|A CLOSER LOOK AT KATY ISD TECHNOLOGY
VENDOR C INNOVATION, INC.
HAS THE DISTRICT BEEN ZANGLED?
By Peyton Wolcott - May 3, 2006 - 5:00 a.m.
Several concerned friends around the state, including Katy ISD taxpayers,
sent me copies last week of an April 27 press release announcing Katy
ISD's purchase of yet more software, this time "ZANGLE" from an outfit
called C Innovation, Inc.
|Lenny Schad, Katy ISD Deputy
Leadership Katy ISD last year
|What do we know about ZANGLE?
According to this same April 27, 2006 press release at www.cinnovations.net
"ZANGLE currently manages data on approximately two million students in 200
school districts across the country."
No matter the formula C Innovation is using to do their billing, this represents
what we in Texas would call a chunka change.
Not much is available on C Innovation's website other than their contact
information in a Claremont, California office building roughly an hour east of
downtown Los Angeles. Where for example other companies might list a
plethora of employee contacts, all C Innovation offers is the name of their chief
operating officer Bill Naughtin, and that's in the April 27 press release.
|Downtown Claremont, Calif.
'The Village' shopping area
near Claremont Colleges--
and blocks from ZANGLE's
|What we now know about C Innovation, Inc.
It's a Delaware-based corporation, not surprising given that state's business-friendly
climate; in fact, this is precisely one of the issues our legislators are currently
discussing in Austin, how to force tax dollars from Texas' many businesses such as
computer giant Dell organized under the so-called Delaware Sub.
What's more unusual is that C Innovation's official Delaware-stated corporate address
turns out to be a single-family residence on a suburban street near a golf course in Salt
Lake City belonging to a Mr. Smith. (Really.) Further, C Innovation's agent for service of
process is Shelly Jay Shafron, an attorney in Encino, California, whom his secretary
said was "very busy" and could not talk.
According to the Delaware Department of State, C Innovation, Inc. has not filled out the
back of their annual report listing their officers, which should be noted is not required,
and another factor contributing to Delaware's business-friendly image. C Innovation's
registered agent, the Corporation Trust Company, only has a forwarding address on file
which they would not release.
|C Innovation, Inc. and
over the U.S. map
|C Innovation, Inc. appears to not be registered with either the California Secretary of State or with Utah's
Department of Commerce, a spokesman for which notes, "They should be registered with us; we are not a
policing agency so they cannot be forced to register with us although it is required." Further, C Innovation
similarly appears to not be registered with the Texas Secretary of State; as with Utah, "If they're doing business
here in Texas, they should be registered here in Texas with the Secretary of State." A Texas dba search under "C
Innovation, Inc." and "Zangle" also proved similarly fruitless. A spokesman for the California Secretary of State
had the same message, adding that their state attorney general would do the enforcing for non-reporting. I'm
using the term "appears to be" very carefully because it appears to be that this company does not invite much if
any scrutiny, as with the example of my attempted interview with their chief operating officer Bill Naughtin.
|Katy ISD where
"A-Plus is our middle
|"There's things about private companies that is really no one's business and we don't share those things," he
said, adding, "I have no reason to share things for no purpose." When asked how C Innovation came to sell its
product to Katy ISD, Naughtin said he had "no idea." When the subject of Education Research & Development
Institute conferences came up--Katy ISD supe Leonard Merrell is an ERDI consultant--Naughtin responded
that while his company had been an ERDI vendor for "many years," he had never met Merrell at any ERDI
conferences, which he felt had not "done anything for our business" and therefore stopped going, pointing out
that he'd prefer to focus on providing services to their customers. "We're very honest, open caring people, but
very suspicious of people who want quotes from us like newspapers who use those quotes oftentimes for the
negative." Which perhaps explains C Innovation's lack of Internet presence, surprising for a corporation doing
multi-million dollar business with public school districts. Because I could not agree to Mr. Naughtin's request
that his name and comments not appear in print, we rang off.
|The Great Texas Sultanate of Bidness Approval
Following up on Naughtin's reference to being on the state bidding list, I contacted the Texas Building &
Procurement Commission because while I've heard reference to this list often in the past, informally called the
vendor list or the approved vendor list, I realized I didn't really know what it means to be on such list.
According to a TBPC official, the formal name for this list is the "Centralized Master Bidder List," and rather
than being a sacred imprimatur as some companies have indicated, as though they've been anointed by the
Great Texas Sultanate of Bidness Approval, the CMBL is actually a business portal designed to consolidate
Texas government agencies' vendor base. To get on the CMBL there are no secret handshakes and the only
anointing occurs after you've filled out a form and sent in your $70. Zap, you're now on the vendor list.
|Mr. Larry Anderson
The last visible-thus-far piece of this puzzle is Larry Anderson, whom Mr.
Naughtin confirmed is "an owner" of C Innovation, Inc. While Mr.
Anderson may or may not be the president or officer of C Innovation, Inc.,
Mr. Anderson's owner/operator status is so stated on his bio on a
proposal published for one of his other companies, Medical Discoveries,
Inc., "a publicly traded development stage biopharmaceutical company"
established on November 20, 1991.
|Among the information supplied to the Securities and Exchange Commission is that "Larry Anderson has a
wide range of investment banking, sales and entrepreneurial experience...Mr. Anderson is an entrepreneur with
numerous start-ups and turn-arounds to his credit. Within the last 5 years he has owned and operated or
currently owns and operates, among other companies, C Innovation Inc, a 36-employee K-12 educational
software company located in Claremont, California; Success Finance, a small contract financing company
based in Utah; Complete Nursing Services a 28-employee terminally ill child care company in the State of
Washington; All Home Care, a 65-employee aged home care company in California; and Future Now
Enterprises, LLC in Utah. The combined yearly payroll of his businesses is over $6 million. Anderson currently
lives in Salt Lake City, Utah."
|For-profit terminally ill child care company
It should be noted that "Complete Nursing Services" (see 2005 Yellow Pages
ad at left), the for-profit terminally ill child care company in Spokane, appears
to no longer be in business as the phone numbers listed are no longer
working numbers and I have been unable to find newer telephone numbers
despite a rigorous search. I have pursued every lead possible in order to find
their new address but have turned up nothing thus far.
|'Complete Nursing Services'
Yellow Pages ad - Spokane, Wash.
|'Not your ordinary Iowa cornfed beef sales job'
My last attempt to contact Mr. Anderson was the only telephone number I have been able to locate for him, the
one appearing on a letter apparently written by him which was posted on "Recruiter-Rater." Although I have
called several times in the past four days, no one picks up and the recording is the same. "Thank you for
answering my ad." It is a cheerful young woman named Terry who tells callers that she is western regional vice
president of an unnamed 20-year old multi-million dollar finance company with the backing of three major banks.
"This opportunity is not your ordinary Iowa cornfed beef sales job," she tells callers, and she is looking for two to
three determined assertive salespeople who must know how to dress for success and are gregarious,
charming, impulsive and "a bit dramatic." The candidates will be interfacing with doctors, lawyers and dentists.
But as Terry does not mention either the name of her multi-million dollar finance company or Mr. Anderson, I ring
off. The first time I left my phone number but as she has not returned my call perhaps she picked up on the fact
that I'm pretty committed to wearing my Birkenstocks just about everywhere and therefore would probably not
pass muster when interfacing with doctors, lawyers and dentists even in an Iowa cornfield.
While discussing the question in general of public school districts using taxpayer dollars to do business with
closely held private corporations with a friend in another state tonight, he asked if one of the corporations we
were talking about had a performance bond. Yes, I told him, they do. It's Katy ISD's open checkbook.
|C INNOVATION COO BILL NAUGHTIN'S STATEMENT FROM PRESS RELEASE
“KISD is an innovative school district that is committed to integrating technology to provide a greater
educational experience and achieve the new levels of accountability demanded by state, local and federal
government,” says Bill Naughtin, COO at C-Innovation. “The transition from its legacy system to ZANGLE
will support these objectives, especially in helping parents, teachers and administrators access complete
information about students anytime, anywhere—all in an accurate, secure and real-time environment.”
(SOURCE--Press Release, C Innovation, Inc., April 27, 2006)
|HOW SAFE ARE YOUR CHILDREN'S RECORDS AT YOUR
LOCAL SCHOOL? THINK AGAIN AFTER VIEWING THE
PHOTOS AT RIGHT
By Peyton Wolcott - May 3, 2006 - 4:51 a.m.
One of these days when I have nothing else to do I'm going to sit down and add up for
myself how many different factoids are being collected annually on each one of our
Texas schoolchildren by the Texas Education Agency through its Public Education
Information Management System database.
The numbers I've been given range from 250 to 267 to almost 300.
PEIMS started out as a good idea. Who among us would disagree with accountability?
But like many ideas that start out good and end otherwise, it's grown so complicated
that school districts now must employ PEIMS personnel whose jobs it is to to collect
and send the data in to the State.
And now we have a new generation of invasive technology in the form of Zangle, which
similarly sounds like a great idea; among other scenarios, if Mom and Dad go to Tahiti
for a week they're only a laptop away from checking on Junior's grades back home in
|Think some more again
If an Asian hacker could last week obtain 200,000 records including names and Social
Security numbers from the University of Texas McCombs School of
Businessdatabase--with as sophisticated a system of firewalls and other protects as
any education facility in Texas--how secure can our children's information be at our
local school districts, none of which possess anywhere as sophisticated a degree of
As luck would have it last week I dropped by a local school district's technology
building to speak to the head guy. I took my small digital with me more from habit than
The door was unlocked and there was no one in the office so to occupy the time while
waiting I took photos for between four and five minutes (see at right) until two
employees returned to the building together. Not only were all manner of expensive
bits of computer gear lying around available to whomever reached for them but also
were several monitors on and humming in tune with the overhead fluroescents. A set
of keys apparently belonging to the wife of the tech guy were sitting out on a desk. It did
not occur to me until researching the above story that the district was vulnerable. I
could have been an intruder of any age with mischief in mind and could have easily
planted a bug or hacked into their programs. While this is the same district that the
Texas School Performance Review said three years ago needed to improve its
technology security, this district is also on its third head tech guy in three years and
seems not yet to have learned the importance of securing its technology.
I'm publishing these to make the point that it could have been anybody in those offices.
And to make the point that however wonderful ZANGLE and other information-gathering
softwares may appear, there is a down side, and it's a down side parents should be
thinking long and hard about.
MORE ABOUT THE UT-McCOMBS HACKING INCIDENT
AUSTIN – Whoever hacked into the computer system at the University of Texas at
Austin's business school obtained the names and Social Security numbers of 106,000
people, including all faculty and staff, most students and about half the alumni, a UT
official said Monday. Dan Updegrove, the university's vice president for information
technology, said there have been no reports of identity theft, but he urged anyone who
feared it had happened to register a fraud alert with a major credit agency. He said the
university's help desk is getting about 150 calls an hour, mostly from alumni, after
announcing Sunday that nearly 200,000 electronic records at the McCombs School of
Business had been illegally accessed. (SOURCE--042506, Jim Vertuno/Associated Press)
|PHOTOS FROM SMALL TEXAS
SCHOOL DISTRICT UNNAMED TO
PROTECT THE DISTRICT'S
|CREW'S HAND-PICKED DARLING CONDUCTS
PHONY MIAMI TEACHER CREDENTIALS INVESTIGATION
By Peyton Wolcott - May 1, 2006 - 2:12 a.m.
As the Ghostbusters song goes, when you're in trouble, "Who you gonna call?"
It's a question Miami-Dade County Public Schools supe Rudy Crew might well have
been asking himself as the MOTET investigation continues at a crawl.
|Improperly trained kids
driving cars--new Miami
menace? (ART/Vince Crain)
|You remember MOTET: MDCPS high school coach William McCoggle organized a phony credentials scheme via
Move On Toward Education and Training whereby as many as 1000 teachers paid their money and got their
instant drivers ed and other credentials from six colleges and universities--without the benefit of any tedious actual
Of course, nobody really thinks McCoggle dreamed this up on his own, let alone orchestrated it. But he was the
district's fall guy who pleaded guilty last November and was duly sentenced, ordered to pay as much as $100,000
restitution and sent to prison for two years instead of ten as part of his plea deal. Other than McCoggle's
incarceration, the only noticeable fallout has been that last month six MDCPS teachers were fired and 26 allowed to
resign. Oh, and "last fall, Ohio's Otterbein College, which has about 3,000 students, revoked nearly 10,000 credits
given to 657 teachers." (SOURCE--Associated Press)
|If you're Rudy Crew, this means you've still got a big mess on your hands--hundreds of uncertified
drivers ed teachers who with the apparent blessing and encouragement of MDCPS administrators--
such as American High School principal Louis Algaze who directed whistleblower Bennett
Packman to MOTET--have unleashed potentially thousands of young drivers onto Miami roads
without the benefit of certified teachers, ramping up a case of widespread credentials fraud to another
level, making it now a public safety issue. Miami motorists have to ask themselves how prepared
they are to meet young drivers on the road who were taught to drive by folks whose only provable
driving skill is their ability to navigate their own automobile in and out of the MDCPS parking lot.
|Darling to the rescue before
Who you gonna call? If you're Rudy Crew, you're going to call someone who you can count on,
someone who bailed you out of that other big mess just a year ago, the bar brawl where your two
sons beat up on a single guy in a singular display of courage and bravery. If you're Rudy Crew, you're
gonna call your hand-picked MDCPS chief of police Gerald Darling who graciously volunteered to
write a letter of reference for young Russell and Ryan.
|MDCPS administrators allowed MOTET to flourish for years for reasons of their own.
Thus far, Miami-Dade's official investigation appears to have been limited to making
a few phone calls and sending a letter or two. Here's one example: "Phillips did not
return a call nor, according to [MDCPS chief public information officer Joseph]
Garcia, did the school respond to a request for information." (SOURCE--Matthew I.
Pinzur/Miami-Herald) At this pace, does anyone really think Darling's official
investigation will lead to or uncover anything substantial? And who are Miami-Dade
parents and taxpayers gonna call when they wake up and realize the full scope of
this scandal--and the district's apathy in investigating it?
My open offer to Rudy Crew: Because your prior requests for
information have not been successful at Phillips and the other institutions of higher
education involved in MOTET, I will be happy to walk you through filing public records
requests. These institutions can turn down your requests in letters and ignore your
phone calls--but they can't ignore your formal public records requests. Step-by-step
directions here www.peytonwolcott.com/Howtofileapublicrecordsrequest.html
|Russell (left) & Ryan Crew
(PHOTO/Miami-Dade Corrections &
|OPEN LETTER TO MDCPS SUPE RUDY CREW,
MDCPS POLICE CHIEF GERALD DARLING, MDCPS CHIEF
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER JOSEPH GARCIA, AND
MDCPS PRINCIPAL LOUIS ALGAZE
|appropriate certification is held by the teacher to be assigned or scheduled. Verification of certification held by a
teacher or verification of certification in process shall be requested by the principal when necessary from the
Office of Human Resources." Further, Section 2.E. ("Certification") states, "1. All teachers shall be appropriately
certified. In the event that it is necessary to hire a teacher out of field, the principal shall obtain verification from
Human Resources that no qualified applicants are available for the position. Human Resources and the
principal shall notify the teacher that he/she is required in order to remain at the school to earn a minimum of six
college credits per year towards certification in the appropriate field." Unless I am missing something here, it
appears that the full responsibility for making sure teachers are certified to teach their subjects falls to the
principal, in this case, Louis Algaze. Yet from my own investigation it appears that Louis has met none of these
certification steps or requirements, either in the case of Bennett Packman or with any of your other American High
School teachers you directed to MOTET. If I am incorrect and you have done so, could you please send me a
paper record indicating such? I will publish the paper records you send showing that you followed the
above-stated contract guidelines.
|HOW MOTET WORKED: "By signing up and paying the fee for the class, absolutely no coursework,
instruction time, tests, or homework was involved. The teachers would simply receive a transcript claiming
that they were awarded credit for a class that they really didn’t take. And the transcript would easily satisfy the
requirements of the school districts, especially since the credit was awarded from real colleges even though
the actual coursework would be provided by a third party." (SOURCE--Daniel Muniz/www.nationalsummary.com)
|TIME WARP HITS KATY ISD!
THE CASE OF THE MORPHING MONTHS!
By Peyton Wolcott - April 29, 2006/3:20 a.m.
An otherwise very wise Hopi elder I know tells me that aliens have visited Hopiland in
their spacecraft, and we're not talking illegal immigrants.
Next time I speak with my friend I'm going to ask him about a curious time warp that
has apparently occurred in Katy ISD just west of Houston, Texas, get his take on
what's going on there.
|Official UFO spacecraft
behind the month-morphing
incident in Katyland
|How this phenomenon was uncovered
Mid-afternoon yesterday four paper records--Katy ISD trustee Robert Ray Shaw's applications for his seat on the
Katy ISD school board--crossed my desk. The more I have examined these applications the more perplexed I grow.
It boils down to this: Other than the phenomenon of months and years morphing I simply have no other explanation
for the fact that on February 21, 1997, when Mr. Shaw first applied for his position on the Katy ISD school board, he
stated that he had lived in Texas for 21 years and 5 months, yet on that same exact date three years later, on his
application for his second term, he stated that he had lived in Texas 23 years and 8 months. Using my very
rudimentary math skills, using the dates he originally provided, on Feb. 21, 2000 he would have lived in Texas for 24
years and 5 months. Where are the missing nine months? If you've seen them, could you please tell them to
return to their rightful place in the scheme of things?
|Special advance TAKS prep!
Check your math skills against
Katy ISD trustee Robert Ray Shaw's!
|Unlikely as it might seem, the interruption in
the time/space continuum continues on Mr.
Shaw's next application on February 13,
2003, when he stated that he had on that
date lived in Texas for 27 years and 3
months, yet according to his original
statement his time in Texas would have
been 27 years and 5 months. The same
thing also appears to have applied to his
statements regarding his length of time in
Katy ISD, all separate entries (see grey box
When is an engineer not an
Some of my friends are in the arts and with
them I expect dodgy dates. But Mr. Shaw
states on his Katy ISD board member bio
that he is employed as "a mechanical
engineer." We all know engineers are the
most precise souls around, right up there
with CPA's and attorneys. These are the
folks who make their living by being exact.
|On Feb. 21, 1997, he says he had
Lived in Texas . . . . . 21 years, 5 months
Lived in Katy ISD . . .20 years, 11 months
On February 21, 2000, he says he had
Lived in Texas . . . . .23 years, 8 months
Lived in Katy ISD . . 24 years, 2 months
On Feb. 18, 2003, he says he had . . .
Lived in Texas . . . . .27 years, 3 months
Lived in Katy ISD . . 26 years, 8 months
On March 3, 2006, he says he had . . .
Lived in Texas . . . . 30 years, 4 months
Lived in Katy ISD . . 29 years, 9 months
|Your totals here:
____ years, ___ months
____ years, ___ months
____ years, ___ months
____ years, ___ months
____ years, ___ months
____ years, ___ months
|50% or fewer correct
answers wins you a
chance to allocate
$13 million to
unbid tech vendors!
|Residency dates stated by
Katy ISD trustee
Robert Ray Shaw
(in his hand on board
|On his 1997, 2000 and 2003 board member application Mr. Shaw states that he is a "mechanical engineer,"
although by his 2006 application he is just "engineer." Curious about the distinction, I contacted the Texas Board
of Professional Engineers to find out which title applies to our good Mr. Shaw--he was not in when I tried him at his
office--but the TBPE says he is neither. According to a TBPE spokesman, "Robert Ray Shaw is currently not a
licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas."
It should be noted that in 2003 the state legislature made some changes to the Texas Engineering Practices Act to
loosen up who could call themselves "engineer" in order to accommodate the new breed of engineers working in
the software field, but the same TBPE spokesman said none of the changes appear to apply to our Mr. Shaw.
Two-year associate degree in drafting & design
Thinking there might be a clue in Mr. Shaw's education background as his Katy ISD board bio states that he is a
graduate of "Oklahoma State University," when I contacted the OSU registrar's office yesterday afternoon the only
degree they have on record for for Robert Ray Shaw is a two-year degree, a "Technical Institute Associate Degree
in Drafting and Design" granted in 1968. The registrar's office looked but they couldn't find a four-year degree
awarded to a Robert Ray Shaw. According to an OSU spokesman, the university "offered different types of courses,
like a vo-tech system at the college level, back in the sixties."
|What's good for the gander is not good for the goose
Perhaps not so unrelated as you might think, earlier this month Katy ISD's school board voted unanimously to non-
renew second-grade teacher Jennifer Silva's contract for allegedly putting scotch tape on some of her students'
mouths. According to Silva, “KISD informed me of the proposed termination before the actual investigation of the
incident was even completed, and without ever meeting with me personally to resolve the matter in any way other
than termination.” (SOURCE--Helen Eriksen/Houston Chronicle) Katy ISD's attorney, Bill Helfand of Chamberlain,
Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin, "accused Silva of improvising discipline techniques. He said she should have
stuck to approved disciplinary guidelines." According to a citizen who attended the meeting who prefers to remain
anonymous, Helfand stated that Silva "lied by omission" in her reporting of what occurred. (Ibid.) And that was a
unanimous board vote, you say?
|I'm going to take a little breather from looking at more board members' applications. Uncovering any more time
warping might cause little men in white coats to cart me away to their spacecraft, drop me off somewhere over
Hopiland--or Katyland, a place where months morph and different standards seem to apply for goose and
gander, peons and the high and mighty.
|ETHICS AT THE TOP: DOES WHERE SUPES AND
PRINCIPALS LIVE MATTER?
By Peyton Wolcott - April 27, 2006
When gossip was circulating at fever pitch a few years ago around
Strongsville, Ohio about the affair between cute high school football
captain Steve Bradigan and vivacious special ed teacher Christine
Scarlett, Strongsville supe James Gray could truthfully claim he
|Akron resident James Gray (left); Strongs-
ville's Christine Scarlett, Steve Bradigan
|didn't know. How could he? At the end of the school day Gray didn't get into his car and head over to McDonald's or
Arby's or the local bowling league or church elders meeting where he would have heard the scuttlebutt. Instead, he
headed for his home in Akron an hour away, an entirely different community with its own unique and pressing needs.
|'An arrogance of immunity '
Then there's New York's Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the system's
two showcase schools, where standards had slipped since Lee McCaskill
took over as principal, exhibiting "a pattern of uneven, sometimes bizarre
behavior and decision-making ...that had turned what was once one of America’
s great secondary schools into a hellish learning and teaching environment,"
says Jim Callaghan of The New York Teacher. "McCaskill, who once
addressed a gathering of 120 students as 'dumb a**es,' told an English
teacher that he saw no value in teaching Macbeth to high school students, and
he canceled one of the most successful Shakespeare programs in the city."
|Says Betsy Combier of ParentAdvocates.org, "There's an arrogance of immunity--the administrators here in New
York just don't care. Teacher turnover was rampant and no one was happy, but nothing was done about McCaskill
until somebody found out he wasn't living in the district or even New York State. He was living in New Jersey."
McCaskill resigned in early February, and deputy chancellor Carmen Farina, McCaskill's immediate boss and
mentor, announced her resignation yesterday afternoon.
|Leonard Merrell living larger than
Katy ISD in Spring Creek Ranch
When Katy ISD in suburban Houston first
advertised for a new superintendent in 1995,
one of the conditions of employment was "Must
reside in district." The “Announcement of
Vacancy” brochure says so. It was prepared by
superintendent search specialist Bob
Thompson of Lamar University in Beaumont
who was very clear on this point in his recruiting
for the district.
|Katy ISD supe Leonard Merrell's
10-acre equine estate in Waller ISD
|Back then, Katy ISD was and still is a developer's dream--miles and miles of prairie ripe for miles and miles of
new homes as part of Houston's westward expansion. Local property taxes, which is how public schools are
primarily funded in Texas, were $1.67 per $100 valuation then, and the board settled on candidate Leonard E.
Merrell to become Katy ISD's new superintendent.
Just because you can doesn't mean you should
Fast forward to 2006, and while Merrell is still supe at Katy ISD, three things have changed. The district now
charges the max property tax rate allowed by the state of Texas ($2.00 per $100 valuation), Leonard Merrell no
longer lives in the district where he works, and it's no longer in his contract that he's required to live in the district.
The Merrells purchased a 10-acre tract in nearby Hockley and built what is by all accounts their dream house,
according to those who have been there, with their taxes going not to Katy ISD from which he draws a hefty annual
salary ($250,000) but Waller ISD--where the tax rate is a much lower $1.78 per $100. According to Katy ISD
insiders, his new home is likely worth anywhere from $650,000 to $800,000. Assuming the lower estimated
valuation, annual property taxes on this house in Katy ISD would run $13,000 versus only $11,700 at the lower
Waller ISD tax rate. Spread over the life of a 30-year mortgage, Merrell has saved himself $39,000 by moving out
of district. But where did he move to?
|Merrell's new subdivision Spring Creek Ranch features such amenities
as a "beautiful stone gated entry, private road, twin lakes, nature trails and
deed restrictions to protect your property." It's an equine community in
which, according to the developer, "every resident enjoys free access to
the community's full-size covered horse riding arena. Centrally located in
the heart of the property, the arena has been architecturally designed to
create a cool riding environment any time of the year."
'It just doesn't look good'
"In business, government and society there are rules of compliance that
are required. There are also ethical rules over and above that which may
be just as important to the community. This situation with the
superintendent you mention seems to fall into that latter category,"
commented award-winning ethics professor Diane Swanson, von
Waaden Business Administration Professor, Chair of the Ethics Initiative
at Kansas State University, when interviewed earlier this week. "It just
doesn't look good. It's not best face forward."
|Spring Creek Ranch in Waller ISD;
Leonard Merrell (inset)
|"Most people would agree that where they live and where they pay their taxes, that's the community of priority to
them, and that's the community they're going to pay more attention to. So the ideal thing is for superintendents to
live in the community where they work so their vested interests are more closely aligned," says Swanson. "In the
private sector where we talk about stock options for executives, the point is to try to align the executives' interests
with those of the shareholders. This is a very similar concern in that the board would want to see the interests of the
superintendent as carefully aligned with the interests of the education community as possible. Besides, it looks
In Strongsville, Ohio the fallout's big especially for both families because Christine Scarlett and Steve Bradigan are
now duking it out in court over custody of their toddler son. As Steve's mom says of Scarlett, "She will be my
grandson's mother all of his life." The Bradigans have filed a lawsuit and signed for Oprah and Scarlett is selling
In New York, in a display of stunning irony just weeks after forcing McCaskill out for living out of district and sending
his child to New York public schools without paying, the DOE announced a 30-day amnesty for teachers and
principals who were living out of district and sending their children to New York public schools without paying,
offering them the opportunity to fess up and cough up.
And in Waller ISD in Hockley, Texas, Katy ISD supe Leonard Merrell "has places to explore, and places to linger" in
his new subdivision with the lower taxes than he's charging the taxpayers paying his salary. "From our tree-lined
home sites, to the gentle rolling of the land to our twin lakes, the natural beauty of the land at Spring Creek Ranch is
evident and breathtaking," reads the Spring Creek Ranch brochure. This must be a real inspiration to Katy ISD
taxpayers, knowing their supe has places to explore and places to linger, including that air-conditioned horse corral.
|TEXAS SBOE UPDATE
By Peyton Wolcott - April 27, 2006
Remember our story connecting SBOE member Mary Helen Berlanga and the Texas Successful
Schools Study we reported was authored by her husband--and that she had placed it along with
bilingual education on the SBOE agenda for yesterday, presumably to spark a discussion regarding
Berlanga no-showed at the SBOE meeting.
Pity. Her agenda item discussing bilingual ed and her husband's study was first up.
|SUPERINTENDENTS: THE ROCK STARS
OF K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION
By Peyton Wolcott - April 25, 2006
This is a small point to make but it explains much.
|There's a John Lennon quote I wish I could find but I can't so we'll
have to make do with a paraphrase. Basically it goes like this. An
interviewer is questioning Lennon about his excesses and Lennon
looks at him and says, "I've had my future completely assured since
I was 24. Not many people have that opportunity. They'll never be in
a position to have the things presented to them that are presented to
|Mick Jagger (left) and Bruce Springsteen
|By the time a supe reaches supedom, his/her future is completely assured. They've got a cushy TRS retirement to
look forward to but of course no supe ever really retires--not so long as there are consulting opportunities along with
double-dipping employment with the local regional service center or state edu-agency or some such other to be had.
The second part of Lennon's quote regards opportunity. The average taxpayer has no clue as to either the range or
number of opportunities presented to supes at every turn, opportunities involving money and things shall we say
pleasant. To turn down 100% of the opportunities presented would require someone with the constitution of a saint
coupled with the resolution of rhinoceros--and there ain't no such animal. All day long supes are assailed by offers,
and the bigger the district the bigger the offers. It's too much for any one person.
This Springsteen lyric seems apropos given that many supes come from relatively modest backgrounds:
|Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain't satisfied
Till he rules everything
(SOURCE--"Badlands" by Bruce Springsteen)
|The big pot of money must disappear from our K-12 American public schools. When that happens superintendents
can either become real rock stars--or do something truly productive like teach in a classroom. Badlands are no place
to educate our kids.
|MYSTERY! INTRIGUE! MONEY!
ALL AT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION!
By Peyton Wolcott - April 24, 2006
When we do our sleuthing at high levels we have to be very careful. Let me see if I'm following
1. Mary Helen Berlanga is secretary of the Texas State Board of Education, of which she's
been a member since 1982. A bio features the information that she "has been honored by
the Texas Association for Bilingual Education." (SOURCE--John Metz/Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
|2. An SBOE board member--inside sources tell me it was Berlanga--has posted as the first agenda item for this
Wednesday, April 26, a "Discussion of Bilingual Education Issues."
3. If it was Berlanga who posted this item, it would not be surprising, given that Berlanga like most liberals (she's
a Democrat) supports bilingual ed rather than immersion; here's her take back in 1998: "While some children
who would have otherwise gone into bilingual education will succeed in school without it, a large number won't,
Ms. Berlanga predicted. 'I feel sorry for the children who don't make it,' she said. 'They're dooming them for
failure.'" (SOURCE--Associated Press) Doomed for failure? Sounds pretty anti-immersion--which is what immigrant
parents want for their kids because they know it works--and hard-line to boot.
4. But we plow on. The purpose of Wednesday's agenda item is not to just discuss bilingual ed issues in
general. Noooooo. According to the SBOE, "The item provides the Committee of the Whole the opportunity to
discuss bilingual education issues in Texas, including the Texas Successful Schools Study."
|8. So David Berlanga has not just recently stumbled into the field of bilingual ed; it in fact appears to be his area of
expertise. How very fortunate for him to have a wife serving on the SBOE who can help funnel government and other
grants his direction and otherwise help contribute to a climate of awareness favorable to bilingual ed, including
introducing the topic at SBOE meetings such as the one this Wednesday, April 26. Wonder if the Mister will be in
9. Questions, duckies? Here's the Berlanga's contact info so you can ask them yourselves:
Mary Helen Berlanga, 2727 Morgan Avenue, Corpus Christi, TX 78405, 361.881.1000, 361.881.1028 (FAX) -
Dr. David Berlanga, Associate Professor of Education - Early Childhood Development Center 237
(361) 825-3373 - Fax: (361) 825-5347 - firstname.lastname@example.org OR Dr. David Berlanga, Director Title VII Bil/ESL
Teacher Training Grant Early Childhood Development Center 237, 6300 Ocean Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78412 OR
Dr. David Berlanga, Title: Associate Professor, TAMU-Corpus Christi, Department: Education Faculty, Office
Location: FC221, Office Phone: 825-3374 - Email: email@example.com
|OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: If any of the foregoing is factually incorrect, the Berlanga's are invited to
contact me with a paper record supporting their assertion. Until I stand corrected, the foregoing stands.
|HOW XPEDIANT SPENT SOME
OF KATY ISD'S $13 MILLION
By Peyton Wolcott - April 21, 2006
Although these pages on K-12 public school
reform do not ordinarily feature photos of
people's homes, this is not an ordinary story.
These photos are here today because it
would appear they have much to say about the
state of public education in our country,
particularly as regards how our schools
spend our money. Our schools tell us they
|Xpediant, LLC president Scott Wright's residence in
Katy, Texas; this home backs up to Grayson Lake.
|are "broke" and operating on "bare bones" budgets yet a single technology vendor in one Texas district experienced
sufficient profits within its first three years of doing business that it could advance its president at least $480,000
towards the purchase of a new waterfront home, and its vice president $384,000 the next year.
What we know
We know that Katy ISD has paid its technology vendor Xpediant, LLC $13 million for unbid work. We also know that
Xpediant, LLC has lent significant amounts of money to Xpediant's president, Scott Wright, and vice president,
Jack Wayne Caskey, to purchase new homes during a period when, according to both the Texas Comptroller and
Secretary of State, Xpediant was delinquent in paying its franchise taxes and had forfeited its corporate charter. As
I reported last week, Xpediant, according to the Secretary of State's office, "has no entity status and no liability
Questions for Katy ISD parents and taxpayers
Is Katy ISD paying Xpediant too much money for its services? Given that Xpediant's services to Katy ISD never went
through an open bid process, this will be hard to answer. Another question Katy ISD parents and taxpayers must
ask themselves has to do with the quality of leadership and oversight the district has been providing, both as to its
administration and as to its elected board members.
On August 27, 2004, Xpediant, LLC loaned Scott W. Wright
and Sara N. Wright $480,000.00 to purchase a residence
at 2003 Mariner Point Lane (above), Katy, Texas 77494,
such amount to be paid off in full by October 1, 2034.
On August 8, 2005, Xpediant, LLC loaned Jack W. Caskey,
Jr. and Leslie R. Caskey $384,000.00 to purchase a
residence at 2018 Mariner Point Lane (left), Katy, Texas
77494, such amount to be paid off in full by October 1,
2035. Deed #2005102910.
Review the deeds here
|Waterfront view of the rear of Xpediant, LLC
vice president Jack Caskey's residence
in Grayson Lakes, Katy, Texas.
Although Katy ISD initially released information indicating the problem period was only three months during 2001-02,
according to George Scott and Jimmy Kilpatrick in today's EducationNews.org the Comptroller's office has
released information which "includes documentation that Xpediant LLC was delinquent in filing tax reports for the
2002, 2003 and 2004 tax years. The 2005 franchise tax reports are not due in Texas until May but were a part of the
company's official filing this week." Also from the Comptroller:
o "Taxpayer [Xpediant, LLC] was delinquent for 2002 (initial) franchise tax on 10/29/02"
o "Notice of delinquency was sent 1/10/03"
o "Forfeiture of corporate privileges was effective 02/25/03"
o "Notice of forfeiture of corporate privileges was sent 03/07/03"
o "Taxpayer was delinquent for 2003 franchise tax on 05/16/03"
o "Notice of delinquency was sent 08/01/03"
o "Forfeiture of corporate privileges was effective 10/15/03"
o "Notice of forfeiture of corporate privileges was sent 10/24/03"
o "Corporate charter was forfeited on 02/13/04"
o "Notice of forfeiture of corporate charter was sent (by CPA) on 02 /20/04" (SOURCE--EducationNews.org.)
I have today asked Katy ISD superintendent Leonard E. Merrell and Xpediant officers Scott Wright and Jack
Wayne Caskey, with copies to Katy ISD board members, for their feedback regarding the foregoing. It is entirely
possible that Fort Bend County has posted incorrect deeds or that some other fact is incorrect, and if so I am eager
to learn what is true. I have also queried them as to how Katy resident AD Muller's purchase earlier this week of
the name Xpediant LLC affects the relationship of Katy ISD and Messrs. Wright and Caskey and their 37 employees
working at Katy ISD.
I have also today queried Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley and Associate Commissioner Robert
Scott as to the oversight role if any the Texas Education Agency plays in assuring taxpayers that school districts
are not overspending on unbid services such as technology vendors.
For more information: EducationNews.org
|COMPARE & CONTRAST (Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006)
KATY ISD SUPERINTENDENT LEONARD MERRELL'S EMAIL EXPLANATION
FACTS UNCOVERED BY EDUCATIONNEWS.ORG
NOTE THE DATE ON KATY ISD SUP'T MERRELL'S EMAIL - NOTE ALSO MERRELL'S REFERENCE TO 3-MONTH GAP
|Texas Comptroller's Documents Contradict Katy
I.S.D.'s Version Of Technology Vendor's Tax Problems
By GEORGE H. SCOTT JIMMY KILPATRICK
Friday, April 21, 2006
When confronted with news that one of its major vendors had state
franchise tax filing problems in Texas, the Katy I.S.D. issued a
release to the website saying that "there was a gap of three
months for which taxes were not filed" during the
2001-02 period. The release was also sent to EducationNews.org.
In fact, the Comptroller's office's release of
information Thursday includes documentation that
Xpediant LLC was delinquent in filing tax reports for
the 2002, 2003 and 2004 tax years. The 2005 franchise tax
reports are not due in Texas until May but were a part of the
company's official filing this week, a state official said. The
spokesman for the Comptroller's office provided the following
summary of information regarding Xpediant LLC's tax status:
"Taxpayer was delinquent for 2002 (initial) franchise tax on 10/29/02"
"Notice of delinquency was sent 1/10/03"
"Forfeiture of corporate privileges was effective
"Notice of forfeiture of corporate privileges was sent
"Taxpayer was delinquent for 2003 franchise tax on
"Notice of delinquency was sent 08/01/03"
"Forfeiture of corporate privileges was effective
"Notice of forfeiture of corporate privileges was sent
"Corporate charter was forfeited on 02/13/04"
"Notice of forfeiture of corporate charter was sent
(by CPA) on02 /20/04"
Katy I.S.D. offered no explanation of its earlier
published release asserting that the vendor's tax
problems with the State of Texas were limited to only
a "gap of three months."
Meanwhile, EducationNews.org has learned that Katy resident A.D.
Muller sought and obtained the use of the name Xpediant LLC from
the Texas Secretary of State's office on Tuesday, April 18 - the same
day that an official of the District's vendor was filing reports with
Comptroller's office seeking to resolve its tax problems with the State.
The Secretary of State of Texas took official action to
forfeit Expediant LLC's corporate status on February
13, 2004. Muller said that when he learned the school district
vendor had forfeited its corporate status, he decided to pay the
State's filing fee in order to be able to obtain use of the name
Muller said that he was provided the appropriate paper work by the
Secretary of State's office confirming his transaction and assignment
of the name on April 18.
"I think the people of Katy I.S.D. will learn a lot about the poor caliber
of management oversight provided by the Board of Trustees of this
district because of the developments that have been brought to
public light by the news media," Muller said. "Whatever process the
school board implemented to hold its administrator's accountable for
the way it conducts and monitors business was certainly inadequate
in this situation."
"I have a piece of paper provided to me by the Secretary of State of the
Texas that says that I have been assigned the name Xpediant LLC ,"
Muller said. "We now know that Katy I.S.D. has done millions of
dollars of business with a firm that officially lost its corporate
privileges over three years ago and were notified by the State. There
are some who might think that is actually a serious issue when
evaluating the competence of Katy I.S.D."
Muller was the original author of an open records submitted to Katy
I.S.D. seeking a wide range of information on the school district's
technology investments, Xpediant LLC, and the decision by the
district to pursue a patent on a technology invention involving a
curriculum management program.
Xpediant LLC's contract with Katy I.S.D. was negotiated as a
professional services contract which is exempt from the competitive
bidding process according to state law in Texas. Moreover, the Katy
I.S.D. provides office and secretarial service to 37
Xpediant LLC employees who occupy office space in
the District as a term of the contract.
|Email from Leonard Merrell
Received April 19, 2006 - 3:56 p.m.
Dear Ms. Wolcott:
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your
questions about the tax status of Xpediant LLC.
In 2002, Xpediant filed an initial franchise tax
report and paid taxes for a period covering 17
months (2001-02). When the next
regular report was filed, there was a
gap of three months for which taxes
were not filed. Mr. Wright and Mr. Caskey
were unaware of this situation until late last
Friday night when your e-mail arrived.
Mr. Wright called the State Comptroller’s office
immediately on Monday morning and was
told that the company needed to file
for the period in question. The contact
at the Comptroller’s office told Mr. Wright that
the company might have been informed of the
omission by mail, but could not find a copy of
the notification letter. The filing and payment
were immediately sent via overnight delivery to
the State Comptroller’s office. Mr. Wright has
been assured that the Comptroller’s website
will be updated as soon as possible to reflect
an accurate updated account status.
When Katy ISD selects vendors with whom to
do business, it utilizes the Certified Master
Bidders List and the Certified Information
Systems Vendor List, which are maintained by
the Texas Building and Procurement
Commission. The TBPC is responsible for
qualifying these vendors and verifying their
credentials. Xpediant has been listed on both
of these approved vendor lists since 2001.
Katy ISD contracts with Xpediant as a
professional service provider, in the same way
that it contracts for legal, accounting, financial,
demographic, architectural, engineering and
other services. Professional service
providers are subject to selection
criteria other than bidding, most
notably the ability of the contractor to provide
the type of expertise that best meets the needs
of the district for that service. Cost is most
assuredly a consideration, but not the
primary determinant in selecting
professional service providers.
Katy ISD has project-based contracts with
Xpediant for number of technology-related
operations of the district, including software
development, networking, systems
engineering and data management. Since
neither Mr. Wright nor Mr. Caskey
are employees of Katy ISD, they do not
have employment contracts with the district.
Xpediant pays for expenses such as
travel and meals. Several Xpediant
employees who are on 24-hour call for the
district carry cell phones paid for by
Katy ISD. The technology department is
organized under a Deputy Superintendent for
Technology Services who is a Katy ISD
employee and who has direct management
responsibility for both Xpediant and Katy ISD
Any software developed by Xpediant under
contract to Katy ISD will remain the property of
the district and any future patents resulting
from such software development will be held
exclusively by the district. Both Xpediant and
Katy ISD personnel who have been involved in
software development, including the KMAC
(Katy Management of Automated Curriculum)
system, are required to sign non-disclosure
agreements ensuring that any resulting
product will remain under the sole control of
Merrell says Xpediant employees Scott Wright
and Wayne Caskey are not "employees" of Katy
ISD -- but if this is true why are they assigned
Katy ISD titles? Wright's Xpediant title is
"president" and Caskey's Xpediant title is "vice
From Katy ISD's Technology webpage:
Executive Director, Technology Operations
Scott Wright (Secretary Shawna Daniels)
Director of Technical Services Wayne Caskey
(Secretary Sarah Brint) 281-396-2286
|NOTE: Although the foregoing information including reference to a 3-month gap supplied by Katy
ISD supe Leonard Merrell appears to have been disproven by EducationNews.org soon after
Merrell's email was disseminated, no subsequent clarification has been received from Merrell or
any other Katy ISD employees or board members. Any future clarifications will be posted.
FURTHER NOTE: I have delayed posting superintendent Merrell's email until now in hopes the
district would supply further clarification, but none has yet been received.
How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question, one school at a time.
Copyright 2006 Peyton Wolcott
|5. Ah, the Texas Successful Schools Study. Let's see, might that be the August 2000 study
funded by the Texas Education Agency? And the State Board of Education oversees public
education in Texas including the Texas Education Agency? And Mary Helen Berlanga is
listed on the Texas Successful Schools study as being a member of the SBOE when the
study was conducted? Yep, there it is on page 3: "Mary Helen Berlanga - Corpus Christi -
6. You think page 3 is interesting? Wait until you get to page 4. David Berlanga--that's Mr.
Mary Helen Berlanga to you--is listed as one of the five members of the Texas
A&M-Corpus Christi Research Team which authored the Texas Successful Schools Study.
Is this how these things operate? Do you find it mysterious and intriguing--remember, I
promised you both--that out of all of the many major institutions of higher learning the Texas
Education Agency had to choose from it scooped up a smallish satellite campus for this
study that until 1994--six years previous to the publish date of the study--was a two-year
institution? I think you've figured out the money angle on your own. We delve further.
7. Remember Mrs. Berlanga's quote from 1998? No wonder she was happy to speak up
so forcefully about bilingual ed that year--her husband won a $1.25 mil US DOE grant in
October, 1998. Here's from the TAMU press release: "The grant was submitted by Dr.
David Berlanga, associate professor of education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
and director of bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) education."
|KATY ISD "COMPARE & CONTRAST" - 22 SCROLLS DOWN
TIME MORPHING KATY ISD TRUSTEE ROBERT RAY SHAW 10 SCROLLS DOWN
ROCK STAR SUPES - 16 scrolls down
P E Y T O N W O L C O T T
How To File a Public
How To Organize
TEA POWER GRAB
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|ATTENTION EDUCATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS:
Every attempt possible has been made to verify all sources and information. In the event you feel an error has been made, please contact us immediately. Thank you.
|Copyright 1999-2006 Peyton Wolcott
How easy is it to
make contact with
Is his/her email
address on your
If not, why not?
After all, you're
paying for his/her
Moms & Dads
are taking on
|F o c u s i n g o n a c c o u n t a b i l i t y f i r s t :
T h i s i s h o w w e t a k e b a c k o u r c h i l d r e n s ' e d u c a t i o n
O n e P e r s o n , O n e Q u e s t i o n , O n e S c h o o l a t a T i m e . Copyright 1999-2006 Peyton Wolcott
is a great element
If you only knock
and loud enough
at the gate,
you are sure to
wake up somebody.
as to what open
Ours in Texas is
philosophy of the
that adheres to
government is the
servant and not
master of the
people, it is the
policy of this state
that each person is
by law, at all times
the affairs of
of public officials
The people, in
do not give their
the right to decide
what is good
for the people to
know and what is
not good for them
insist on remaining
informed so that
they may retain
control over the
The provisions of
|Former Brooklynn Tech HS
principal Lee McCaskill and
his New Jersey residence
|According to Article 7 ("Hiring, Assigning, Transferring Instructional Personnel") of the
UTD union contract in force at the time Louis Algaze hired Bennett Packman, Section
2.D. ("Teacher Certification") states "It is the expressed intent of the board and the union
that teachers shall be assigned in the fields for which they are certified. Principals
therefore have the responsibility to ensure that teachers who are hired for a school
assignment are appropriately certified for such assignment. Furthermore, it is the
responsibility of the principal in assigning or scheduling teachers to ensure that
|The press release on C Innovation's website states: "One of Texas’ fastest growing district cites ability to
quickly access information and improve delivery of educational services to it’s [sic] community." Other than the
typo, nothing much to be worried about, right? "Katy Independent School District (KISD) announces that it has
partnered with C Innovation and implemented ZANGLE, the company’s flagship student information
management system. ZANGLE will help the school district to better manage data on approximately 42,000
students in 44 schools."
Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce--
KISD has partnered with C Innovation?
But what does this mean, a public school district having "partnered" with a private business? According to a
Texas Education Agency official, "If they meant that the partnership was a contract, then Section 11.157,
Education Code authorizes school districts to contract with a public or private entity to provide educational
services for the district." Have queried Katy ISD officials as to the exact nature of this "partnership" and am
awaiting their response. All this time I thought the purpose of public schools to educate our kids.
|The chief COO
Contacted at C Innovation's Claremont, California offices, Bill Naughtin said he is an
employee of C Innovation who has been in the education technology field since 1968 and
has a list "a thousand school districts long" of references but declined to name any of
them. C Innovations is, he said, "extremely privately held--and we like it that way." When
asked about the makeup of C Innovation, Inc., Mr. Naughtin said, "The district has all of
that information," and that the company was on the "state bidding list."