BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) – The Brownsville Independent School District misdiagnosed students with bogus psychological tests in “an effort to profit at the expense of children with special needs,” and get federal and state funding, the former head of the district’s “special services” department claims in Federal Court.
Arthur Rendon says BISD directors fired him after he contacted a Medicaid fraud investigator, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, a Texas Ranger and the FBI, to report what he believed was “systemic fraud and abuse of the system.”
Rendon claims that a consulting firm BISD hired to review the tests determined they were “not scientifically valid.”
He claims the district’s legal counsel and Corpus Christi attorney Christopher Jonas, who represented BISD parents and their “special needs children,” profited from the testing, as it led to excessive due process hearings about the children’s educational needs, and “outrageous” bills for legal services.
The BISD placed Rendon on a 1-year paid suspension, then fired him in retaliation for reporting the fraud to authorities, he says in his 26-page complaint.
Rendon sued BISD, its Board of Trustees, and the district’s interim Superintendent Brett Springston.
He seeks reinstatement, annual damages of $102,000 – his salary, and damages for defamation, whistleblower retaliation and constitutional violations.
Rendon is represented by Frank Perez of Brownsville.
Bilingual education programs can bring federal money to a school district, as can “special ed” programs for children who score poorly on standardized tests – a common occurrence for children who speak English as a second language.
Fast-growing Brownsville, pop. 177,000, is the closest major U.S. town to the mouth of the Rio Grande, on the U.S.-Mexico border. Its minority population exceeds 92 percent. Its median income of $27,769 is about 55 percent of the Texas and U.S. median incomes. “Poverty level” income for a family of 4 is $22,050, according to federal standards. More than 36 percent of Brownsville residents qualify. Unemployment in the city is 13 percent.