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TEA announces takeover of BISD - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

TEA announces takeover of BISD, New superintendent to be appointed

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BEAUMONT -

A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency has confirmed to 12News that the TEA will take over the Beaumont Independent School District.

A takeover means that a board of managers will run the district.

BISD's school board president and superintendent were notified of the decision to take over the district by a notice sent by TEA Commissioner Michael Williams Monday morning.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A COPY OF THE TEA LETTER

The letter informs the district that a conservator will be appointed to take over the district effective immediately.  It also says Commissioner Williams intends to appoint a new superintendent.  The board of managers and new superintendent will be in place by June 15 pending any requested final review. 

BISD Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois issued the following statement Monday afternoon.:

Michael Williams, Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, in a letter dated April 14, 2014 has expressed his decision to appoint a Board of Managers and superintendent to conduct the day to day operations of BISD.  The district is considering its options. Further details are forthcoming.

The current Board and Superintendent are still managing the day to day operations of the district.  The agenda review meeting will continue as scheduled.  According to the TEA, "The lowered status has no impact on the validity of high school diplomas issued by Beaumont ISD, nor does it impact graduates' ability to gain college admissions."

District 2 Trustee Zenobia Bush told The Beaumont Enterprise that Williams's decision didn't surprise her.

"I have expected from the beginning an unfavorable ruling based on the people involved," Bush said. "This is TEA Party (the anti-government group, not the Texas Education Agency) politics at work and it has never been about the students at BISD. It has always been about control of this board."

Bush said she thinks voters have been disenfranchised.

"Their vote means nothing in the eyes of the commissioner," she said. "And to them, I say, we will not give up," she told the Enterprise.

The Enterprise also spoke with District 3 trustee and former school board president Woodrow Reece.

"We have a lot of things in place. Dr. (Timothy) Chargois was starting to put things together. People in the last two years have been hell-bent on taking this board out. People are being disenfranchised. I think it'll rip this city up again," Reece told the Enterprise.

Commissioner Williams will formally announce the names of those serving on the board of managers, as well as an interim superintendent, at a future date.

"This is a critical time for the district and its students, as well as for the community as a whole," said Commissioner Williams in the letter

"The magnitude of the findings, the serious nature of the ongoing and systemic operating deficiencies facing the district, and the importance of preventing further harm to the welfare of the Beaumont ISD's students and to the public interest compel me to appoint a board of managers at this time," said Commissioner Williams.

The board of managers – which will be comprised of a majority of members from the Beaumont community – will be responsible for overseeing the management of the Beaumont Independent School District, including oversight of the district's efforts to address and correct identified deficiencies and to implement effective structural and procedural improvement strategies for long-term, positive change.

The TEA has also notified district officials that it will lower BISD's 2013-2014 accreditation status.  

The accreditation of the Beaumont Independent School District will be lowered to Accredited-Probation.

A TEA spokesperson said the lowered status has no impact on the validity of high school diplomas issued by Beaumont ISD, nor does it impact graduates' ability to gain college admissions.

Following staff recommendations, Commissioner Williams has spent the last several weeks speaking with Beaumont community and business leaders, parents, students and local stakeholders regarding issues within the district. The Commissioner utilized that community input before reaching his decision.

"For quite some time now, local district leadership has had various warnings and multiple opportunities to address the many troubling issues surrounding the Beaumont Independent School District," said Commissioner Williams.

"The people of Beaumont have waited patiently for action, but made it very clear to me that they are now ready to restore the damaged reputation of their local school district," said Williams.

Once in place, the appointed board of managers will assume all responsibilities of the elected board of trustees. The board of managers will be in place for up to two years. A school board election must be called within two years of this appointment.

The Commissioner's decision follows two recent Texas Education Agency investigations into various BISD special education, finance and governance issues. Based on findings in those reports, Agency staff recommended to the Commissioner the appointment of a board of managers and the lowering of the Beaumont ISD accreditation.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A COPY OF THE FINAL REPORT

As a result of findings in the special education investigation, BISD was assigned a monitor to oversee special education. Commissioner Williams is escalating that monitor role to that of a conservator. The conservator will oversee the operations of the district and ensure the district is taking appropriate measures until a board of managers is in place.

BISD may request a record review of the appointment of a board of managers and its lowered accreditation status, as well as request an informal review of the conservator assignment. A request for a record review and/or an informal review must be submitted in writing and received by the Texas Education Agency no later than April 24, 2014.

This is a developing story.  Check back for updates.

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