Members of the local NAACP Wednesday announced their concern over what they call unlawful activities by Beaumont Independent School District employees and contractors, the quality of education for black children, and what they call unfair scrutiny of BISD.
Pastor John Adolph of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church started the meeting with a prayer asking for healing. He said the community is in dire need of unity and harmony.
The group then began a news conference in which members took issue with statements insinuating that race has been placed above the quality of education at BISD, issues with voter districts, and what it calls demonizing of the district.
Pastor Adolph said, "If silence breeds consent, then we sent the wrong signal."
That wrong signal that Pastor Adolph fears is out there among the white community is that African-Americans condone alleged criminal activity at BISD.
Specifically, the group expressed disappointment in the two black financial officers, Devin McCraney and Sharika Allison, who have been charged with embezzling $4 million of taxpayer money.
NAACP executive director Paul Jones said, "We were just as angry as you were when the news broke, and it was a blow to the whole African-American community."
But for some in the audience, like Beaumont Councilman Mike Getz it seemed too little too late, Getz expressed skepticism and wondered why there was not more of an outcry from the black community about the district not making a claim for $2.1 million from a plea deal by BISD's electrical contractor Calvin Walker.
Pastor Adolph said he met with U.S. Attorney Malcolm Bales three times in hopes of recovering the money for the district.
Adolph said, "It's just tax dollars from Jefferson County, a Beaumont person who paid property taxes that's just gone, but the problem was that at that point we didn't have a united front then."
Without a united front, Adolph says it was impossible to convince the majority of the board to accept the forfeited money.
Walker was not pleased that he was part of the discussion at Wednesday's news conference, and he sent the following email to Paul Jones, which 12News obtained late Wednesday night:
Would you please address this statement you released to press today. Be more specific as to which contractor you are referring to because it certainly appears as though you are referring to Walkers Electric.
"For some in the Beaumont Community to suggest that the Black community condones or does not care about unlawful or criminal actions of BISD employees/contractors because of their race is outrageous".
As I can recall, Walkers Electric was the only contractor of BISD, FALSELY ACCUSED OF 37 BOGUS COUNTS OF FRAUD.
Please be advised that if your statement is pointing at Walkers Electric, you and no one else will never be able to produce any true evidence of "UNLAWFUL OR CRIMINAL ACTIONS PERFORMED BY US".
I believe we have been LIED on enough without being attacked by an organization in which I, and my entire family is a life time member of.
Also, I would love to review the document or documents, that has my signature on it stating I admitted to DECEIT, FALSIFICATION, MISLEADING OR FRAUDULENT activities against the District or anyone else.
Furthermore; Show me the documents that has ANY of those words on it.
That Stupid Guy, you know, Mike Getz insist that he has something with my signature on it stating I admitted fraud.
I challenge him to show us what he is referring to because I still today haven't seen it. Please, stop talking about it and show us all!!!
The word "Altered" is not fraud so stop twisting it!
If this document he's referring to surrounding this case is produced with my "original signature", not some photo copy they rigged up, I will personally pay the debt.
Now we wait!!!
Lastly, from the 37 federal, criminal counts. The SEALED document I pled to was NOT PAYING A TAX ON "ONE" check in a "TIMELY" manner.
Also, please note that the two million dollars was never a "REALITY" or something that was agreed upon by either party.
Pastor Adolph believes now is the time to work together, both black and white, but the ministers don't want to rehash the past.
Pastor Oveal Walker said, "We can't unscramble eggs, but we can move forward as a community."
The NAACP issued the following news release:
For some in the Beaumont community to suggest that the black community condones or does not care about unlawful or criminal actions of BISD employees and contractors because of their race is outrageous. It is an insult to black people all over the world because it is a lie. We believe in our judicial system which makes it very clear that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore no one should be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.
The second area that the NAACP takes issue with is the insinuation (clearly stated by some) that Blacks do not care about the quality of education that our children receive. I am in our community every day. I challenge anyone to find parents who do not want the highest quality of education for their children and will do everything in their power to make sure your kids are well educated and prepared for the future.
The third area that I want to address is the unfair scrutiny and demonizing of BISD. While I will agree that there are areas that are unacceptable and must be addressed, corrected, and improved, upon, there is a better way to handle these issues than what has occurred in the past.
We have spent three years fighting over single member district system versus a combination At-Large single-member in system for electing our board members. Everyone that knows a little history about voting equality in our community knows that there is no fairer voting system than the Single-Member district system. In a single-member district the elected official has to live among the people he represents, and only the represented people can vote him/her in or out. Our Constitution guarantees equal representation, protection, access, and equal rights under law. The most fundamental constitutional principle is equality under the law regardless of race, gender and even voter registration. The 1985 single-member plan implemented by the federal court was a promise to all citizens of Beaumont that elections would be conducted fairly and orderly with a chance for everyone to be represented. At-large elections are inherently discriminatory and disenfranchising to ethnic and language minority voters. They are remnants of a broken past. They dilute and provide less representation to minority voters, and they are retrogressive compared to single-member district systems. I am very aware of the decision the Supreme Court made when which took away the coverage that only applied to a few states; however, they did not change the law, and therefore did not change what the At- large voting process is all about. We believe this 5-2 plan does not meet the requirements set out in the Voting Rights Act.
Now the big question that has not been answered and no one seems to want to ask is, "WHY"? Why have we spent time and money trying to take us back in time? Just imagine if we had spent all this effort on improving the district. Maybe we would not be in this predicament regarding the pending accreditation issue.
My closing statement is this: Our most valuable resources are our children and our teachers. There should be a collaborative effort of the community to help them be there best and they can be. Be assured, if we do not, in the end, we all will pay and pay dearly.