To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Share Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez, US Air National GuardFort Bend County is tallying the wreckage from Hurricane Harvey, more than half a year on. Officials now say the storm destroyed or damaged more than 6,800 homes.“Those damaged homes, a little over 3,000 of those happened up in the Canyon Gate/Cinco Ranch area of Fort Bend County,” said Jeff Braun, Fort Bend County’s emergency management coordinator.Fort Bend took more than 30 inches of rain during Harvey. Many residents learned the hard way that they lived in the Barker Reservoir flood pool, when both Barker and the neighboring Addicks Reservoir backed up.The county has waived some of its permit fees to help people who lost their homes to rebuild and recover. Braun said the county has also completed repairs on seven bridges, 18 water control structures, and some damaged roads. But he said much work remains to be done. X Listen 00:00 /00:42
Share Johnson said that first, the staff at ABS West told her Evan was responsible because he was punching and hitting. But then she saw a video recorded inside the classroom. According to Johnson, the video showed the teacher threatening to punch her son in the face. “It brought tears to my eyes because Evan was crouching in the corner and the teacher was sitting in a chair in front of him and other people were standing up over him,” she said.Then, Johnson said, one staff member pulled the teacher away while others restrained Evan, slamming him against the wall several times and later pinning him to the floor. News 88.7 has not been able to view the video independently.Months later, just talking about the ordeal upsets Evan.“I’m nothing but a freak!” he exclaimed, as his mom tried to calm him down. “Evan, Evan, tell me how you really felt that day — Did it hurt? Yes. Did you cry? Yes. Did you want me? Yes.” X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Johnson hoped that Evan would get to work with a board-certified behavior analyst — support that he needs to manage his autism. Evan also has a speech impediment and epilepsy.But on his second day at the campus last November, something went wrong. Johnson got multiples messages to come and get her son.“When I saw Evan, my heart sank into my stomach,” she said. “I had never seen him in such a state. His shirt was bloodied. His lips were split and bleeding. He was crying. He had abrasions all over his body.”What happened to Evan ended up triggering a state investigation, exposing what some call a loophole in how state administrators keep an eye on some special needs students in Harris County.Video Playerhttps://cdn.hpm.io/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/21152711/In-Depth-2018-08-21-at-3.25pm.mp400:0000:0000:13Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Laura Isensee/Houston Public MediaMelissa Johnson is joined by her son Evan, 21, on the right, and her daughter Cherise and son D.J. on the left.Ever since Evan Johnson was 3 years old, he’s attended public schools in the Cy-Fair Independent School District, northwest of Houston.He’s a tall and lanky 21-year-old, with a creative streak and a passion for trains.That changed last fall, when Cy-Fair district administrators told his mother, Melissa Johnson, that he’d be better served somewhere else.“And it sounded like, ‘Oh my gosh! This beautiful place — Why haven’t they sent him here sooner?!” Johnson recounted.It’s called the Academic and Behavior Support School West. It’s one of two special ed schools run by the Harris County Department of Education, which has its own board and collects its own taxes. The agency technically isn’t a school district, but it still enrolls over 200 special needs students through contracts with dozens of school districts in Greater Houston. 00:00 /04:02 Johnson believes that Evan was illegally restrained — state law says it’s supposed to be only for emergencies — and complained to the Texas Education Agency about that and other alleged violations, including that the facility failed to give him proper behavior interventions or prescribed psychological services.What’s more, her attorneys argued the alternative schools with the Harris County Department of Education have so little state oversight that vulnerable students are at risk.“Sadly, I feel that they’re dumping grounds for children that districts don’t want to handle,” said Dustin Rynders, a supervising attorney at Disability Rights Texas.Rynders explained that state education administrators fail to oversee the Harris County Department of Education, because students are counted as if they’re still enrolled at their original campus.“But it is still completely inexcusable that you would have two specialized campuses that have been around for a long, long time with rampant allegations and complaints and that the Texas Education Agency has never directly monitored them in any way,” Rynders said. News 88.7 asked the superintendent of the Harris County Department of Education about these allegations.The superintendent, James Colbert, Jr., said that they did their own review of what happened to Evan.“And I think there has been over-characterization of that incident,” Colbert said. “There were some things certainly that one of our staff members didn’t do properly and we addressed that administratively.”Colbert added that he can’t talk about specific disciplinary action, but, overall, he defends the schools, especially since his own personal and professional background is in special education.“I would never let us do anything wrong to a child and try to detriment their growth. And anyone who characterizes that are either misinformed or are just completely wrong, in my opinion,” Colbert said.As for the state investigation into what happened to Evan Johnson, the Texas Education Agency has closed its case, with a mixed decision.It maintains that it can’t monitor the Harris County Department of Education directly because it’s not a traditional school district.But the state agency sent a stern message to the Cy-Fair Independent School District, which contracted with the county facility for Evan’s education.State officials told Cy-Fair administrators that they’re accountable for how he was treated at the alternative school.Meanwhile, Melissa Johnson still hopes Evan can get the services he needs back in Cy-Fair, where he is about to start his final year in public education. Listen
Share Wednesday, October 24, 2018Top afternoon stories:Lawsuit against Waller County over alleged voter suppressionStudents at Prairie View A&M University have filed a federal lawsuit alleging Waller County is suppressing the voting rights of its black residents.The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the lawsuit in Houston on Monday on behalf of a group of five students. The lawsuit argues the county is violating the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution by not providing early voting locations on campus or in the city of Prairie View during the first week of early voting, which began on Monday. “The plaintiffs at Prairie View A&M, which is a predominately black school, are alleging that the county is not providing the same access to early voting on campus as it is in other parts of the county which are predominately white,” Teddy Rave, George Butler Research Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, told Houston Matters.During the second week of early voting, Waller County will have polls open Monday through Friday in Prairie View at two different locations. But one of the locations is off-campus and not easily accessible to students, according to the lawsuit.Rave told Houston Matters that for this particular case the strongest claim is the violation of the Voting Rights Act.When Houston Matters contacted Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis’s office, they directed us to a statement on their Facebook page from yesterday:Evan Vucci/APHillary Clinton and Barack Obama.“Suspicious packages” mailed to Clinton, Obama and CNNAt least five suspicious packages containing what the FBI called potentially destructive devices have been sent since Monday to several leading Democratic Party figures and to CNN in New York, triggering a massive investigation.Some of the devices “appear to be pipe bombs,” John Miller, New York Police Department deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said at a news conference Wednesday.“The packages are similar in appearance,” the FBI stated, “and contain potentially destructive devices.”They were addressed to George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan (care of CNN) and former Attorney General Eric Holder. All bore the return address of the office of U.S. Rep. and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.The packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior, and the FBI says it is “possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations.”Southeast Texas Regional Advisory CouncilCaptain Amy Taylor, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Symposium analyzes recent emergency situations in TexasOfficials with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management are participating this week in a symposium on health care preparedness that will analyze emergency situations that have impacted Texas, such as Hurricane Harvey and the shooting at Santa Fe High School.The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC) are hosting the three-day symposium, which started Wednesday and is taking place at the Galveston Island Convention Center.More than 400 health care professionals, first-responders, emergency managers and government officials will attend the three-day event, which will focus on experiences and lessons learned from recent natural disasters and mass casualty incidents.Besides Harvey and the Santa Fe shooting, Hurricane Maria and the Las Vegas shooting, as well as the Washington, D.C. Amtrak derailment, the Thailand cave rescue and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will be other topics discussed and analyzed at the event.