A spokesperson with the Texas Education Agency Tuesday confirmed to 12news that T.E.A. investigators are recommending to Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams that a board of managers take over the Beaumont Independent School District.
The TEA Division of Financial Compliance, Investigative Section Tuesday released its final investigative report and conclusions resulting from its investigation into the district. The report says over the past five years, BISD has suffered a severe loss of public trust and has acquired a reputation in the community that is tainted by multiple incidents of fraud, waste and abuse.
The final investigative report includes the district's management responses to the TEA preliminary investigative report findings, as well as the TEA's analysis of the district's response to each finding.
The recommendation of a TEA takeover would require approval by Commissioner Williams.
Commissioner Williams is scheduled to hold a series of meetings in Beaumont Thursday. The times and number of meetings are still being planned. A TEA spokesperson said not to expect any major announcements following the meetings. No details of the planned meetings have been released.
Gwen Ambres, the president of the BISD board of trustees, told 12News she hopes the district gets another chance, and plans to meet with Williams Thursday.
She told us, "We're trying to right the ship, and we understand we are not perfect." Ambres went on to say BISD officials are capable people, and have already started to put things in place to improve the district.
However state investigators wrote in their report, "BISD executive management could not provide the TEA evidence to substantiate their assurances that drastic improvement is underway."
Ambres also told us BISD officials are trying to keep the environment in the district calm, and don't want anything distracting students and teachers from STAAR testing, which is taking place this week.
If a takeover is approved, a board of managers would replace the elected school board members. The power of the elected board would be suspended for no more than two years. The board of managers would be made up of people from the community including business people and community leaders. The commissioner would also appoint a superintendent.
The TEA will meet with school board members to discuss its recommendation.
BISD superintendent Timothy Chargois, Ed.D had no comment, but district spokesperson Nakisha Myles issued a statement from the district late Tuesday.
"The District has received the Final Investigative Report from the Texas Education Agency. We are thoroughly reviewing the report and its recommendations. Among the Agency's recommendations to the Commissioner are a board of managers and the lowering of BISD's accreditation status. The District has and will continue to work with the TEA toward the necessary improvements."
Texas State Representative Joe Deshotel told 12News that the commissioner told him that he plans to meet with BISD's board of trustees and the superintendent so that they can tell him why this recommendation should not followed through.
12News spoke with former BISD Superintendent Carrol Thomas, Ed.D. shortly after the TEA announcement.
"I find it to be very disturbing and unfortunate that this has happened," said Dr. Thomas.
News of the TEA's recommendation comes less than a month after the release of a scathing TEA preliminary investigative report. It accuses the district of hindering an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing.
The Jefferson County District Attorney has been investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the district. District Attorney Cory Crenshaw issued the following statement in reaction to the news from the TEA
"We would like to take this opportunity to let the community know that now is the time for those who have knowledge of wrong-doing at the school district and wrongdoers themselves, to come forward. We are asking that all individuals with knowledge of criminal activity at BISD to meet with us, tell the truth, and agree to cooperate. Starting today and through the end of this month, my office and task force investigators will be available to meet with people who are willing to speak to us and consideration will be given to those that come forward during this time period. Change within the school district is imminent and this opportunity will hopefully allow for swift justice," stated Crenshaw.
Timeline of events
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