? I mentored TFA interns for nearly twenty years, and some were great, but having a great teacher for two or three years doesn't compare to having a great teacher for twenty-five or thirty years. 

There's a special place in hell for superintendents and board members who've f----- overstudents and teachers while padding their own pockets and telling everybody they're "in it for the kids." 

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