Waco ISD Board to hire firm to investigate procedures at Univers - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Waco ISD Board to hire firm to investigate procedures at University High School

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

On Monday, the majority of the Waco Independent School Board of Trustees voted to hire a law firm to investigate concerns regarding graduation plans, testing procedures and award of credits at University High School.

"We take these allegations very seriously and we want to ensure the process is thorough and also fair to all the parties so we've engaged an outside firm to help review the allegations and report to the board if there was any wrongdoing," WISD Board President Pat Atkins said.

The Board of Trustees voted 5-1 to hire Walsh Gallegos, Trevino, Russo & Kyle, P.C., which specializes in education issues, to conduct the investigation. Trustee Larry Perez was the only trustee who voted against it.

The allegations that will be investigated include changing of graduation plans of students and whether students were given the opportunity to retake non-standardized tests after failing.

"There are a number of possible outcomes. It may be that everything was done appropriately, it may be that internally we need clearer processes and policies to set out the district's expectations or it is possible there was wrongdoing ," Atkins said.

Three employees at University High School have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the inquiry. He said placing employees on leave during an investigation is not unusual in a campus investigation.

At this point, Atkins said the allegations, which surfaced during the last school board workshop meeting, are limited to University High School.

"We don't want it to reflect the district as a whole and once we have more information in a better position again to confidently say nothing was done wrong or we need to clarify some board policies and procedures about what's expected or there was wrongdoing that needs to be reported to Texas Education Agency or lastly there are personnel decisions impacted by this," Atkins said.

Atkins added the Texas Education Agency has been notified about the investigation.

On Monday afternoon, he planned to meet with the law firm to learn about the cost of the inquiry, which will be paid with money from the general fund.

Atkins said he hopes the investigation will be completed before the start of the next school year.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the concerns included allowing students to retake campus tests, which were not standardized, after they failed. According to Waco ISD, state guidelines allow multiple ways for a student to be certified for graduation, including retesting. However, in no case was a student allowed to take more tests than legally allowed.

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