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KFDM learns judge has denied Temporary Injunction to BISD
AUSTIN/BEAUMONT - Scott Lawrence and Justin Hinton
KFDM News has learned an Austin judge denied a Temporary Injunction sought by the Beaumont ISD to block the Texas Education Agency's planned takeover of the district.
Watch KFDM News and stay with kfdm.com for updates and reaction.
Chris Tritico, the lead attorney representing BISD in the case, told KFDM's Justin Hinton lawyers will consult with the district and determine whether to appeal.
"I have great respect for Judge Yelenosky and his work as a jurist," Tritico said in a statement he released to KFDM News. "With that said, I respectfully disagree with today's ruling. In back to back cases TEA has taken opposite positions on the same law. The ruling confirms TEA's belief that it can change positions within the law to support whatever end it desires. That cannot be the law. We are very disappointed. We will be in consultation with our clients and make a decision about our next move."
Gene Acuna, a spokesman for the Texas Education Agency, released a statement to KFDM News on behalf of Education Commissioner Michael Williams.
"After yet another fair and impartial review of the facts, I am pleased that my decision to appoint a board of managers has been upheld in district court," said Williams. "Today's ruling is truly a victory for the people of Beaumont who seek to restore trust and confidence in their local school district. I am committed to selecting trusted and diverse members of the community to serve on the Beaumont board of managers. However, the timing for such a transition remains in the hands of the current board of trustees. They must ultimately decide whether to abide by the legal decisions that have already been reached or to continue to utilize taxpayer dollars in a losing fight."
Board member Mike Neil spoke with KFDM News about the decision.
"It was a huge decision," Neil said. "I'm glad he made it. I think it was the right one. I hope the board decides to stop wasting the taxpayers' money and allow a board of managers and a new superintendent to come in and put the District back together."
Judge Stephen Yelenosky of the 345th Civil District Court in Travis County released his decision at about noon Friday.
That means the state takeover can proceed unless BISD appeals and gets a restraining order to block the takeover pending the outcome of the appeal, or pending the outcome of a trial on a Permanent Injunction.
However, it wouldn't happen immediately. BISD can still request a Record Review from the TEA, in order to argue against the agency's decision to replace trustees with a board of managers and to replace the superintendent, Dr. Timothy Chargois, according to information provided to KFDM News by Gene Acuna, a spokesman for the TEA.
Following a previous Record Review, the agency denied the district's arguments against lowering the accceditation and elevating the monitor, Fred Shafer, to conservator.
Attorneys for the Texas Education Agency argued their cases Tuesday in Austin before Judge Yelenosky.. The district argued against the takeover, saying Commissioner of Education Michael Williams isn't following the law and that the Texas Education Agency should give BISD more time to make improvements. Attorneys for the TEA argued the district has mismanaged its finances for years and say the state has more than enough reason to replace the school board with a board of managers and replace the superintendent, Dr. Timothy Chargois. Williams had intended to do so by June 15.
A school board meeting is scheduled for Monday during which the board plans to vote on a Reduction in Force that would cut more than 200 positions, including those of many teachers, to save about $25 million and help balance the budget.
Jefferson County District Attorney Cory Crenshaw issued a statement about the ruling:
"As our criminal investigation moves forward, cooperation and candor continue to be paramount and a change in leadership is absolutely necessary to facilitate that. With that said, we applaud the effort of Commissioner Michael Williams and his agency and believe that the court in Austin made the best decision based upon the facts and law. We look forward to continuing our mission and seeing to it that those who have harmed our children's future are swiftly brought to justice."
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