TUSD Feds Probe: TUSD parent finally hears from Feds

TUSD Feds Probe: TUSD parent finally hears from Feds

CREATED Sep. 17, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- There's a new development in KGUN9's investigation of abused and neglected special needs students in the Tucson Unified School District.

At least one parent just got something she's been waiting for a long time: attention.

As KGUN9 has been reporting, in 2011 the Feds found that TUSD had violated the civil rights of 14 special needs students. The Office of Civil Rights or OCR ordered changes and promised to monitor compliance. Despite that promise, some families told KGUN9 they never heard from OCR  again.

But in the wake of KGUN9's stories, that may be changing.

For years, Kathy Winslow Richmond has been fighting for her son, who is learning disabled. Eventually the Federal Office of Civil Rights found in her favor --ruling that TUDF had  neglected her son. A TUSD administrator met with her a year and a half ago to give her the news.

"The meeting was to discuss the OCR findings and discuss options of what they were going to do about him being so far behind because of their lack to educate him," said Richmond.

But she said, the meeting did not end well and she pulled 17-year-old Brian out of school. "My case was not resolved. All they offered me was summer school," said Kathy.

After that, she heard nothing -- until now.

Reporter Valerie Cavazos asked, "Did OCR ever contact you after that?"
Kathy: "No."
Cavazos: "So this is the first time that you've heard from OCR?"
Kathy: "Right."
Cavazos: "They said to you, what?"
Kathy: "They were questioning me about that same meeting."

Kathy is referring to a conversation from this month, when an OCR attorney contacted her by phone.
According to Kathy, that attorney told her the office was under the impression that the 2011 meeting had resolved her case.

Cavazos asked, "Did they actually use those words .. under the impression?"
Kathy: "Pretty much."
Cavazos: So they were under the impression that the issue was resolved, and you told them what?"
Kathy: "I told them no way it was not. They did not offer me anything but summer school. Now I have a child who's almost 18. And maybe 6 credits."

Cavazos asked Kathy what she wants TUSD to do now. Her answer:  provide tutoring services so her son can keep up with  teacher's instructions.

Cavazos: "So you believe it's your right to have that tutoring service?"
Brian: "Yes."
Cavazos: "And without it?"
Brian: "I'll still go to school and it will take me longer to graduate. I want to get it done quick."
Cavazos: "Do you think TUSD did it's job?
Brian: "No. I do not."

So bottom line:  After 18 months of silence, the Feds have contacted at least one of the original 14 families involved to check up on how things are going. KGUN9 doesn't know at this point whether any other families have received similar calls. Two parents told Cavazos that they'd sure like to hear from the Feds too.

Kathy told Cavazos that the attorney who called her did not say what the next step will be -- or even if there will be one.

9 On Your Side will keep on top of this and will bring you any new developments.