HISD official out after investigation into son's employment

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An internal HISD investigation, prompted by a Chronicle inquiry, has sent a top HISD official packing:

The Houston school district’s chief school administrator agreed Friday to retire and repay the $63,000 her son was paid for consulting work that an HISD investigation has found violated state laws and district policies.

Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said in a written statement that Margaret Stroud “made critical errors in judgment in this case, and she will be held accountable.”

All the evidence in the case will be turned over to Harris County prosecutors for possible criminal investigation, he said.

The school district’s inquiry into Stroud and the contracts awarded her son, Darren Fulton, began three weeks ago after the Houston Chronicle requested information on the arrangement.

On Friday, Inspector General Robert Moore released his 34-page report that details the efforts to get Fulton on the Houston Independent School District payroll despite his criminal record and policies intended to stop administrators from giving jobs to their relatives.

The findings also are prompting a call from Saavedra for more oversight of outside vendors and the HISD employees who sign off on their checks.

Stroud, 58, had been responsible for running all of HISD’s 304 campuses and earned $158,000 annually. She came to the district as a sixth-grade teacher in 1968 and had been mentioned last year as a candidate for superintendent after Kaye Stripling’s retirement.

Stroud accepted Saavedra’s retirement and restitution offer after seeing the investigation report, he said.

Good for the Chronicle, asking questions about the employment arrangement and good for HISD, responding in a very straightforward and firm way to the investigation’s findings.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.