By Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
Houston- A community activist group is taking the concerns about HISD and public trust to the next level.
Activists want answers to pressing questions and issues regarding whether Dr. Terry Grier and the Houston Independent School District violated the public trust impacting the education of African-American and other poor and disadvantaged children.
One group, the People Hold the Purse, have taken that question to door steps of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Office of Public Integrity in an effort to determine whether laws has been violated.
“This is serious and we want answers,” said Activist Loretta Brock, leader of People Hold the Purse. “We feel that Superintendent Terry Grier and his administration has violated the public trust and his actions have not been in the full interest of our children, the public and taxpayers.”
The Public Integrity Division investigates all public servants who commit crimes under the characterization of their job. These cases can be some of the most sensitive and important cases that come thru the District Attorney’s Office.
In a statement, Public Relations Officer Jeff McShan said it is the function of the Harris County Public Integrity Division to investigate and prosecute any type of offense committed by a public official or public servant acting under color of law, except those handled by the Police Integrity Division.
These crimes include, but are not limited to, theft by a public servant, frauds, perjury, bribery, tampering with government records, official oppression and official misconduct. The division shall be responsible for investigation and prosecution of violations of the Election Code.
This division investigates police officers, jailers, elected officials, school superintendents, principals and teachers, for example.
All of the investigations into school districts and their employees, who may have committed fraud or theft and therefore, stole from taxpayers, are handled by the division.
People Hold the Purse filed the complaint late last month and currently is asking members of the community who feel that the public trust is an issue in the Grier administration to step forward, speak up with specifics so the issues and concerns can be reviewed.
Terry Grier became the Houston Independent School District’s superintendent of schools after a unanimous vote of the district’s Board of Education in September 2009.
He is under fire in the community over his alleged failure to sit down with community activists across the table to dialog and share real concerns and ideas and insights about decisions on school closings, spending, bond issue appropriation and other spending and operations in HISD schools.
The finger-pointing on both sides has the community in limbo and children and their education caught in the middle.
Gauging violations through public integrity investigations is another way to give the community a voice when citizens suspect that the trust is being misused or abused.
A similar complaint case involving public integrity has Texas Governor Rick Perry in hot water.
In Travis County, Perry was indicted by a grand jury last Friday on charges he abused his office and tried to coerce an elected official to resign. At issue, is a threat Perry followed through with to veto funding to an anti-corruption agency.
Perry vetoed $7.5 million for the Public Integrity Unit after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following a 2013 drunk driving arrest. The anti-corruption agency is part of the district attorney’s office.
Lehmberg declined to quit, and Mr. Perry carried out the veto in June of last year.
The longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry faces felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The first charge carries a maximum punishment of five to 99 years in prison, while the second could lead to two to 10 years behind bars.
Perry is not seeking re-election, has vowed to fight the charges calling the felony counts “baseless political charges” and an “indictment that is nothing short of an attack on the constitutional powers of the office of governor.”
She believes that corruption and wrongdoing at any level must be exposed and dealt with to the fullest extent of law and said Grier and HISD is no different.
“We are confident that the truth is going to come out,” she said. “Our children and our communities deserve better.”
Complaints are on “hold” status in this office for 30 days. If the requested data is not received to the office within that time period, the complaint is dismissed.
Brock is calling on citizens to contact her as soon as possible to get the official form needed to submit with the paperwork to officials in the public integrity unit.
For more information contact Brock at People Hold the Purse at 832-572-2521.