BISD's board of managers votes on firing superintendent, Timothy - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

BISD's board of managers votes on firing superintendent, Timothy Chargois, but postpones decision on other layoffs

BEAUMONT - The seven members of the Beaumont Independent School District's board of managers were sworn into their new positions at Monday night's board meeting, taking over for trustees whose authority has been suspended by the state.

While the managers were warmly received by the public, they know they have a tough road ahead.

One of their first actions was firing superintendent Timothy Chargois, Ed.D.  They unanimously voted to approve his proposed termination.

But managers postponed making a decision on the layoffs of other contract employees, like teachers. They wanted more time to make sure they made the right decision. According to Conservator Fred Shafer, the reduction in force list has been reduced.

When originally proposed by Chargois, there were 224 positions on the job cuts list, now it's down to 84, with 55 being teachers.  And there are 91 vacancies.
Shafer says qualified teachers still have the opportunity to apply for those vacancies.

Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams ushered in BISD's new beginning.

Williams received a rock star's welcome when he entered the boardroom. Many in the audience even wore his trademark bow ties.

Williams said, "I like the bow tie idea, I'm trying to take over the world, one neck at a time."

He later would send out tweet thanking the community.  He tweeted, "Thank you students, parents, teachers and community leaders. The bow ties were a great touch."

Williams told the audience he did not consider the installation of the board of managers as a state takeover.  He said it was more like a handoff, of a passing of the baton in a relay, with control of BISD remaining in local hands.

Williams said, "When I leave here and get on the plane, I'm leaving Beaumont to Beaumont, and I am confident that Beaumont can heal itself."

Commissioner Williams is also confident in the seven members of the board of managers he's appointed, along with new interim superintendent Vern Butler.  However the president of the board of managers, retired Lamar University President Jimmy Simmons cautions that solving BISD's financial problems won't be easy.

He said, "It's a wonderful honeymoon, but we know we're going to make some tough decisions, we just know we can continue to unite this community and not look back but look forward."

Despite the great reception the managers received, there was a lone voice of opposition.

David Pete said, "They are not elected, they are appointed.  It is a farce, it's a shame, it's an insult to everyone to give the attention that's been given tonight to these individuals."

Donna Forgas, who has been one of the citizens leading the charge to reform BISD, told her fellow citizens to remain involved.

She said, "Many people have asked me how did this happen, I simply tell them it happened while you were asleep, hopefully this community will never sleep again."

Chargois will have 15 days to appeal his proposed termination.  As for any monetary settlement he might receive, that has yet to be decided.

There are still two pending investigations into BISD, dealing with cheating allegations and attendance irregularities.

Commissioner Williams says he's not decided if his agency will complete the attendance investigation or leave it to the board of managers.

As for the cheating investigation, Williams says the Jefferson County District Attorney is handling that matter.

The only trustees who were at Monday's meeting were Mike Neil and Tom Neild.  Both had supported the takeover.

The president of the Board of Trustees Gwen Ambres was not at the meeting, but earlier this month in an interview with 12News, she told us Commissioner Williams had asked her if she would consider being on the board of managers, and she said she told him yes.

But Monday we asked Williams if he had asked Ambres, his response, "Let's just says that the president (Ambres) and I have a different recollection of those facts."

He also told the community that there will come a time that there will be another school board election, and that voters must consider finding good, solid people with the background and and experience to run a large company.

Williams said, "School districts are, for the most part, the largest employers in most communities, they're the economic drivers of most communities.  The community should begin having a conversation among themselves now as to what's the type of skill set, who are the type of people that we want to serve us on a school board."

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