Chron quotes, doesn't identify, admitted thief in North Forest ISD story

A Chronicle story by Cynthia Leonor Garza earlier this week described problems in the North Forest ISD, focusing on the district's controversial superintendent.

Here's an interesting excerpt:

Just two years ago, the newly hired Simpson sat in front of a packed auditorium at Forest Brook High School and said the moment marked "a new beginning" for the district plagued by past problems.

Then, three of the district's schools were recognized by the state, five were acceptable and three were unacceptable.

Since then, things have gone "from OK to bad to worse," said Cynthia Bailey, a parent and executive director of Sure Thing, a North Forest area after-school program. "Instead of going up we're going down."

That wouldn't be the same Cynthia Bailey who pleaded guilty in 2005 to stealing over $200,000 from the district, and the same Cynthia Bailey who is awaiting sentencing that will take place next month?

Why yes, by all indications, it would be the same Cynthia Bailey!

Perhaps Cynthia Bailey wasn't the best person to quote in a story about problems at North Forest ISD.

UPDATE: In the comments, Sedosi points out that KHOU-11 just ran a story on this topic that did include the important facts omitted/ignored by the Chronicle. Here's an excerpt from the KHOU story:

When 11 News checked out a school protest, we discovered that several people are charged in numerous schemes to take money from schools.

It was a small protest, regardless Cynthia Bailey let us know about it.

“The board need to get rid of the superintendent,” she said.

She runs an after school program and is angry at North Forest’s poor academic ratings.

Prosecutors say she has also pled guilty to stealing from the very same district.

When asked if she thought $250,000 was a lot of money, “But that’s not going to educate our kids,” she said.

Although she denied that she took the money, she pleaded guilty.

Officials said Bailey, Louis Lamonte and Laimont Tubbs have all pleaded guilty to theft over $200,000. Bailey will soon testify against Valerie Gibson, a North Forest accounting clerk accused of signing the checks.

“Got about a quarter million dollars, deposited the checks in a bank in Las Vegas then transferred the money little by little, back to themselves,” said District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.

[snip]

“It really makes me mad. I could literally almost have a substation out there,” Rosenthal said.

That seems like pretty important information for the Chronicle to have omitted. The newspaper should at least issue a clarification to the story. Actually, they should have already done so.

UPDATE: The Chronicle's Charles Ward, filling in for reader representative James T. Campbell, emailed this response to my email to the Chronicle suggesting a clarification:

I also checked with the editor who handled the North Forest story. He acknowledged that you are correct about Bailey’s legal status and that the reporter and editors should have made the connection. However, he also felt that Ms. Bailey’s legal status did not affect the substance of her quote, as lots of people in the North Forest district share the same opinion. He said the Chronicle will cover the resolution of Bailey’s legal problem and, in the future, will be sure to note her legal status if it’s necessary to quote her. In essence, it was a judgment call about whether to run a clarification.

It was bad judgment from an inferior newspaper, to be blunt.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 08/10/06 02:16 PM | Print |

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