After some extensive research over the last month, I have come across even more unsettling information about how business is run in the great administration of Kennedale ISD.  Of course this is all under the watchful eyes of the Kennedale ISD school board.  If you found it upsetting and unethical for an administrator to run a private (for profit) business out of the district at an unseemly discount, then you are going to be struck speechless as I peel back the next curtain. You will discover that there are children of administrators that have also profited from how this administration works within what can be described as an ethically “Gray” area of business, policies, and laws.

It is interesting to see how the administration and school board members (or their spouses) have gone on a rampage attacking me and my family personally (or threatening in a few cases) within the community, directly to us, or surreptisuously on their facebook pages.  One thing that is the most obvious about it is that you will see they aren’t actually discussing the merits of the questions I have raised or the very unethical activities that have taken place and, in at least the I-zone situation, still taking place.  They attack the messenger because they cannot counter the facts of the message that has been revealed for others to see.

Let’s break into the facts shall we.  From roughly 2005 to 2009 Ian Furman (the son of Assistant Superintendent Karen Furman) was paid by the district for the job of translating written items from English to Spanish.  I know that your first instinct would be, “What??? A child of an administrator was paid with district funds to perform services through the department that they run???”  I was shocked as well.  I am sure they will say that there was some kind of bidding process or proposal made and he was the cheapest or the “only” one to offer.  But let’s look at the mere appearance of this matter.  Translation services are not a rare commodity.  In fact I would wager a bet that they could have had these same items translated by people already on the payroll within the district.  I mean Kennedale ISD had ESL staff members (until the ESL program was dismantled in a special meeting) and there are several Spanish teachers already getting a paycheck.

Even if they weren’t able to provide the immediate service I am betting that Region XI would have been able to provide some already available and previously approved area sources for the translations services.  It isn’t like that skill is so rare in Texas that Ian Furman was only one of a small few who could have offered this service to the department his mother ran for the district.

In an age of accountability, ethics, transparency, and limited funding, should the district even allow a direct family member of an administrator to be eligible to provide services of this manner?  Even if they were able to justify it using a “gray” interpretation of nepotism policies by saying Gary Dugger approved him as the source of the district’s translation services and not his mother, it does not remove the fact that the work he was doing and being paid for was in under the direct supervision of his mother Karen Furman since she was head of Special Programs at the time.  All of the invoices for his job are run directly through Special Programs.  Karen or her personal secretaries are the ones who requested the payments or submitted the invoices.  In some of the paperwork they are the original requestors or the first to approve the direct financial interests for Ian Furman.

The very first time that Ian was to be paid you can see that Karen approved the request that funding be set aside from various accounts specifically for translation services done by Ian Furman.  That might not shock you since I have already stated she had a personal interest in his being paid.  What should interest you is that she signed the request at the bottom of the page 2 days (9-16-2005) before he turned in his first and original letter asking to provide these services to the district (9-18-2005).  Unless she has the super power to see into the future and knew he was going to be asking for this job or that he would even be the one to receive the translation job for the district, this seems a bit out of sorts to me.  You will also see that one of the earliest bill sent to the district by Ian Furman states that he was doing work for the district on August of 2005 to October of 2005.  This was a month before he even wrote his letter for the job and was approved to provide those services by his mother and Gary Dugger.

Next you will also notice on the paperwork that Ian was only in the DFW metroplex during 1 or 2 of the receipts he sent the district.  All other times his payments and her receipts were sent out town or even out of the state.  The majority of the time that Ian was “performing” his services for the district he was either in New Orleans, LA or Houston, TX.  You mean to tell me that we couldn’t find someone local to do translation services?

The funny business with the paperwork doesn’t stop there.  It would be very important to note at this point that not all of the funding used to pay Ian Furman for doing work under his mother’s department was from general funding (thanks to the generous taxpayers).  They actually paid him out of federal funds.  There are several pieces of paperwork that show in some ways he was paid for through Title 1, Title 2, and Title 3 funding.  This might not mean much to the non-school personnel people, but what it says to those who know about federal funding is that if these activities are unethical or improper; this could jeopardize future federal funding for the district.  There are very strict rules on how federal funding is to be spent.  I would assume there are also very strict rules on who can be paid through this funding.  I don’t know personally if there is any breach of law or ethics here.  But, when dealing with the money that helps aide the students in a district, NO administration should take even a slight chance that paying their own child through the department they run could cost everyone to lose that funding.

Based on how the numbers seem to add up, and I will admit it is difficult to follow all of the math and all the various funding they pulled money from to pay Karen’s son, it looks like over the time span of 4 or 5 years Ian was paid close to $10,000.  Again you can look through the paperwork I attached to the blog and do the math on your own.  I am not an accountant so I could be wrong about that figure, I can tell you that it was in the bare minimum thousands of dollars.

Names and titles to note on the different paperwork that need some clarification would help when you look over the paperwork I am sure.  Elementary Education was the Department Karen was in charge of before she took over almost all areas of education within the administration.  Special Programs was the name of her department before she became the head of Elementary Education.  Now her department is just Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (pretty much everything but paperwork and toilets).  Paula Hommel, whose name appears as requestor or approver on many items was Karen’s personal secretary for several years before she was unceremoniously let go (not sure on all the details of that one so we won’t go into it right now).  Wonder if she asked too many questions?  Julie Zuniga was Paula’s replacement as Karen’s personal secretary.  Gary Dugger is the Superintendent of the district and he seems to have signed off on many of the requests or payments.  I am sure he was well aware of the relationship between Ian and Karen.

Each of the payment pages shows Ian listed as a vendor.  He has been given a vendor number and the reference number on each payment sheet is just listed as Karen Furman.  I have requested all vendor conflict of interest pages and there were none for him or his mother filled out.  In fact as I have reported in other blogs there seem to be no conflict of interests at all in Kennedale based on the 9 pages of forms I have previously published when discussing the I-zone information.  If you are curious to see those pages you can download them from the “Risky Business” entry in my blogs.  So, it would seem that from 2005-2009 neither Karen Furman the administrator, nor her son, Ian Furman, the vendor filled out the conflict of interest paperwork that is stated in the school board policies posted online for anyone to see.  I am sure there is a good explanation as to why the parties involved in these “vendor” transactions failed to meet the requirements of those policies.  I don’t know if that is something that is even looked at when the district submits itself to audits, but I can’t imagine someone didn’t at least raise an eyebrow to it if I crossed their path.

I have to say I was a little taken back by the fact that Ian gave himself a raise in his second letter to the district in August of 2007 and at the very top of the letter you can see that it was approved by none other than his own mother.  Yep right at the top was Karen Furman’s good old John Hancock.  I can’t see how that doesn’t show a personal invested interest in monetary matters that affect both her son and the use of district funding.

Before anyone gets all riled up about this information I would like to point out that all of these FACTS were gained through the publicly available information I received through my open records requests to the district.  All of the forms that you can download to check my statements were provided through the hard work of Rick Edwards and his office to fulfill my request (shout out).  So before anyone goes making more hubbub and threats to try and silence my first amendment rights, they should really look to the issues that are completely held within these factual, publicly available documents.  If the documents and the facts paint people within the administration and the school board in a negative light, I would suggest you look at the mess of your house instead of trying to attack the person pointing the mess out to the community.  If the house didn’t have such questionable “messes” to begin with, then the district wouldn’t have to be so defensive and aggressive to the people who stumble upon the mess and points it out.  I would also like to point out that I did alter the documents that can be downloaded in one way.  When I asked for these documents, the district failed to redact and hide Ian Furman’s personal social security number.  I took it upon myself to cover those numbers up to protect that information before posting the documents.

So, where does this take us and what questions does this raise?  Well, for one thing I am beginning to see a pattern of questionable behavior afforded certain members of this administration.  It also sets us up for the next blog were we will see that this may have set the stage for another administrator to also find a place within Kennedale ISD for their child.  It looks like this is where the good old Green and Black started operating more in the “Gray”.

To access the Ian Furman Documents please click Ian Furman