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Beaumont city council shows no interest in getting involved in BISD controversies

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BEAUMONT -

12News has learned that the Beaumont Chapter of the NAACP will hold a rally Thursday in support of embattled Beaumont Independent School District communications director Jessie Haynes.

That's one week to the day after an incident that led Superintendent Timothy Chargois to put Haynes on paid administrative leave.

She was accused of keeping reporter Jerry Jordan out of a news conference.

Jordan says board member Mike Neil tried to let him inside, but in a statement released by Haynes to 12News, she accuses Neil and Jordan of attacking her.

She says, "He proceeded to snatch my arm, grab me, strike me, manhandled me, tried to force me to the floor and throw me from in front of the door while hitting me in the back with the door.  When he finished pulling and slinging me on one side, Jerry Jordan grabbed my other arm and tried to pull and sling me down toward the floor."

Both Haynes and Neil have filed charges against each other with the BISD police department, and Haynes says she plans to file charges with the Beaumont Police Department.  At news time, she had yet to do that.

Monday night, we reported that  Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick was concerned that controversies at BISD were driving away business opportunities for the county.

He told us one business had already decided not to locate here because of BISD issues.

On Tuesday, a group of citizens went to Beaumont City Hall to see if the mayor and council members felt the same, and to seek their help in finding a solution.

Sherry Goth addressed them first.  She told them, "I'm here frankly to address what I consider to be the proverbial elephant in the room, the seeming lack of your involvement into what I think is the largest problem in the city."

And Stephen Watson told them, "Posterity will look back at all of us in this hour and then they'll either admire our courage and integrity and thank us, or they are going to shake their head and say, 'if our leaders had only stepped up."

However, Vernon Durden told council members not to get involved.  He said, "I don't see the school board trying to get in your business."

Councilman Audwin Samuel agreed.  He stated, "I make a conscious decision to stay in my lane, and deal with council business and not deal with BISD business."

Mayor Becky Ames basically said this was an issue that needed to be solved by citizens.  She said, "Our citizens are very split on this issue, I believe I'm elected by the citizens to be the leader of the city, and there's a correlation between the entities, but BISD trustees were elected by the citizens just like we are and it is up to the citizens to make a change."

BISD board trustee Gwen Ambres attended the city council meeting.  She said emotions should not rule the actions of elected officials.

She told us, "We're there to conduct the business of the school district, I think we should be allowed to do that.  I think citizens should have their comment, because really that's not a mandatory thing, there are some districts that don't allow public comment, but we welcome them."

The NAACP rally for Haynes will be Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 5 p.m. outside the BISD administration building.

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