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Newsmonger

Newsmonger: DPS under fire, Woman nabbed in murder-for-hire plot, Millions spent on school punishment in TX

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Anna Vasquez, 37, was released from prison Friday after serving more than 12 years of her 15-year sentence for sexually assaulting two young girls. Vasquez is one of four women (the other three still incarcerated) working with the Innocence Project of Texas to clear their names, saying the bizarre story presented to jurors was fabricated. One of the victims, now 25 years old, recently recanted saying the assault never happened. 


Yet out-of-school suspensions were common at many area schools and were often handed out for offenses that did not threaten the safety of staff or students. In the 2010-11 school year, 93% of such suspensions in NISD were discretionary — 91% in SAISD.

Texas Appleseed's recommendation of overhauling disciplinary policies to equip teachers and staff with proactive rather than reactive methods of discipline may seem ambitious in light of budget issues but Freeman argues the current system is not cheap. "You can train teachers at a fraction of the cost of what you are spending on school security."

Another expense questioned in the report are the Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs administered by each district. The alternative schools at NISD, according to the report, suffer from poor attendance rates which allows more state funding to slip through the district's fingers. Pascual Gonzalez, Executive Director of Communications for NISD, was not moved by these figures. "People who issue these reports do not walk in our shoes," Gonzalez said. "They have no idea what it is like to manage a crowded classroom."

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