Friday, August 27, 2010

Long Live The Child Welfare Fraud Whistleblowers

This happens so many times.  An administrator reports child welfare fraud and is fired, or "does not have their contract renewed" by the public body that was reported to higher authorities. Then, the whistleblowers take the action into a court of law and face a bottomless legal war chest of public funding, out spending the whistleblowers in technically dilatory motions, until the whistleblower is left, weighing their hopes of future financial survival of their families when they can no longer afford the attorney fees to fight for their jobs and reputations.

I am taking wagers that the case will be dismissed and Art Rendon will be left applying to temp agencies after the out-of-court settlement and it will be business as usual at BISD.  The "opinions" are similar in just about every case I have had the opportunity to review.  Rulings will come down that the "whistleblower" stepped outside of their assigned duties by reporting to an external authority, whereby establishing a violation of contractual agreement.

I honor all whistleblowers, relators and anyone who has the fortitude to stand up and report fraud.

A Lawsuit is not always to gain money, it can also be used as a public speaking platform to convey a more powerful message of a public issue.

Rendon files whistleblower suit against BISD
The Brownsville Herald  August 26, 2010

By Gary Long, The Brownsville Herald, Texas
Aug. 26--Former Special Services administrator Art Rendon has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the Brownsville Independent School District fired him in retaliation for revelations he made about mismanagement and fraud in the district's special education department.
Attorneys for Rendon filed the suit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Brownsville against BISD, trustees Rolando Aguilar, Joe Colunga, Ruben Cortez and Rick Zayas, individually and in their official capacities, and Superintendent Brett Springston, individually and in his official capacity.
It claims that BISD violated Rendon's First Amendment free-speech rights and his 14th Amendment due-process rights and that the district's actions constitute "whistleblower retaliation."
BISD, the four trustees and Springston "conspired, plotted and schemed" against Rendon "in an attempt to silence and intimidate Plaintiff," the lawsuit says.
"Plaintiff would not keep silent on the abuse within his department of Special Services at BISD. He witnessed firsthand the deprivation of his students' constitutional due-process rights and unjust harm being done to their physical and mental well-being.
"Because of this, Plaintiff was harassed, defamed, investigated, placed on administrative leave with pay for an entire school year, and ultimately nonrenewed from his position as administrator of Special Services," the lawsuit says.
It also contends that once Rendon "began to speak out on matters he deemed to be illegal, the District conspired, plotted and orchestrated the nonrenewal of his Chapter 21 contract" in violation of his 14th Amendment due-process rights.
The lawsuit says Rendon attempted to resolve the matter through BISD's grievance process but that ultimately "BISD ended Plaintiff's longstanding career as an educator and administrator with BISD."
Prior to the actions mentioned in the lawsuit, Rendon had worked for BISD for 24 years.
The whistleblower retaliation claims involve Rendon contacting Hershel Price, a Medicaid fraud investigator, the Cameron County District Attorney's Office, and Texas Ranger Roland Casteneda to voice "his concerns and fears about what he believed to be systemic fraud and abuse of the system.
"Plaintiff explained in detail and outlined his suspicions of how the system was being abused by BISD employees and its legal counsel, Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos and Green, P.C. In an effort to profit at the expense of children with special needs, and at the expense of taxpayers, BISD and Walsh wanted Plaintiff to ignore the misdiagnoses of special needs students, the due-process violations occurring in the Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) conferences and the due-process hearing violations."
Because of his actions, Rendon "began to suffer disparate treatment" and attempted to remedy the situation through BISD's grievance process.
"Plaintiff was doing anything and everything reasonably necessary to save his twenty plus tenure at BISD; but, because of the truth disclosed, the same led to Plaintiff's nonrenewal," the lawsuit says.
BISD would not comment on the lawsuit, citing its longstanding policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit seeks economic damages, past and future, based on Rendon's $102,000 annual salary as Special Services administrator until the end of his work life, approximately eight years.
In addition it seeks compensation for mental anguish, past and future, at an amount to be determined by the jury, general damages, reinstatement of position, reasonable attorney fees, cost of suit, all other relief the court deems reasonable and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest as allowed by law.
No trial date has been set.
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