Education News

State Auditors Examining Harris County Department Of Education

The final report is expected to be released later this summer.


There are two counties in the entire state that have stand-alone education departments.

The one in Harris County manages an $80 million dollar budget.

Some have raised concerns about how it spends its funds. Now state officials are taking a closer look.

Later this summer, state auditors are expected to release their final report on the Harris County Department of Education. They’ve been examining the agency since last December.

Superintendent James Colbert told lawmakers about it at a hearing in April.

“We should have absolutely nothing to hide as far as I’m concerned and really they provide a free service for us for things that we need to fix. And so, that’s something that I’m open to,” Colbert said.

Critics contend the Harris County Department of Education has plenty to fix, from handling records requests to duplicating services with other agencies.

Its services include early learning, special education and adult education.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he wants to have a hearing in Austin after the audit is released.

“What I want this to come out with is an idea of ‘Do we have a model that works in Harris County, or do we need to change it?’” he said.

Earlier this year, Bettencourt and state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, tried to launch a Sunset review, starting with how the agency manages tax dollars.

Garcia said that she hopes the state audit will cover a broad scope.

“Again it’s all about making sure that they’re transparent, that they’re using competitive bidding, that there’s no favoritism or sweetheart deals. I mean that’s what you look for,” she said.

Tammy Lanier, spokeswoman with the Harris County Department of Education, said in an email that it’s committed implementing any and all recommendations from the audit to improve efficiency and transparency.



Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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