Dallas Morning News Virtually Ignores Criminal Nature of School District's Persistent Social Security ID Fraud
Those who don't understand why paid circulation at major metro newspapers has been declining steeply for at least the past five years need look no further than yesterday's disgraceful reporting by Tawnell D. Hobbs in the Dallas Morning News (DMN).
The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has been committing crimes that would cause private companies performing similar acts to be raided and/or shut down: issuing fake Social Security numbers to foreigner with visas and/or illegal immigrants to get them on the payroll.
This is serious stuff. Yet Hobbs and her paper did everything they could to minimize the impact of the story, as seen in these excerpts:
Dallas ISD faulted for using fake Social Security numbers
Years after being advised by a state agency to stop, the Dallas Independent School District continued to provide foreign citizens with fake Social Security numbers to get them on the payroll quickly.
Some of the numbers were real Social Security numbers already assigned to people elsewhere. And in some cases, the state's educator certification office unknowingly used the bogus numbers to run criminal background checks on the new hires, most of whom were brought in to teach bilingual classes.
The practice was described in an internal report issued in September by the district's investigative office, which looked into the matter after receiving a tip. The report said the Texas Education Agency learned of the fake numbers in 2004 and told DISD then that the practice "was illegal."
It's unclear how long DISD had been issuing the phony numbers, and district officials didn't know Thursday how many had been given out.
.... In recent years, DISD has hired people from various countries, including Mexico and Spain, to deal with a shortage of bilingual teachers.
..... The fake numbers were assigned as a stopgap to expedite the hiring process, the report says. The numbers were supposed to serve as temporary identification numbers until employees received real Social Security numbers.
..... In July, the district discovered that 26 of the false numbers were in use after matching DISD employee Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration database. The numbers were already being used in Pennsylvania.
The following obviously relevant words and terms do not appear in Hobbs's "coverage": crime, immigrant, felony, identity theft, and fraud. Even the politically correct weasel word "undocumented" wasn't used. Considering the subject matter, a reporter would have to work really, really hard to avoid using all of these words. But Hobbs was up to the challenge.
In an appropriately titled post yesterday ("Dallas school district committed 'systemic' Social Security fraud"), Ed Morrissey at Hot Air had some choice words for the DMN's poor choice of words, and raised issues that the paper's reporting seemed determined to avoid:
First, I love the headline on this article: “Dallas ISD faulted for using fake Social Security numbers." Er, faulted? Social Security fraud is a felony, not a policy disagreement. For that matter, why didn’t the Texas Education Agency report the practice to law enforcement? Their silence arguably makes them accessories to the crime.
Instead of hiring qualified teachers with American citizenship or legitimate residency, DISD recruited people from Mexico and encouraged them to work illegally in Dallas. Had they wanted them to work legally, they wouldn’t have created a process for falsifying Social Security numbers.
Is teaching a job Americans won’t do? Are there no bilingual educators in the US? Or was DISD just unwilling to pay a competitive rate for those instructors and conspired to get cheaper labor through fraud?
Hobbs is following what has apparently become a key commandment of metro reporting: Thou shalt avoid or minimize the significance of any news that might put the city's school district in a bad light -- no matter now shocking, negligent, or criminal. This commandment is one of many that has led to tanking circulations at major metro newspapers. If the papers won't give news consumers the unfiltered facts, why subscribe to them?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.