SAN ANTONIO -

2013 was a busy year for the KSAT 12 Defenders. The investigations brought changes that made a difference for many in the community.

One of those stories involved Northeast Independent School District.

The Defenders were tipped off by a former fire alarm panel inspector, who did not want to be identified.

"They hire people off the street, they put them in a position," the inspector said. "They might have some field background, but they don't have licenses."

The inspector was referring to NEISD using unlicensed technicians for routine inspections of the fire alarm panels in schools.

The Defenders investigated and confirmed that many of the district fire alarm techs who signed off on the jobs were not licensed and many of the inspections were done without the district's only licensed tech on site.

That's when San Antonio Fire Chief, Earl Crayton, stepped in.

"They had it partially correct that they did have staff that was licensed, but that licensed person has to be at every maintenance that is done," Crayton said. "We made them aware that it's a little more in depth than just being certified."

NEISD made the necessary changes, with requirements now in place where all their techs are licensed.

In May, the Defenders heard from CPS employee, Gus Fernandez, who found $2,000 in cash blowing around on a street in Leon Valley. 

Fernandez and his co-worker picked up the bills, and turned the money into Leon Valley authorities. "They were like, 'wow, that's a lot of money,' and they were shocked we were turning it in," said Fernandez. 

The cash went unclaimed, and despite having gotten a receipt from Leon Valley authorities when Fernandez turned the money in, they would not release it to him.

The Defenders found there was no city policy regarding found money. Following the story, Leon Valley adopted such a policy, and Fernandez and his co-worker got the $2,000 back.

Fernandez was thrilled, but said, "I didn't expect to have the call the Defenders to get (the money) out."

Last month, the Defenders did a story that filled our website and Facebook page with hundreds of comments.

A local vehicle state inspection company was routinely charging an extra service fee. 

The catch was that it was optional, and according to the company, you have the right to decline it. A woman who paid the extra fee called the Defenders to look into it.

"It's a little misleading and ridiculous. Who would optionally want to pay an extra fee if they don't have to?" said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. 

According to state law, you have the option to decline the $4.50 service fee charged by the San Antonio OIS shops.

The shop owner told the Defenders she was going to talk to the vehicle inspectors to be sure they are properly communicating with customers about the optional service.

The Defenders will continue to investigate issues and policies that affect the community in 2014.

You can reach us on this website, on Facebook, and on our Defender line at 351-1212 to share your concerns.

For a list of recent stories April Molina has done, click here.