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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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DISD’s Alleged History of Bullying Whistleblowers

Education

Andrea Whelan previously worked for DISD | Image by WFAA

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As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Dallas Independent School District (DISD) is engaged in litigation with a former auditor who claims she found evidence of grade and attendance manipulation in at least one high school.

Andrea Whelan worked for DISD for nearly a decade, first as an investigator and then as an auditor. She was terminated by the district in March, allegedly in retaliation for reporting her findings to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

This is not the first time DISD has butted heads with whistleblowers and investigators at its Office of Internal Audit, an internal body charged with keeping the district honest by identifying instances of waste or fraud and evaluating the efficacy of operations.

Over the coming weeks, The Dallas Express will be taking a deep dive into some of the questionable practices exhibited by DISD, specifically in the realm of procurement.

Multiple whistleblowers have come forward over the years, putting their careers on the line in the name of transparency and accountability.

Like Whelan, some were allegedly fired in retaliation for shedding light on possible misconduct and violations of law by DISD employees, administrators, and even school board trustees.

While a good deal of The Dallas Express’ recent coverage on DISD has focused on holding the district to account for its failure to academically prepare Dallas students for future success, it is also important to remind the local taxpaying public of how district procurement practices have resulted in hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions, of taxpayer dollars being either wasted or unlawfully funneled to private vendors.

Much of what has been alleged occurred during former superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s 13-year tenure as head of the district, but many sitting school board trustees were also in office when auditors and whistleblowers raised concerns over significant irregularities in how DISD awarded vendor contracts and how much it paid for them.

Numerous documented overpayments for services, many in violation of Texas law, transpired under Hinojosa’s administration. Whether district leaders and employees intentionally allowed these payments to go through is unclear. What does seem clear, however, is that the DISD administration cut short the careers of employees who sought truth and transparency.

The Dallas Express will bring its readership up-to-date on the matter and then dig into whether the district is continuing to waste taxpayer money, or worse. Stay tuned.

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Mary Ellen Bluntzer
Mary Ellen Bluntzer
23 days ago

Thank you Dallas Express. These are not simple issues. They require diligent journalism and journalists with integrity.

djea3
djea3
23 days ago

I suggest that a parallel series be started on HOW TO LEGALLY protect yourself and your employment WHEN you become a whistle blower.

As I understand it there are steps that must be taken and proper ways of doing things BEFORE you blow the whistle. If you do it properly then you become almost untouchable.

Since the issue is waste and corruption, people need to know how to be the good guy and survive it! Write it up!!

Charlotte
Charlotte
22 days ago

GO DALLAS EXPRESS. We need true journalist inquiry into this. DISD MUST be held accountable. With the grave academic needs of DISD students there is NO ROOM for any mishandling of funds. We need EVERY PENNY to help the children of Dallas!

TexasRifle
TexasRifle
22 days ago

The question left unanswered here, or too briefly addressed is, if the employee filed her report with the state, then what was the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) conclusions, findings or actions, if any, based on the report? The article leads me to the conclusion that if TEA received the report in March and nothing has come of it so far, then the TEA found nothing actionable or compelling. Is Dallas Express going to follow up with TEA?

Jean
Jean
19 days ago

Grade manipulation is not only happening in just one school, its across the district. Very interesting to see what will become of this.