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NAACP eyes LISD policies

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By LPR Staff
Editor/Post-Register

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has made a request to examine some of the Lockhart Independent School District”s policies.
A letter from NAACP committee council M. Engin Derkunt of Austin dated July 1, 2005 requested thousands of pages of documents relating to the district”s managem

ent of a 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, as well as information on the district”s policy about contracting with for-profit and non-profit organizations. The request included all records regarding the 21st Century Grant from 2000 to 2005 and the district”s budget information and contracts for use of school facilities dating back to 1994.
Derkunt claimed that the request was made after allegations of racial discrimination, “crony-ism,” and misuse of grant funds were made to the NAACP by concerned citizens and parents.
“We don”t have any proof yet,” he said, “but if it turns out that these allegations are true, [we might] have to do some “housecleaning.”” Derkunt has not been specific as to the exact nature of the allegations.
“Those are all serious charges,” said Dr. John Hall, LISD superintendent. However, there is no internal investigation at this point, as there have been no specific charges.
In a memo to Hall regarding the request, the district”s custodian of records Tina Knudsen said she estimated the documents Derkunt requested could total up to 40,000 pages, taking no less than 40 man-hours to compile the documents. However, Derkunt said he is not certain the records are that extensive. However, the NAACP asked the district to waive their usual fees, in this case an estimated $6,000, to provide the information.
The board of trustees met on Monday evening to discuss waiving the fees.
It has been the past policy of the district not to waive fees for records requests, and the board stood by that policy on Monday, denying the fee waiver.
“I”m going to try to negotiate with the district to get just the [most informative records],” Derkunt said. “If they will not cooperate, we will have to consider court action.”
Hall pledged that the district would be as cooperative as they can, working within the guidelines of both representing the best interests of the district”s children and being “responsible stewards of the taxpayers” dollars.”
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant program was introduced as a component of President George W. Bush”s No Child Left Behind Act. The purpose of the grants is to provide opportunities for children who attend low-performing schools. Services including tutorials, fine arts programs, recreation, counseling and drug and violence prevention programs are intended to be funded by the 21st Century Grants.
In unrelated board news, trustee at large Charles Kelly submitted a letter of resignation from the board over the weekend.
The trustees will meet on Thursday evening in the LISD Board Room at 6 p.m. to determine a course of action in filling Kelly”s seat, which would have come up for reelection in May.
The board can opt to appoint someone to fill the position, hold a special election to choose a new trustee

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