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Posts published in December 2016

Groundbreaking for new college in Aldine

EAST ALDINE – After years of planning by several trustee boards, last Thursday saw the start of construction for an educational facility that promises to bring great changes to the Aldine area.

Shovels of dirt were turned at a symbolic groundbreaking, held indoors at the AISD nutrition center on Aldine-Bender, due to poor site conditions on the 61 acre Town Center site on Aldine Mail Route. Several hundred educators, government officials, and interested public attended the ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony were Congressman Gene Green, State Representative Armando Walle, East Aldine District’s Richard Cantu and David Hawes, Lone Star College Chancellor Steven Head, Aldine ISD superintendent Wanda Bamberg, and the president of the North Harris college, Dr. Gerald Napoles.

The Lone Star College will have up to 1800 students, in a building that is 65,700 square feet in size. Insturction will take place in seven classrooms, four computer labs, and a science lab. There will be training labs for Nurse’s aide, phlebotomy, and building trades, electrical, HVAC, and welding.

The Early College High School will have up to 450 students in a 45,560 square foot bulding. It will constian 12 classrooms, two computer labs, science labes, fine arts, a gymnasium and a flex space.

The facilities are part of the new East Aldine Town Center, which will also include a campus for the Neighborhood Centers Inc., the Harris County Sheriff’s 911 Call Center, and commercial and office buildings for the District, and outdoor public areas including an amphitheater and access to Keith Wiess park..

When completed in 2018, the center is expected to bring a major change in educational and work opportunities for residents of the Aldine area.

Lone Star College Board of Trustees names new officers

HOUSTON (Dec.7, 2016) – Members of the Lone Star College Board of Trustees selected Dr. Alton Smith to serve as chairman of the board.

Smith represents District 3 in the Lone Star College System. The vote was made at the December board meeting.

“I am grateful to the board members for their trust in me,” said Smith. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members and the chancellor to continue the mission of Lone Star College.”

Other officer positions that the board appointed at the Dec. 1 meeting: Dr. Kyle Scott as vice chairman of the board, Ken Lloyd as board secretary, and newly-elected Trustee Myriam Saldivar as assistant secretary.

Saldivar ran unopposed for the District 6 trustee position and becomes the first Latina to serve on the Lone Star College board.

“Lone Star College is fortunate to have such a strong team of people serving on its board,” said Dr. Stephen C. Head, LSC chancellor. “Their passion for education is truly inspiring and I look forward to continue working with them to provide affordable higher education to the members of our community.”

In addition to selecting officers, the three board members who won their Nov. 8 elections were sworn into office including Saldivar, District 6, and incumbents Linda Good, District 7, and David Vogt, District 5, who were both re-elected to another six-year term.

Board officers are selected at the first regular meeting following trustee elections, which are held every two years in November of even-numbered years. Trustees, who serve six-year terms, are elected by voters who live in the LSC in-district for which the single member district election is being held.

LSC trustees serve staggered terms – three of nine trustees come up for election every two years – so that there are always experienced members sitting on the board.

Public Safety Partnerships Lead to Crime Reduction for North Houston District

HOUSTON – Since its launch in March, the seven-member Harris County Task Force has been engaged in operations addressing issues like burglary and theft, which are typical crimes throughout a big city like Houston. Thanks to partnerships like this, and others, the North Houston District is experiencing an overall decrease in crime.

“When comparing last year to this year, this area has seen an 11 percent decrease in violent crime,” said Tracy Harrison, the District’s public safety director. “Our partnerships with local law enforcement allow us to focus on specific concerns and build relationships between the community and the officers on patrol. We definitely want to catch the bad guys, but we also dedicate resources to activities that help prevent crime in the first place,” Harrison added.

The Harris County Task Force is the newest of the public safety programs provided by the District. It has made more than 500 arrests since its inception. In addition to targeted police operations, the team participates in community outreach and visits with residents and business owners. The goal of these interactions is to increase collaboration between the community and police and provide practical tips for crime prevention.

“It’s part of our charge to care for the safety of the area in a way that delivers results and maximizes resources,” said Greg Simpson, North Houston District president. “A highly visible location and a mix of different types of development have led us to implementing a layered approach. We start by addressing overall district-wide concerns and then drill down to more specialized needs, like those of our businesses and our public parks.”

The layered approach includes community-building services and activities. The Public Safety Center at Greenspoint Mall is the result of District advocacy and partnerships. It is open to the public Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and serves as a neighborhood police storefront. The center can be reached by calling 281-875-6155.

In October, the District spearheaded the area’s first community-wide National Night Out with more than 500 attendees. For another outreach event, Harrison works with local apartment communities to host “Hoops and Heroes,” which focuses on building relationships between law enforcement and area youth. To support local property managers and employers, she facilitates crime prevention meetings to deliver information and resources to residents and employees. For more information on public safety events and services, log on to our website or call 281-874-2131.

Justice Department settles lawsuit against Aldine ISD

The Justice Department announced that it reached a settlement with the Aldine, Texas, Independent School District resolving allegations that the district discriminated against work-authorized non-citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The district is the ninth largest school district in the state with an enrollment of almost 70,000 students.

The department’s investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), found that Aldine required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents when reverifying their employment eligibility once their original documents expired. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying or reverifying an employee’s authorization to work. Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose whichever valid documentation they would like to present from the lists of acceptable documents to prove their work authorization, and employers cannot limit employees’ choice of documentation because of their citizenship or national origin.

“Employers must ensure that their human resources staff understand proper hiring practices,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The INA prohibits discrimination because of citizenship status and the Civil Rights Division continues to enforce this statute around the country to remind all employers of their compliance obligations as well as to vindicate the rights of employees.”

As part of the agreement, Aldine will revise its policies and procedures, pay a $140,000 civil penalty and implement a three-year program to train employees, students and students’ parents on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. Specifically, the training program, which will be developed by Aldine staff, will be focused on educating adult participants in Aldine’s parent literacy/English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, 12th grade students enrolled in certain classes and the school district’s employees.

OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php, email osccrt@usdoj.gov or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee should contact OSC’s worker hotline for assistance. Trial Attorney Richard Crespo of the Civil Rights Division handled this matter.

STATEMENT BY ALDINE ISD REGARDING SUIT:

When notified by the DOJ, the District took immediate corrective action to train staff and revise its procedures for verifying and re-verifying employment eligibility.

The District values the contribution of all employees and we are committed to promoting a workplace free of discrimination.