First off, I think it’s a bit silly to have to prove my “Katy, Texas credibility” to anyone. I believe my story is valid whether I’ve lived here my whole life, or whether I moved here from another country last year. As it turns out I have lived here nearly my whole life, and I have a long resume of involvement in Katy schools, non profits, and businesses. I only mention this because I have people asking “who I am” as if somehow I may not belong here, or am an outsider. So, if it matters to you, and it shoudn’t, this is who I am.
Over the last 4 years my children have had many problems with their schools that I met with Katy ISD administrators and Katy ISD police to try and resolve. Most of these issues were not resolved to my satisfaction, so I began recording my interactions with administrators and teachers.
As I began recording, I started to see patterns in how the school operates when cases of assault and bullying are brought to their attention. In 5th grade, some time after my son’s older brother passed away, children began making fun of him about it, and despite my son asking for teacher intervention, there was none, until one day it escalated, and my son picked up a pair of scissors to scare the boy who made fun of his brother for dying. We were brought in to meet with the counselor and principal, and despite the children in the school being aware of my older son passing, the principal and counselor claimed they were unaware of his death. They never spoke with my son about his brother after we took him out of school for excused bereavement, nor did they try to understand the reason behind him picking up a pair of scissors until we were in the room with them. We explained what was going on at home, that he was dealing with the loss of his brother, and felt that the school was not a safe environment for our child. We decided to take our son out of this school to finish 5th grade online, and try again in Junior High the next year.
In Junior High, my son was targeted by a few different students. I requested assault charges to be filed against a boy that kicked my son on the bus, that were never filed, despite multiple requests. A thief who stole my son’s phone, after being charged for theft, was put back in my son’s class, at his very table, to retaliate against him and bully him until we intervened. When my son was the victim of bullying, and brought it to his teacher’s attention, the teacher ignored it, and told my son how “his behavior makes him a target”. My son was hit in the face in the hallway, and responded by punching his attacker, and despite the principal watching the video and stating that there was no provocation by my son, they were both punished. I have almost all of these interactions with the principals and teachers recorded, but I recently posted one interaction with his teachers in part 1 and part 2 of a parent-teacher conference. After this, my son received retaliation from teachers, to the point that we decided to remove him from public school, and place him in private school at the end of 2017.
In January of 2018, after years of participating with the WatchDogs program at multiple Katy ISD schools, I was kicked out of the program by my son’s Elementary Principal. The program is designed to increase the presence of male role-models for the children in our schools, and I took issue with how little time was actually spent with children. Only 30 minutes were ‘allowed’ in the classroom. The first time I volunteered at this school, in late 2017, I spent an hour unpacking boxes in a back room. I gave feedback to the organizers letting them know that I felt that the schedule did not follow the mission of the program and that I would prefer that my time at the school be spent doing things that fall within the mission of the program. Many other schools where I volunteered as a WatchDog had me engaging with students the entire day.
January 23 – The second time I volunteered for Watchdogs at this same school, an administrator came into the room and informed me that I was suppose to go to the instructional room to unpack boxes. I politely explained my position, that I would be happy to leave the classroom if she wished, and I could find a corner to sit and work until they needed me, but I did not sign up to unpack boxes in a back room, and wished to only do tasks that fulfill the purpose of the program that I signed up for. I felt this odd feeling, like I was being treated like an employee, not a parent volunteer graciously giving their time. It was very strange.
That same evening, I received an email from my son’s principal, informing me that my services were no longer needed in their WatchDogs program. I asked to have a meeting with him, and upon the conclusion of that meeting, I put together a short video, which I kept unlisted on Youtube (so only those with the link could find it) and sent it to the School Board, to get their opinion.
Here is the message I sent to the 7 school board members.
And here is the video I sent them.
At this time, ABetterLegacy.com simply forwarded to a google form for others with similar issues to fill out, so we could come together. I planned on sharing this video on my Facebook page, as a call for anyone else with similar issues to come forward and discuss how we could change the way parents were treated, not just in this instance, but based on my years of issues with Katy ISD. At this point, the website was not public.
My older son experienced what I call ‘petty tyrants’ bullying him, punishing him for his mistakes, but when he was the victim, they covered for his abusers. My problem was not that I was kicked out of the WatchDogs program, my issue was the attitude of petty tyranny that I’m seeing more and more across Katy ISD schools. If a volunteer doesn’t want to dig a hole, you say thank you anyway, because they are a volunteer, not an employee. We deserve basic respect. I was concerned that my younger son was now facing a similar school culture as my older son, and I was hoping that I could get some help from the Katy ISD school board to meet about this, discuss the issue, receive some validation for my frustration, and let me know how we could partner in helping improve our schools.
Days later, I received a response to my email from Courtney Doyle, the vice president of the school board:
I immediately responded to Courtney:
This email was sent to Courtney on 2/6/2018. I received no response after this. At this point, I just wanted some validation that I was correct – the purpose of the program was not to unpack boxes, it was something, in my opinion, slipped in by the school to throw the less desirable jobs to the volunteers. And with so many volunteers willing to unpack boxes, why argue this point? I wanted validation. I wanted them to understand where I was coming from, and to say that they would speak with the administrators and work on how volunteers and parents could be treated better.
And then, 8 days later on 2/14/2018, Nickolas Cruz opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School. A school that two of my employees attended. This hit me really hard. Here I was with evidence of my own son being bullied and targeted by not only students, but also teachers, and when issues are brought up, they are swept under the rug. Nickolas Cruz was bullied to. That is when I decided I had to speak at the next school board meeting. ABetterLegacy.com still had not gone public.
On February 19th, at 6:00pm, I signed up to speak, about thirty minutes before the work study school board meeting started. I was given a slip of paper to put my name, address, and specific topic I would be covering. I wrote down ‘bullying’ as my topic. I was informed that somebody would be coming to speak to me about my topic, which I found odd.
“It’s people like you that I want to hear from” – Bonnie Holland
Bonnie Holland was very nice. I believe she was just doing her job, and I don’t blame her for it. But, over the next month, I left 4 voicemails with her secretary, as she asked me to do, to arrange a time to meet and discuss my issues. I never received a call back. I like to think that her hands were tied, and she was being told not to call me back, as I believe she intended to have a conversation with me.
Hours later, it was my turn to address the board, and here is that video:
This is when ABetterLegacy went public. I shared my statement to the board on Facebook, and it was shared with others in our community. After receiving thousands of views, I started receiving emails from many others in the community. These stories came from parents, bus drivers, parents, counselors and even principals. I was beginning to see a much worse picture than I had even imagined. Systematic retaliation for anyone who tried to report abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, special ed abuse, and on and on. The overall theme was, when someone disagrees with a procedure, that person is punished – just like when I disagreed with the WatchDogs schedule. Most were afraid to go on the record and share their stories for fear of retaliation, for their job, or for their children who go to Katy ISD schools. But not all.
One of the dozens of individuals who shared their story with me was Greg Barret (aka Greg Gay). When I first heard his story, my jaw dropped. He suffered more bullying than anyone I had ever spoken with. My heart hurt hearing the persistent torment he faced all through junior high, simply because his last name was ‘Gay’. I asked him how I could help him, and he said he wanted to speak to the school board. I shared with him the procedure, and gave him a few tips. When I asked him what he hoped to gain, he said he hoped for an apology from Dr. Lance Hindt, and hoped that Lance’s experience as a bully would give him an advantage in helping deal with the bullying problems in his schools. Greg said that after hearing my story he was inspired him to make his statement. At this point, nearly 30 days from my statement, had I received any communication at all, a phone call or a meeting, ANYTHING from the school board, or Dr. Lance Hindt, or any of the assistant superintendents, things may have turned out differently. If there was an open line of communication, I would have been happy to share this with Greg in hopes of him achieving his goals as well. There was no communication, only a 3 minute statement to the school board, so that’s where the message was shared.
I spoke before Greg. Here is the speech I had prepared for the March 19th school board meeting. At the last minute, I decided to cut it down to give the board about a minute to respond. There were claims that the reason they didn’t respond to me at the last meeting, was due to me taking up the entire 3 minutes. Below is the original speech I had prepared, and below, I made bolded the portion that I removed at the last minute.
A month ago I spoke here at the Work Study meeting, expressing my concerns about the safety of my children, and the students of this district. The response to my statement from this community has been overwhelming.
Students, parents, and teachers of Katy ISD shared their stories of victim-blaming, and negligence by the hands of administrators. Many asked that I not mention them by name for fear of retaliation, but not all.
The channels through which I shared last month’s statement, received over 100,000 views combined. Over 30,000 of these were seen by parents in this district. Hundreds of comments were made, and dozens of horrific stories were shared with me. For a point of reference, the ABetterLegacy Facebook page has more followers than the KatyISD Communications YouTube channel, and more followers than anyone currently running for school board.
Despite the chord my message has struck with the community, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears with this board, and with this administration. Before I spoke last month, I was approached by an administrator who tried to talk me out of speaking, telling me that this was not the place to discuss bullying. I was asked to instead reach out to her secretary and schedule an appointment to speak. While I insisted on speaking, I’ve also left 4 voicemails with the secretary of this administrator, and received not a single response from anyone in this administration or from the board, since my statement last month.
A Houston Chronicle article from 2012 titled:
“District gets tough with bullies” shares the district’s new approach to bullying.
In the article, O.D. Tompkins states:
“After implementing HB 1942, key actions include providing for the transfer of students who engage in bullying rather than just the victims” -Why then, When my Elementary son was bullied, and confirmed by an investigation, were we told the only option was to remove my son, not the bully.
“Under HB 1942, staff will be required to identify, respond to and report any incidents of bullying.” Why then was my junior high son ignored by his teacher when students took his food, opened it, and dumped it in his backpack. I met with this teacher, and she insisted that this is not bullying. I have the entire recording of this meeting on abetterlegacy.com.
“Students need to understand that they are not being tattletales when they report this activity,” Says Mr. Tompkins.
Why then did an administrator punish a student a couple weeks ago with “False Alarm of Terroristic Threat” when she voiced her concern about a threat of violence against her school. Thank you to Justin Graham for overturning that decision and letting this pre AP student return to school.
If you look at the organizational chart of this district, at the very top is the community. Below that is the board. Below that is the Superintendent.
I would like to know why our concerns about the safety of our children are not worthy of your response.
I encourage administrators, teachers, and students to do the right thing, and treat others with respect, especially those who don’t fit in. If nobody comes to the rescue, bullied children eventually turn inward or outward, suicide or violence towards others.
And if you won’t, if you instead choose to perpetuate the cycle of bullying, then know that you will be recorded, and you will be exposed.
You can find a wrist recorder just like this online for $40, it records up to 12 hours of audio. If you are being bullied, document it. If you need a platform, contact me.
I will continue sharing these stories on ABetterLegacy.com.
This gets a little complicated, so I hope I can explain it well. At 5:15pm, about an hour before the School Board Meeting started (2/19/2018) I received an email on behalf of the Deputy Superintendent. I arrived at around 5:00, and began chatting with two candidates running for school board, not noticing the email until maybe 5:45 or 6, I’m not sure.
The attachment began with this:
Below this was a list of the allegations I made at the last board meeting, with the conclusions of investigations they claim they conducted on these issues, concluding that every issue I brought up at last month’s meeting was either invalid, or fabricated. Again, no validation. And, their so-called “investigation” did NOT include a conversation with myself, or my son children. They did not ask me for evidence that I had to the contrary of what their employees reported. I can refute every claim they made, but for brevity, here’s the first allegation they investigated and concluded was false, as well as my evidence.
“Participated in various forms of horseplay” – I don’t think kicking my son in the back is horseplay. They are downplaying violence.
“AP made made several phone calls to you which were not returned, nor have you attempted to come by to view the video. The investigating officer also reached out to you and you did not return his call.”
That is a lie. I did return her call, scheduled a meeting, and my son and I both watched the video of his assault with his AP. So this is absolutely a lie by either the investigator, or the AP. I even referenced meeting with Mrs. Santos the very same day in my recording of the parent teacher conference. Jump to the statement about me watching the video by clicking here.
I also have recordings with the Katy ISD Officer many months after this all occurred, when I expressed my frustration with how difficult it has been to file charges. Much different story than KISD stated above. I trimmed this down to the permanent details for brevity. I have a lot more of these recordings.
Notice that I once again mentioned seeing the video of the altercation on the bus.
And here is a video shortly after the bus driver pulled the bus over, put her finger in my son’s chest, and told him it was his fault he was assaulted the day before, which the Deputy Superintendent said there was no evidence of it ever occurring.
Again, during this “investigation”, they never asked me for evidence. None. If there was ‘no video evidence’ of a poke, then maybe it happened below the seat, but it is dishonest to completely ignore that there was an altercation, and cherry-pick one single fact that they can plausibly deny. Or maybe “no evidence” simply means they deleted the footage? Still, very misleading.
The people responsible for the safety of our children, are flat out lying about events that occurred. Take a moment to think about that. Had they asked me for any evidence, I would have provided it, but they didn’t, they came up with their story, and claimed it as the truth. This is corruption against children. How many children are unfairly punished and don’t have evidence to support their claims? I can’t even imagine. If I didn’t have these recordings, most reasonable people would assume I am in the wrong.
The rest of the document was rife with typos and inaccuracies, as if it was done very quickly. Because I recorded every encounter with administrators, I have evidence to dispute every claim, but incase this ever goes to court, I want to keep some cards close to my chest. The above example is enough to make my case that they are not being honest.
So, I received this document from Katy ISD mere hours before speaking in front of the board for the second time, sat through the meeting, and waited for my turn to speak.
After I spoke, Dr. Hindt spoke up, told me to sit down, be quiet, and brought up one of the ‘check mate’ points from the document I received, as if it somehow invalidated my argument, which it did not. I asked the board if I could approach and respond, to which Dr. Hindt said “You had your three minutes” and I responded “I wasn’t asking you, I was asking the board”.
They all either looked at Dr. Hindt, or looked down. That’s when I realized who was in charge. Not the board, but Dr. Lance Hindt.
I was fuming, but I kept my composure and kept my camera steady on Dr. Hindt as the next speaker was announced: Mr. Greg Barrett. He had just witnessed Dr. Hindt bullying me, and he was not happy about it. He stated later that he didn’t intend to come across so aggressive, but after witnessing Dr. Hindt’s treatment seconds before he came up to speak, it upset him.
Video of Greg’s statement is below. There have been allegations by the Katy ISD President, Ashley Vann, that this video was ‘doctored’ – it was simply a combination of three camera angles, and the three different angles picked up different audio in the large room. Comments made off-mic are rarely heard on the Katy ISD official recording, but my three recordings from different sides of the room, picked up comments off mic. So, when Katy ISD says they reviewed the tape and heard something different, they are correct, because they reviewed the tape that limited audio to only what the live microphones picked up. My cameras included comments and laughs that were not picked up by the mics, but clearly heard from our seats. That’s not doctoring, that’s called getting the whole story. Zero “doctoring” occurred. Seems to be a common behavior, coming to a conclusion with very limited evidence, or only part of the story.
And then Greg Spoke:
To be continued…
In part 2: I will share the many stories of victims who bravely came forward as witnesses to Dr. Hindt’s bullying in not only junior high and high school, but also within the last couple of years under his leadership. Bus drivers, teachers, and parents who witnessed abuse, received abuse, and when they brought it to the attention of administrators they were targeted, blamed, and punished for speaking out. The next post will not be for the faint at heart. It deals with serious abuse against special ed children in Katy ISD schools, abuse that was ignored, and these teachers were simply shuffled around to other schools, to continue teaching, just like they did with Mr. Milton.
And, while the last few years could be argued as more of a reflection of our former Superintendent, Alton Frailey, I would have accepted that had this current administration come out and addressed these issues. Ignoring them does not give me hope that anything will be done.