BEAUMONT - From BISD
Although the superintendent of schools for the Beaumont Independent School District has not been contacted by local or federal authorities about a special grand jury being formed to investigate the district, Dr. Timothy Chargois said he welcomes the inquest. "As we have done with every investigation into the operations of BISD, whether it was federal or at the state level, we have cooperated to help facilitate the work of the investigating teams. The energies usurped would have normally been focused toward academic preparation of our children and in carrying out the day to day responsibilities of operating the school district. Nonetheless, our district continues to be transparent and I welcome this grand jury investigation as I have welcomed others in the recent past," Dr. Chargois explained.
Reportedly, the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office requested Criminal Court District Judge John Stevens to impanel a special grand jury to look into operations at BISD. While the grand jury deliberates and decides if it has evidence of a crime or crimes having been committed, the school district is wrapping up a tough school year that included an investigation by the Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Education Agency and others. Additionally, BISD has supported the judicial system over the years as investigations initiated from within the district or from agencies outside of the district. "We have proven over and over that BISD does not have any "widespread" cheating on standardized state exams as once accused. We have worked with TEA on eliminating a number of deficiencies identified in various reports and we are continuing to repair any problem areas and correct issues of concern. Three of the BISD business department's top employees have been relieved of their duties. Looking back over the last few years, BISD has been aggressive in providing training for and/or removing any employee found to be out of compliance with district policies," Chargois explained.
During the coming days, most of the nearly 20,000 BISD students are in the midst of final exams for the 2013-2014 school year. More than 1,200 seniors from the district's three high schools are preparing for their June 7 graduation ceremonies. Employees-many of the 3,000 or so of them, are reviewing materials, calculating data and preparing end of the school year reports. At the same time, many of the employees are awaiting news about how their lives will be impacted by the school district's budget shortfall and the end of several grants that may include closing or reducing the level of service generally provided in some programs and laying off some 300 employees across the district. Chargois said the business of education in BISD is still happening. "While many of the investigations have tarnished the image of BISD with major headlines about the investigations and barely mentions of many of the findings that show the district's various best practices. The fact remains that 99% of our employees are doing their jobs and taking care of our children. Being the largest employer in the region, sure, there will be some people who are not up to par and who may have unethical purposes in mind as they work here. We have and will continue to put into place a number of checks and balances to further discourage those few," said Chargois.