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 financial cost to rename Houston schools has just grown…by MILLIONS.
The Houston School Board has voted to spend $5 million dollars to get new uniforms and athletic equipment for schools where the name is being changed. That is $5 million more than is usually spent.
“That’s money that could be spent on books, computers, even bonuses to attract teachers to troubled schools,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Taxpayers should demand this vote be rescinded until a proper documentation of all costs are given to the people who are paying the bill.”
It is the latest proof that the Houston School Board simply lied to taxpayers about the financial costs of this so called Confederate purging.
Perhaps HISD trustees would have voted differently if they hadn’t rushed to change the name of some schools without actually doing their homework.
Sidney Lanier was a private in the Confederacy, an anti-war poet who owned no slaves. Neither did Postmaster John Reagan. Tributes to him are part of the Heights landscape.
“He was never a slave owner and renounced slavery and felt all men should be treated equally, just like the Reagan family still feels today”, says Brian Reagan.
This is no longer a fight about history. This is a fight about our tax money. When HISD voted their resolution said this had no cost. Now we know $5 million just for athletic uniforms and equipment, and that is before we touch the schools.
Tell the truth HISD. And spend this money to help today’s kids, not settle old grievances.
RALLY 4 PM
The HISD School Board has been formally warned. Go ahead with Thursdays’ improper vote to change the name of 8 schools and get ready for a court fight.
In February, The HISD Board falsely claimed the renaming would cost nothing on the state required agenda.
“The reality is that renaming HISD schools will cost millions of taxpayer dollars”, says Houston Attorney Dan Goforth, “deceiving the public doesn’t protect our community, it harms our community.”
HISD e-mails have already exposed the plot by HISD Board Member Rhonda Skillern-Jones to keep the renaming plans secret until the last minute, even from other HISD Board Members.
Lanier Middle School parents have demanded a formal apology from Houston School Board Jolanda Jones, who falsely claimed she had e-mails showing kids who wanted to change the name of the 90-year old school were being bullied.
“To add insult to injury, the school board portrayed to the public that its choice for the proposed replacement names reflected community consensus”, says Goforth in his demand letter.”
Goforth also slams HISD for “cherry picking” schools to rename, veering from the stated goals of erasing the names of Confederate War Heroes.
“I want to congratulate HISD. In just a few weeks they have created racial tensions were none existed, have ignored the wishes of neighborhoods across Houston, and have been totally exposed for the sham this renaming process it,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Great lesson for our kids, isn’t it? Keep secrets from the people who elected you, and then attack parents and children who defend their neighborhood schools.”
Lanier Watchdogs, fighting to save the name of their 90- year old school named for a famed Southern poet, will be joined by parents, alumni, and community leaders from other targeted schools across the city in a protect rally before the scheduled vote. The rally will be held at 4:00 pm at Houston School District Headquarters.
“Should the Board affirm its defective renaming resolution at the meeting on May 12 th, 2016, my clients will initiate formal legal proceedings to invalidate the Board’s resolution and seek all
available remedies under the law.”
Media Interviews can be coordinated through Dolcefino Consulting 713-389-0810.
NEW E-MAILS EXPOSE HISD SECRECY IN RENAMING FIGHT
You think the public was scammed in the HISD school renaming mission?
It turns out even some elected HISD Board members were kept in the dark about the plans to rename HISD Schools, including Lanier Middle School.
On January 8, 2016, HISD Board Trustee Anna Eastman complained the item was only placed on the agenda “at the last minute.” “I am very disappointed at the lack of communication, to say the least.”
Apparently that last minute game was no accident, and the culprit is HISD Board Member Rhonda Skillern-Jones. In a January 11, 2016 e-mail she had a good chuckle at your expense. “LOL. I had to keep this under my hat and be strategic about it. Wouldn’t have made it to the agenda any other way.”
“Now that explains why HISD couldn’t possibly have done their homework on the cost of Ms. Jones master plan,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Busted.”
It is the latest evidence that HISD is simply lying when they claim the potential cost of renaming schools was well documented, even though they falsely told taxpayers there was no cost.
We already know just two days before the vote Huewitt didn’t even tell a board member exactly where the money to pay for this multi-million-dollar revenge plan would come from. That is kind of important, don’t you think, when HISD is $107 million dollars in the red?
Where is the beef, Superintendent Huewitt?
Let’s see the proof you knew what this would cost before you HISD casts a vote the community doesn’t want.
Parents are speaking out all across the city. HISD broke its own regulations, and should be forced to go back to the drawing board. Lanier Watchdogs say the cost at their school alone to erase the memory of the poet who has graced the school building for 90 years is $500,000 dollars.
You have to love e-mails because it also exposes Rhonda Skillern-Jones plans.
An e-mail to Skillern-Jones recommends a “concerted effort to destabilize or dismantle” the system in place under the last two school superintendents that supposedly harms at-risk communities (black and brown communities).”
Skillern-Jones response “I don’t see anything in your e-mail that I disagree with? Jones goes on to identify her plans to rename “Confederate” Schools.
Taxpayers will spend millions to help Ms. Jones carry out her plans.
Ask yourself, how exactly does spending millions of dollars on this help at-risk kids? That money could buy computers, library books, technology and lots of other stuff.
Apparently that is not what this is really all about, is it?
Lanier Watchdogs call on the community to call HISD Board Members to say NO.
The phone number at HISD Board Services is 713-556-6121.
FOX 26 KRIV reporter Greg Groogan reports on a school name change battle heats up with fraud allegation:
If the day comes when Sidney Lanier’s name is ripped off a 90-year-old building, it will be in the wake of a bruising battle.
“Do we really want to teach our kids that the way to get back at something that happened 150 years is revenge?,” asks Wayne Dolcefino, who is representing opponents of the name change. “Is that really the lesson we want?”
The one-time Confederate private, who never owned a slave, built modest renown in the post Civil War years as a poet preaching reconciliation. But that record didn’t keep Lanier Middle School off a list of Houston Independent School District campuses whose namesakes were deemed supporters of human bondage.
A parent group, known as Lanier Watchdogs, is fighting back claiming the school board lied to taxpayers by failing to properly research and reveal the expense involved with renaming campuses, in violation of district policy. READ THE REST
Parents at Sidney Lanier Middle School are outraged that HISD plans to ignore its own regulations and move forward to improperly change the name of their school. Sidney Lanier middle school has a rich ninety-year historical traditional and incredibly close ties with the community.
“Let me be crystal clear, we have put HISD on notice that they have already violated their own regulations, and if they try to proceed with this improper name change now there will be serious
consequences”, says HISD parent Ron Kahanek.
HISD voted 5-4 to change the name of Lanier Middle School in February. Under their own regulations, the HISD Board failed to disclose the cost and the source of funding in the original
resolution. Ninety percent of the Lanier Community has overwhelmingly voted they want the name to remain the same.
Lanier parents say the cost of changing the Sidney Lanier name will cost up to $500,000 dollars.
“This is not just a fight about the reputation of a famous Southern poet anymore,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “At the end of the day, this is a school board
taking away the rights of the neighborhoods and breaking their own laws. Taxpayers need to remember the name of every HISD Board Member who is prepared to throw away millions of dollars that could be used to buy library books and computers to satisfy the personal vendettas of a couple of board members.”
Sidney Lanier was a poet famed for his works on peace. He owned no slaves. He was no war hero. The school sits in a neighborhood where many of the streets are named after literary figures, such as Kipling, Hawthorne and Montrose. His literary achievements earned him a place in the neighborhood and it deserves to remain.
“Parents and taxpayers should decide on the names of their neighborhood schools, not temporary politicians, and the names shouldn’t be used to exact revenge or for some political agenda.”
“I knew Bob Lanier. He was a good man and a great Mayor, but I believe he would be fighting with us against this outrage if he was alive today,” says Dolcefino. “Mayor Bob wouldn’t want
to be used as a political pawn just because he has the same last name.”
A regulation passed in 2012 requires the School Board to identify the actual cost of money being spent, regardless of where the funds are coming from. Records show the HISD Board
resolution in February 2016 to rename Lanier and other schools showed there was 0 cost on the resolution.
That was not only false, but it violates HISD regulations.
The regulation also requires HISD to identify the funding source, and the exact dollar must be shown within “parentheses following the statement of total cost.”
“HISD has no choice under the law, but to vote again,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Of course, the district would be required to conduct a full financial
assessment and then identify in the agenda, the actual cost and where the money will come from.”
Lanier Watchdogs, the parent’s group formed to fight the name change, says changing the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School alone will cost $500,000, including the removal of concrete
carving from the historic school building and initials from the old seats in the auditorium.
“The HISD Board expects children to follow the rules and there is punishment when they don’t so here is a great opportunity to practice what they preach,” says Dolcefino. “Of course the
smartest course is to let neighborhoods decide if they want their schools renamed.”
What a concept!
RELEASE BACKUP HISD 2
Lana Shadwick of Breitbart Texas writes how changing the name of just one middle school in Texas will cost Houston taxpayers $500,000. Now some Houston taxpayers are not happy about the cost of the name change, and some former students, parents of students, and current students at the middle school are not happy about the name change either:
Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting told Breitbart Texas, “The real irony is that HISD Trustees say the renaming of Sidney Lanier is being done to improve public support of HISD.” He added, “No one asked for this, and it is clear the neighborhood is vehemently opposed to changing the name of the school at all. This is destroying public support. Taxpayers deserve to know what this will cost.”
A parent activist group, Lanier Watchdogs, mobilized to fight the name change and say they are watching the costs that are now associated with the unwanted name change. They urge that Syndey Lanier was not an officer or a hero in the Civil War, he just fought to protect his land. He served when he was just 19 years old for five months and he was a private. His contribution in his life was as a writer and a musician. He loved to write poems. The school was named for him in 1926. READ MORE
Nearly three months ago, a slim majority of Houston School Board Members voted to rename Sidney Lanier Middle School.
Now we can prove HISD didn’t even investigate how much this unwanted decision would cost taxpayers.
HOUSTON PRESS COVERAGE: Angry Parents Say HISD Deceiving Taxpayers Over Cost of Lanier Name Change
On February 9th, two days before the vote, HISD Board Member Wanda Adams asked the Acting Superintendent by e-mail, “Have we looked at the budget cost for renaming schools?” The answer. “No, this is not a budgeted item.”
Two days later the HISD Board voted 5-4 to change the name without knowing any of the financial consequences. Look at the resolution they approved. It claims there would be NO COST.
Acting Superintendent Ken Hewitt was the Chief Financial Officer for HISD. He should know better.
Lanier Watchdogs, the parents group mobilizing to fight the unwanted name change, has done the math your elected officials refuse to do.
$275,000 just to carve out the name Sidney Lanier on the top of the school building, $60,000 more to re-do historic auditorium seats, $100,000 more in uniforms.
The total estimated price tag $474,000. Just one school. For a poet who only fought with his family to protect his land. Sidney Lanier wasn’t a hero or an officer in the Confederacy. He didn’t even own a slave.
HISD is a school district now $107 million dollars in the red. A school district that already squandered millions of dollars in the school bond program.
Tell your school board member a full investigation of the cost for renaming schools should happen before Sidney Lanier is touched. Enough is Enough.
“The real irony is that HISD Trustees say the renaming of Sidney Lanier is being done to improve public support of HISD,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “No one asked for this, and it is clear the neighborhood is vehemently opposed to changing the name of the school at all. This is destroying public support. Taxpayers deserve to know what this will cost.”
READ THE DOCUMENTS
HISD RELEASE SUPPORT