HISD superintendent pledges to earn shaken trust of special ed parents

After years of disturbing clamor, the ugly, indisputable truth was finally revealed -- Houston ISD, the nation's seventh largest school district, had purposely denied special ed services to tens of thousands of eligible students.

In the scandal's wake, incoming Superintendent Richard Carranza has asked parents to share their pain, and at a forum this morning they unloaded.

"They deny me. They don't answer my calls. They just delaying it and delaying it and delaying it," said Latonia Green whose rearing her disabled grandson.

"Eventually we had to remove our son because he was being damaged too badly," said parent Leslie Culhane.

"We are looking at moving out of the district at this point, because it’s been three and a half years with no services," said Caroline Cheevers who is mother to three children with severe disabilities.

Among the tales of conflict and denial was the ordeal of Alicia Quiroz.

"No parent, no student should have to go through the crap I've been through. Has anybody been divorced? Divorce now is a piece of cake compared to what I had to go through with HISD," said Quiroz.

Promised top to bottom reform and fresh direction, parents responded with 

"There's been too much damage for us to come in here and say 'this is great!'" said parent Jane Frio.

Calling special education his "top priority", Superintendent Carranza issued a personal pledge.

"What we are saying is, you shouldn't trust us. We are going to earn your trust and I just want a fair shake," said Carranza.

It's a commitment backed by the Board of Education of better resources, better assessment and better collaboration with parents.

"There's a great deal of dysfunction and inconsistency in the services offered at different schools and there is a lot of training that needs to happen so that every teacher, every principal, every para-professional knows how to support parents," said Anne Sung, an HISD Trustee who is heading an internal review of the district's special ed practices and programs.

Parents will have a final opportunity to speak out at a third and final forum set for May 17.