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Texas Education Commissioner says he won't rush into decision on state takeover of BISD

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BEAUMONT -

The Texas Education Commissioner says he has no decision yet on the fate of the Beaumont Independent School District, even though investigators with the Texas Education Agency have recommended a state takeover.

But before he pulls the trigger, Commissioner Michael Williams wants to hear more from the community.

Commissioner Williams has to decide if he'll replace BISD's board of trustees with a board of managers, which in essence would constitute a state takeover of the district.

So before he makes that serious move, he came to town to meet with the superintendent and with board members.

Williams told reporters he was enormously disappointed in what he read in TEA's final report on Beaumont ISD's financial accountability.

But after meetings with BISD superintendent, Timothy Chargois, Ed.D, and the board of trustees, Commissioner Williams told reporters he had not reached a decision on whether he would call for a state takeover of the district.

He says board members have taken some corrective actions, but he's not sure it's enough.

Williams said, "One question: is it too late, too late, is it significant enough to correct what many perceive to be a lack of confidence and trust."

Board President Gwen Ambres hopes it is, although she and the board, along with the superintendent have faced numerous calls from civic and business groups to resign.

Ambres responded by saying, "It's easy to pile on something, it's very hard to stand.  If the superintendent or board of trustees have done nothing wrong, then why would we resign."

But elected officials are not who Commissioner Williams is basing his final decision on.  He said, "I'd like to hear from moms and dads, grandmaws and grandpaws, folks who normally many not have an opportunity to weigh in on issues of this size."

Commissioner Williams says he wants to hold a teleconference town hall meeting to get that feedback from the community, but no date for that has been set, nor has he set a timetable for his final decision, which he says he doesn't want to rush into.

If Commissioner Williams accepts the recommendations of TEA investigators he would replace BISD trustees with a board of managers.

Williams says those managers would most likely have deep roots in Beaumont, and include educators and leaders of large entities.

There's been speculation that retired Lamar University President Jimmy Simmons would be considered for the board of managers or superintendent.

We contacted Simmons, and he told us he has not been approached about it.  We asked if he would consider an offer, he said it would be something he would have to give a lot of thought to.

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