Reaction by Texas lawmakers to TEA audit are mixedState representatives Marisa Marquez, center, and Naomi Gonzalez talked with new Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams in 2012. Getthefacts (Times file photo)State audit: Texas Education Agency can’t spot cheating AUSTIN Texas legislative leaders offered mixed views Friday on whether further investigations are needed into a State Auditor’s Office finding that the Texas Education Agency has been unable to ferret out school cheating.State Sen. Dan Patrick, http://www.getthefacts.nu chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he is considering whether to convene an interim investigation into the findings and whether the agency’s response has been sufficient.”I am shocked,” said the Houston Republican, who will challenge incumbent Lt. Gov. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Hilfiger David Dewhurst in the GOP primary next spring. “If it’s not TEA’s job to detect cheating, whose is it?”But the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, Jimmy Don Aycock, R Killeen, said he would leave it to Education Commissioner Michael Williams and the education agency to look for cheating, which he believes is “not real common.””It’s going to be up to him,” Aycock said, adding that it was an overwhelming responsibility. “I think to monitor 1,000 plus districts? Tommy Hilfiger Jacket It’s not going to happen.”
The state auditor’s report was released to the public Friday, but the El Paso Times received and reported on an advance copy a day earlier.The audit investigated why the education agency initially found no wrongdoing in the El Paso Independent School District even though then state Sen. Getthefacts Eliot Shapleigh provided the agency with evidence of cheating starting in 2010.The audit, which was requested by Williams after he became commissioner last year, determined that the education agency did not have an effective system for catching cheating in EPISD or elsewhere. “Several high level agency administrators stated that it was not their responsibility to identify and analyze information that may indicate systemic cheating designed to circumvent federal accountability requirements,” http://www.getthefacts.nu the State Auditor’s office said in its report.In response to the audit, the education agency announced it would create an Office of Complaints, Investigations and School Accountability that would be in charge of gathering complaints and investigating them.TEA spokesman Gene Acua said that Williams is committed to hiring someone with prosecutorial experience to run the office before the end of the year. Funds to staff the operation will have to be found within the agency’s existing budget since the Legislature won’t consider a new one until 2015, Acua said.Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed Williams last year, is confident that the reforms will be sufficient, his spokesman said.”If there is ever any evidence of unethical or illegal acts found within our schools, the governor expects the TEA to take actions it deems necessary in order to restore the integrity of our educational system,” Perry’s spokesman, Josh Havens, said in an email. Tommy Hilfiger Hoodie “We are confident that Commissioner Williams’ actions send the clear message that these types of abuses will not be tolerated and those who perpetrate them will be held accountable.”
In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Williams said TEA’s inability to detect cheating was a result of failures of leadership by his predecessor, Robert Scott, Getthefacts who was appointed by Perry in 2007. Scott has not responded to requests for comment from the Times.Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor, also believes Texas’ school cheating problems are being adequately addressed, a spokesman said.”Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is confident that the changes made by TEA and the related legislation passed during the most recent session will address the concerns going forward,” his spokesman, Andrew Barlow, said in an email.Jason Embry, http://www.getthefacts.nu a spokesman for House Speaker Joe Straus, R San Antonio, said Straus was traveling Friday and unavailable for comment.Lawmakers’ opinions are divided over how much cheating will be found if the state creates an effective apparatus to investigate it.Patrick, the Senate Education Committee chairman, said he believes that cheating is occurring in only “a thimbleful” of the public schools that serve 5.1 million Texas students.”That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look,” he said. “A parent should never have to worry that their child goes to a school where educators cheat kids to benefit themselves.”The audit report said the former leadership of the Texas Education Agency improperly limited the scope of the EPISD investigation, improperly limited the complaints it would investigate and devoted insufficient resources to the probe. It also found that the agency didn’t follow is own rules for investigations.State Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D El Paso, said she believes that a more vigilant education agency would find cheating that is widespread. Tommy Hilfiger Shirts “I guarantee you that this is happening in every metropolitan area and in many other places,” she said.