Mainstream media shines spotlight on CCISD special ed busing debacle

Incompetence. Arrogance. Cowardice. Corruption.

These are all words that accurately describe CCISD and its leadership. However, rarely are all of these characteristics on display at once.

But that’s exactly the special treat we received last Thursday courtesy of Fox 26 Houston, which aired a news report covering how, despite now being three weeks into the 2019-20 school year, nearly two dozen CCISD special education students still do not have bus routes to transport them to and from school.

To recap previous posts, over the summer, the special ed bus routes supposedly disappeared from CCISD’s software systems, resulting in no bus transportation plans for 285 CCISD special ed students to start the school year.

In an email sent Aug. 22, Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith said it was unclear whether human error or software error was to blame.

But in classic CCISD “Nothing to see here!” style, CCISD is managing this fiasco with about as much urgency and attention to detail as former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Watch the Fox 26 Houston news report below, and then see our analysis of the report:

0:15 – Note that Fox 26 Houston Reporter Maria Salazar naturally chose to position herself in front of what presumably is a CCISD school bus parking lot. However, unfortunately for CCISD, she chose a location where the fence is guarding that parking depot. The fence protecting the buses behind her appears ready to fall down. A coincidence perhaps, but highly indicative of the emphasis (or lack thereof) CCISD places on maintaining and protecting its buses.

0:40 – Michelle Hudson, grandparent of an affected special ed student, aptly notes that, once again, CCISD’s incompetence has had a disproportionately negative effect on special ed students. Time and time again, whether it is the “three-year plan” to implement much-needed Gibson Report reforms, or numerous lawsuits from special ed parents, CCISD just can’t be trusted to competently manage a special ed program. (With a years-long track record of doing wrong by special ed students, it is inexplicable that CCISD hasn’t launched an initiative to completely overhaul its special ed program, beginning with a special ed czar with full control over the program, reporting directly to the Board of Trustees.)

1:02 – Hudson says that her daughter-in-law has been calling CCISD daily to try to get answers about the lack of special ed busing, but that no one returned her phone calls until the day before the Fox 26 Houston report aired. Great customer service by CCISD. Although our sources say Hudson’s family isn’t alone: Clearly Corrupt has received numerous reports of buses across the district that been consistently late, or not showing up at all, on all routes. (When you start the school year 20 bus drivers short, that suggests there might be some service problems.)

1:11 – Describing CCISD’s response to her daughter-in-law, Hudson says, “They have no answers for her and they still don’t know what the solution is.” Excellent crisis management, yes? When an organization’s mission is to educate children, and three weeks into the school year a sizable segment of arguably its most vulnerable population of students is still not being provided with transportation to even get to school, that’s about as bad as it gets.

1:25 – It is quite rich that Smith was willing to sign his name to an email explaining and apologizing for the special ed busing problems, but when it’s time to talk to television news, where is Smith? Nowhere to be found. Instead, it’s Elaina “Domino Effect” Polsen sent out to take the hit. Yes, in the media relations world, that’s what a PR flack is paid to do. But true leadership means having the courage and integrity to be the person who accepts blame and responsibility when things go wrong. It’s clear from this sad display that neither Smith nor any of his lackeys possess those attributes.

1:30 – After telling the reporter that “this busing crisis is almost over,” Polsen says on camera, “We are remorseful and regretful that this has even occurred to any of our special education families.” So CCISD, according to Salazar, admits that it’s a crisis? That would seem to be progress. But notice Polsen’s perhaps inadvertent choice of words: she doesn’t say CCISD regrets that this happened, she seems to intimate that CCISD regrets that it occurred to them to complain about it! Polsen’s next statement gets cut off so it’s impossible to have enough context to know her intent for sure, but listen to that line again and ask yourself, what does CCISD really regret?

1:41 – Salazar says CCISD said the cause of the problem was a glitch between two software programs, one “that happened over the summer while staff was away.” So those naughty software programs did this all by themselves, and no person at CCISD could possibly be responsible? Doubtful. You can almost smell the lack of accountability from here.

1:52 – Polsen says this is not their expectation, and that CCISD will continue to work to regain the trust of the special ed students and parents, presumably. If that’s true, then CCISD sure does have a lot of work to do.

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