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12News report leads to an investigation into BISD by district attorney

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BEAUMONT - A 12News report Monday night has led to yet another investigation into the Beaumont Independent School District.

Jefferson County District Attorney Cory Crenshaw's task force targeting public corruption will look into allegations BISD parents were improperly charged for college credit classes.

Monday, we introduced you to "Mary", that's a fake name because she wants her identity protected fearing retaliation.

Her daughter is a 2012 graduate of Central Medical Magnet High School, but before she could graduate, her mother was forced to pay $1,500 for a dual credit class she took, that was part of a partnership Central had with the University of Texas at Austin.

ChemBridge is a pre-college curriculum offered by the UT to high schools that are generally underrepresented in institutions of higher education.

Director Eric Dieter, Ph.D, said, "We provide a college level curriculum that schools implement in their classrooms."

And once complete a student gets credit for high school and six credit hours in introductory college chemistry for non-majors.

Central takes part in the program, and so did Mary's daughter back in the 2011-12 school year.

Mary says administrators at Central charged her $1,000 dollars per semester, and when she could not come up with the $2,000 for the entire year, she was forced to take out a loan, and even then could only pay $1,500, but her daughter was allowed to graduate.

Before we contacted UT, we checked with BISD.  Spokesperson Nakisha Myles says the district charges $400 a semester per student, a lot less than $1,000 a semester, but still more than the $275 a year per student that UT charges for the program.

Dieter said, "It as surprising to us, it's not the cost that we have contracted with the schools to pay, if there are additional costs, they're doing something else, we don't really know."

Dieter says UT bills the participating school districts, but he could not comment where the districts get the money.  However the program is aimed at districts that have disadvantaged students and as a result get Title 1 federal funds, and in many cases we're told districts cover the expense for students.

Dieter said, "If a school is Title 1, then there should theoretically be funding for them to pay...to offset the cost for students and their families."

District Attorney Crenshaw released the following statement:

"The 12News report from last night (Monday) while disappointing, not surprising, considering what the Task Force has learned in its investigation thus far.  Such alleged behavior by employees of BISD is similar to other scams that have been reported to us and we are working diligently to investigate. The past few months have been successful as many people with knowledge of wrongdoing have come forward.  Next, we will organize that information and begin to call both witnesses and some targets before a grand jury.  I anticipate that process will be lengthy as we will call dozens and possibly hundreds of people to testify.  We ask for the community's continued patience in our effort to bring more criminals to justice."


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