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LIVE: Board members share thoughts on BISD takeover
BEAUMONT-By: Leslie Rangel
The Beaumont school board is meeting at this hour and the trustees are now officially lame ducks.
As KFDM News first reported this morning, the Texas Education Agency is taking over the district replacing the superintendent and all seven trustees.
The Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, made the decision. This morning, he informed the superintendent and the board president.
More than a week ago, Williams traveled to Beaumont and met with Dr. Timothy Chargois and board members to get their input.
He also spoke with community leaders, the high school student body presidents and he hosted a teleconference.
In the end, Williams agreed with his staff, there is a severe breakdown in management of the district's finances and a loss of public trust.
As result, by June 15, he will appoint a board of managers to replace the school board and an interim superintendent to replace Dr. Timothy Chargois.
They'll serve no more than two years. There must be a board election within that period of time.
The agency will also lower the district's rating to accredited-probation.
Williams says it should not impact students or their ability to get into college.
He has elevated the special education monitor to conservator.
TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson says Fred Shafer will have the final say on all matters and can overrule Dr.Chargois and the board if he believes their actions are not in the best interest of the district or violate agency guidelines.
This letter details how the Texas Education Agency plans to come in and take over BISD.
In the letter TEA commissioner Michael Williams says by June 15, he'll replace this board with a new board of managers.
And by that same date, Williams will replace Dr. Chargois with an interim superintendent.
The TEA commissioner also named Fred Shafer, the conservator.
The agency elevated him from his role as special education monitor.
Effective immediately, Shafer will work with the district to make sure the superintendent and board are making decisions in the best interests of the community and following state guidelines.
Shafer has the power to overrule any decision he doesn't believe meets those standards.
Some BISD board members say the takeover was long overdue.
"I think that's something to really be proud about but I think the thing that happened and continued to happen for years is a big embarrassment for Beaumont," Mike Neil says.
One board member described it as failure.
"When you go back and you look at what has the way we have conducted business, the way we have constantly been in the news over very controversial issues the way we have handled our finances, the resources that we have that have been squandered and people have taken advantage of and we have sat there and watched it and done absolutely nothing to stop it, yes we have failed," Tom Nield said.
Other trustees expressed a different point of view, trustee Woodrow Reece said, "I recommended a conservator, but not the death penalty. We didn't do anything as bad as El Paso or other districts that were taken over. I know there are powerful people in Beaumont who wanted a takeover. And he (commissioner Williams) is a Republican, bless his soul. The kids will be okay. But at the end of the day, you bring some folks in here, you'll further divide the community. This community is still split. When the TEA leaves, the community will be split again."
Another board member, Janice Brassard, also expressed unhappiness with the TEA commissioner.
She says, " it was inevitable and I wish commissioner Williams would not have gone through the motions of pretending he hadn't made a decision already, wasted a lot of people's time. He should've just done it before, why go through the motions?"
The education agency says the process was important to help the commissioner reach a decision that will affect Beaumont School District families, students and the community for years to come.
The Superintendent did finally address the public about the takeover saying business will go on as normal.
He also urged to keep in mind what they do is for the children and to always hold onto that energy.
The commissioner has yet to say who will be a part of the board of managers and when it will come in, but again, it must be set by June 15th.