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Friday, February 18, 2011

Alief ISD Bleeds A Family Dry...

Chuka Chibuogwo is 14-years-old, severely autistic and largely unaware that the Alief Independent School District has targeted his family with an ongoing federal law suit that could bankrupt his parents.

During a contentious dispute with the Chibuogwos over how best to educate Chuka, Alief ISD has run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees since 2007 and been working ever since to force the middle class, immigrant family to pick up it's tab.

"Basically what they are trying to do is run me and my family on to the street ," said Chuka's father Kenneth Chibuogwo.

Turns out, the special needs student at the center of the storm wasn't the only person oblivious to the on-going legal battle.

That's because until FOX 26 told them last October, each and every member of the Alief school Board claimed to have had no knowledge that local taxpayers were bankrolling a quarter million dollar courthouse campaign against the parents of a disabled child.

That could be a problem because both Texas law and Alief's own published board policy clearly state the elected board alone has the authority to sue on behalf of the district.

Last October, after first learning of the lawsuit, the board met behind closed doors to discuss the case with then Alief Superintendent Louis Stoerner and school attorney Erik Nichols .

During this executive session, trustees could have halted the litigation against the Chibogwus, but decided instead to continue the lawsuit . No vote was taken in public and the district is still paying the mounting legal bills.

"If they took action at that meeting that is a serious violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. That is the very thing the Texas Open Meetings Act is designed to prevent is secret meetings, secret actions, the people's business being carried out in a back room basically," said Larsen.

In an open records request, FOX 26 News asked for official proof of a public vote delegating power to the superintendent to sue.

On January 20th Alief ISD admitted it had no proof. FOX 26 asked board member Hansen to explain his claim.

"I can't as a board member speak on these matters. I can't do it!," exclaimed Hansen at Tuesday's AISD board meeting.

Board watch dog Hermann has filed a detailed criminal complaint against the AISD board, school attorney Nichols and his law firm Rogers, Morris & Grover.

The Harris County District Attorneys office will not confirm the case is under investigation, but is not denying it either.

A kid denied education, a school district suing parents, accusations of criminal back room dealing by the elected board.

Clearly, Alief has a problem.
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