State Investigating Allegations of Abuse and Neglect in Longview Charter School System ISD | Local News

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect within the East Texas Advanced Academies.

East Texas Advanced Academies is a charter school that operates six campuses within Longview ISD: Bramlette STEAM Academy, JL Everhart, Johnston-McQueen, East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, and Forest Park Middle School.

Earlier this year, East Texas Advanced Academies CEO Cynthia Wise resigned and received a lump sum payment of $350,000. Several directors of ETAA campuses have also been replaced in recent months. ETAA and LISD officials offered little explanation for Wise’s resignation or major changes.

The News-Journal has submitted requests for information under state public information laws to ETAA and LISD officials, but records released so far have provided little insight. information about what could have happened. The ETAA and LISD have asked the Texas Attorney General’s office to determine whether any portions of the information must be disclosed under these laws.

Part of the News-Journal’s request to the ETAA asked:

“Copies of all complaints filed against Cynthia Wise and anyone else in the ETAA leadership (at the campus level or above) during the 2021-22 school year, along with any documentation showing the outcome of the investigations about such complaints – including internal reports and e-mails to, from, and between officials of ETAA, LISD, or TEA regarding such investigations and their results (in its response to this part of the request, ETAA’s attorney said “there are no relevant documents”) and

“Copies of all complaints regarding the behavior of special education/life skills teachers and staff on ETAA campuses during the 2021-22 school year, as well as any written reports detailing the results of investigations of such complaints, including internal memoranda, reports, and communications to, from, or between LISD, ETAA, or TEA officials regarding the complaints.”

The request regarding complaints about special education personnel on ETAA campuses prompted the charter school system to ask the Texas AG office to determine whether this information should be disclosed and to notify the Department of Texas Family and Protective Services Information Request.

This week, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services sent the News-Journal a copy of a letter it sent to the AG’s office with its arguments as to why the information should not be released under state law.

“On March 9, 2022, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services…received notice from the attorney for Advanced Academies of East Texas…that an applicant was seeking information provided to the department by ETAA regarding abuse or neglect of children attending ETAA facilities on Longview Independent School District campuses,” the letter states. “DFPS is conducting an ongoing investigation into the abuse and/or neglect of children in one or several LISD schools where ETAA has a campus. We believe that any requested information regarding the ongoing DFPS investigation is excluded from public release. ..”

ETAA Board Chairman Alan Amos and LISD spokesman Matthew Prosser did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the investigation.

Jeremy S. McLain