GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – An investigation into spending at Grand Prairie ISD led Consumer Justice to a legal case involving the husband of Superintendent Susan Hull.

In February 2015, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Kent Hull on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a felony. According to an affidavit, Hull threatened his adult stepson with a knife before swinging a bar stool at him. The stepson told police “that it instead struck Susan in the head knocking her over. [The stepson] huddled over Susan to protect her, but Kent continued to strike him with the stool in the head.”

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It was around the same time that Grand Prairie ISD began paying a new vendor. HydroBrite is a pressure washing company owned by James Dunbar. Dunbar’s mother Colleen represented Kent Hull in his criminal case.

screen shot 2018 08 15 at 6 26 31 pm Following The Money: Questions Surround Grand Prairie ISD Vendor

HydroBrite and Colleen Dunbar’s legal office share an address in Dallas.

Since 2015 GPISD has written checks to HydroBrite totaling more than $140,000. Hull’s case was dismissed in November 2017 after he completed counseling and anger management courses.

PRESSURE WASHING PAYMENTS

In February 2015, HydroBrite sent an itemized quote to the district offering to pressure wash every school, stadium and playground for $49,500.32. An email from the district that same month instructed Dunbar to clean all the elementary schools once a year, in August. HydroBrite’s Facebook page shows the company cleaning entry ways and sidewalks at various campuses. The company submitted three invoices over the summer, with the final payment made in August.

The district made the same deal in 2016: $49,000 to pressure wash all schools. This time the quote was not itemized but Dunbar sent in three separate invoices, like the year before. And like 2015, the district made the last payment in August.

The same month another company also invoiced GPISD for pressure washing all schools. The district paid HydroBrite and the other company on August 25. When Consumer Justice asked the district about the payments, a spokesman said HydroBrite removed graffiti, gum, rust and oil stains while the other company washed from the front doors to the curb.

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In 2017, the district paid HydroBrite $43,000 for pressure washing “multiple campuses.” A Facebook post by the company in August shows work at the entry ways and sidewalks with the caption, “at it again.”

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office dismissed Kent Hull’s case in November.

Payments to HydroBrite have decreased dramatically so far in 2018. Check registers posted on GPISD’s website show approximately $2,100 in payments to HydroBrite for the year. As of this report, the district had not posted registers for May, June, or July 2018. In early August the district told Consumer Justice it had “made no determination” about which company would pressure-wash the schools this summer. A follow-up inquiry in mid-August has not been answered.

While the relationship with HydroBrite does not appear to be illegal, it does raise questions for a district already dealing with transparency issues.

Dr. James Campbell Quick, a business professor who teaches ethics at UT Arlington, says in a situation like this, it’s important for all parties to be clear about the relationships at play.

“You ask the question, you put it out on the table and you figure out what’s the right thing to do,” said Professor Quick.

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Consumer Justice asked James Dunbar for an interview about his work for the district. In an email he said, “This is a huge misunderstanding and a small world situation.”

Dunbar went on to say that he wanted to meet to “clear all this up” but did not respond to our follow-up requests.

Colleen Dunbar did not respond to our emails. Dr. Hull declined to be interviewed. In an email, a district spokesman said Dr. Hull has no connection to HydroBrite.

Sources tell Consumer Justice the HydroBrite payments were part of the recent independent investigation into spending at GPISD. The information is not included in the nine-page summary released by the district.

Do you have a tip for Consumer Justice? Email us at consumerjustice@ktvt.com.