Dolcefino Consulting has been forced to file a formal criminal complaint to the Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, seeking phone records from five Houston School Board Members.
“Since March of 2016, we have repeatedly asked H.I.S.D Board Members to follow the same rules as elected officials all over the State of Texas,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
Detailed phone records of their governmental communications are clearly public records. Sadly, the HISD Board Members have refused to act as elected officials all across the state of Texas. That refusal now requires Dolcefino Consulting to pursue enforcement of the Texas Public Information Act by the newly elected District Attorney.
Texas law requires the complaint of intentional withholding to be filed against the custodians of public records at H.I.S.D, in this case Attorneys representing H.I.S.D, but Dolcefino Consulting has identified the public officials who refuse to provide the detailed records from their providers. The H.I.S.D. Board Members claim they are not required to get the records.
The Houston School Board Members identified in the complaint are Rhonda Skillern Jones, Manuel Rodriguez, Jolanda Jones, Wanda Adams, and Diane Davila.
In recent months, Dolcefino Consulting has represented neighborhoods fighting the renaming of public schools and the former Auditor of H.I.S.D, Richard Patton. Patton was fired after reporting possible illegal activities to School Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It is important to know that H.I.S.D. School Board Member Mike Lunceford voluntarily provided phone records to Dolcefino Consulting.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Houston Independent School District completed the retaliation against the Chief Internal Auditor Richard Patton for reporting criminal violations of law to the FBI.
Patton was informed by the H.I.S.D. Human Resources Department that his contract was not being renewed and he was sent home. This occurred just weeks after H.I.S.D announced Patton was returning to work after a nearly five-month long suspension.
“In early August, Richard Patton filed a whistle blower lawsuit against H.I.S.D because his first suspension was clearly an act of retaliation. The Houston School Board has now responded by adding insult to injury, says Attorney David Feldman of the law firm of Feldman and Feldman. “They have doubled down on the retaliation, and their campaign to silence the public’s watchdog.”
In March, Patton was first suspended by H.I.S.D. under the guise he had a staffer scan some personal documents over a two-year period, even then it was obvious what the
real motivation was.
On more than one occasion, Patton had discussed possible public corruption with police and federal agents. The suspension in March also followed Patton’s discovery of possible criminal wrongdoing in HISD administration of JOC contracts. The reporting to the FBI was intentionally left off H.I.S.D. bond reports.
HISD hired a law firm to investigate Patton, but after a $17,000 investigation, HISD brought Patton back to work. On his brief return, Patton was effectively silenced, the ability to conduct sensitive investigations removed.
In silencing Patton, the District has also deprived the public of the fundamental right to know about the use of their tax money.
Richard Patton’s treatment by H.I.S.D has already led Houston State Senator Paul Bettencourt to call for a statewide inspector general to conduct investigations of School Board Members.Letter to Texas Sen. Bettencourt
By now Houston taxpayers know the Houston School Board likes to keep secrets, and control what we find out.
That is why they punished their auditor for doing his job. That is why they hide internal investigations. Now, it’s why they won’t let the public see their business phone records, and that is why they outright lie on what things will cost, and where the money will come from.
After all the media is so annoying, and those pesky little taxpayers, they don’t really understand how smart these politicians really are.
The new school year is here and those names have been changed on the schools. Can’t you just see the difference in the children’s little faces?
Taxpayers had asked Judge Bill Burke to stop the renaming and destruction of historical buildings until the Texas Education Agency could investigate. But Judge Burke seemed annoyed that these pesky little taxpayers were doing exactly what the law told them they should do. He made it clear he had no intention of stopping the renaming, and seemed confused as to what the big deal was that HISD lied about how much it would cost and lied about where the money would come from.
Maybe Judge Burke should read up on the Texas Open Meetings Act. That pesky little law that makes it illegal for a government agency to violate transparency rules, and even worse, requires the government to actually tell the public in advance not only what they are doing, but what it will cost. You would think Judge Burke should understand about taxpayer’s money, because that is where his salary comes from, but after watching the hearing you can tell he was just annoyed. If he had followed the law, it wouldn’t matter what the vote was about. He played politics. So remember his name next election day.
The HISD Board then held another vote on the school renaming with an estimated price tag attached at $1.25 million dollars. Two school board members who voted no the first time, voted yes this time, citing the fact that the decision had already been made. Some of the name changes were already on the schools. That’s why it matters Judge Burke. A rubber stamp doesn’t fix the violation. It compounds it. You owed these taxpayers better.
This week Visiting Judge John Wooldridge signed the order denying the injunction for his buddy Judge Burke, even though Judge Wooldridge didn’t even hear the case. And they call that justice.
So we buried the lead.
HISD has released another document breaking down the cost of each school name change, something they refused to do before the actual vote. A trickle of transparency, even though it no longer matters, does it.
The most expensive school to change will be Reagan they claim. $304,000.
HISD will spend $265,000 to change Davis, where 96% percent of the student population is economically disadvantaged.
HISD claims it will only cost $133,320 to change Sidney Lanier, even though they have to carve the name out of a 90- year old building, tear up the hallway and replace every seat in the auditorium. Lanier Parents think the cost is more like half a million dollars, and HISD does admit this is just an estimate. What’s a few hundred thousand more wasted dollars when you’re HISD?
The cost of the new uniforms are a measly $270,000 dollars. Forget we could have bought classroom supplies for teachers who had to beg on Facebook for paper and pencils.
Ask the little kids if the name change will better prepare them for the future? Odds are they don’t give a darn what the school name is.
They are like Judge Burke, who clearly didn’t give a darn whether the government followed the law in the way they spent taxpayer money.HISD School Renaming Costs
The HISD School Board meets Thursday at 5:00 p.m. Unless taxpayers and parents stop them, they are going to waste 1.245 million dollars to rename a handful of schools. This is money which could better be served for buying library books, new computers. It is money they could use to rehire the special education employees they just got rid of. It is money they could use to buy classroom supplies.
So Dolcefino Consulting has an offer. Let our company raise the money to do something smarter. Something that will actually educate our children and won’t cost taxpayers money.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting offered to put up the first $1,000 in a fundraising campaign to erect plaques in the front halls of the effected schools.
“I have a great idea. Let’s have a contest in each of the schools,” says Wayne Dolcefino. “The student who wins the writing contest gets to put the letter on the plaque. A letter that can talk about the insanity of slavery, and the complicated history of these men. The business community can help raise the money to pay for the plaques. And HISD can save that money to spend on something that actually prepares our children for the future.”
Parents and taxpayers are demanding that HISD reveal the cost of each school individually, provide the documents detailing the cost, and vote on each school separately.
The HISD School Board meets tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Maybe these public servants will reconsider this before Thursday? Maybe they will take us up on the offer?
Maybe the Mayor can join us in calling for a better use off our taxpayer dollars. After all, this is about the kids isn’t it?
The Houston Independent School District’s chief auditor Richard Patton was allowed to return to work Wednesday, five months after the board suspended him for alleged misconduct and ordered an investigation. READ MORE
HISD has ordered Chief Internal Auditor Richard Patton back to work after a nearly five- month suspension.
Wednesday morning, HISD released a short statement announcing Patton’s return.
“August 3, 2016—HISD Chief Audit Executive, Richard Patton has been directed to return to duty from reassignment to home duty. HISD has resolved the issues related to his temporary reassignment. Mr. Patton received written confirmation from HISD to return to his responsibilities as Chief Audit Executive, effective August 3, 2016.”
HISD owes Patton a public apology. They also owe Houston taxpayers a full explanation. Don’t hold your breath.
HISD hired an outside counsel to investigate Patton. You paid for the report, but HISD wants to keep it secret.
How come? Does it show that Patton’s sterling reputation was damaged by HISD Board Members who punished him for doing his job.
This afternoon, the law firm of Feldman and Feldman issued a strong response. Former Houston City Attorney David Feldman is Patton’s Attorney.
“HISD owes Richard Patton a public apology. The District ordered him back to work today after an almost five-month suspension, following an unnecessary investigation by outside counsel that obviously proved what we have said from the start – Mr. Patton was punished for doing his job protecting the taxpayers.
HISD now refuses to show the public the costly investigative report they paid for, or to meaningfully address the grievance filed by Mr. Patton, who has alleged his suspension was in retaliation for reporting violations of law to HISD police and the FBI.
We have been told that HISD has reduced Mr. Patton’s responsibilities, trying to further silence the man who is supposed to be your watchdog.”
The public should demand to know what will happen to all the investigations that were underway. It is totally unacceptable for any HISD Board Members to try and silence the watchdogs hired to protect tax payers money.
Parents are watching. So are we.
Dolcefino Consulting is the investigative communications firm run by long time investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino.
A complaint filed this week by the suspended chief audit executive of the Houston Independent School District raises red flags about the integrity of the school board, and in particular, Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.
Audit executive Richard Patton was suspended in March for reasons that were unclear until this week, when Patton included the suspension paperwork with his complaint.
The facts Patton lists in his complaint are plenty to demolish the stated reasons for his suspension; they also raise two possible real reasons why he suddenly became persona non grata. READ THE REST