GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - It may just be the most controversial home in North Texas.
Now the place where Grand Prairie's Superintendent Susan Hull used to live is under construction once again.
The 4-bedroom, 3-bath home is about 2,700 square feet and was last appraised for $413,000 by the Dallas County Appraisal District.
GPISD bought the home in 2016 for $694,000 with plans to expand nearby Garner Fine Arts Academy.
Those plans never materialized.
Instead Dr. Hull moved in and rented the property for $2,000 per month. Her administration then spent $130,000 in district money on renovations and upgrades without telling trustees.
Once the spending became public, the school board promised a full investigation. Trustees hired a law firm that spent ten months interviewing employees and poring through documents.
After almost $363,000 in legal fees, the firm found no wrongdoing. In August 2018, the board voted to allow Dr. Hull to move out of the home and out of the district, after she cited safety and privacy concerns.
Now the home is undergoing more renovations.
Trustees approved a plan to spend $354,000 to turn the property into a facility for special education students. The pool has been removed; in its place sit a pergola, adaptable playground and a trike track. There are also new ramps, parking spaces and a new gate.
Inside workers are installing ADA-compliant bathrooms and a new security system.
There are also plans for an equine therapy program, to take advantage of the property's horse barn. A spokesman says the district will contract with an outside program at a cost that is not yet known.
Named RISE, the district says the property will be unlike any other facility in North Texas.
"In my opinion this is one of the greatest things that GPISD can do," said trustee Aaron King.
Trustee Steve Pryor echoed, "I think it's a great use of the property - I think it will help the district." About 360, or 15% of GPISD's roughly 2,400 special education students are expected to visit the home in the first year to learn life, leisure and vocational skills. A spokesman says the students will be bussed there 20 days, which is about 2-3 days per month on average.
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