Failure to lead

Like many Beaumont residents, we at The Examiner hailed the appointment of Dr. Timothy Chargois — and the unanimous BISD board vote that approved it – as a hopeful sign that perhaps a new day was on the horizon for the troubled district. That new day lasted less than two weeks before a lawsuit was filed against BISD by two of its own trustees after another piece of questionable lawyering by the district’s outside counsel, Tanner Hunt, resulted in an automatic pay raise clause opposed by almost all of the board somehow appearing in the Chargois contract – almost a carbon copy of a clause in the contract of outgoing Superintendent Carrol “Butch” Thomas many have come to regret since it has resulted in the annual inflation of his paycheck no matter how the district performed.

To his discredit, Chargois failed to step forward and instruct his attorney to redraw the contract without the offending clause even though his deal as incoming super doubled his previous salary. By then, Woodrow Reece and the pro-Thomas zealots who dominate the BISD board decided it would be OK for Chargois to keep the automatic pay raise they said they didn’t want.

A major factor in Chargois’ failure to lead appears to be the long goodbye of Thomas, who is starting to remind us of that old song “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.” Butch is still there despite the board lavishing an additional six-figure incentive for him to leave early. Chargois has displayed a certain timidity in carving his own identity while the man who selected him remains at the head of the table. One recent example was the Chargois appearance before the Press Club of Southeast Texas where he delivered a wooden recitation of the same tired PowerPoint presentation Thomas has been pushing for years that relentlessly crows about BISD’s education of African-American students while all but ignoring the Hispanics, whites and Asians who make up a sizeable percentage of the district’s students.

That matters little if at all to Reece and the race-baiters who snickered the weekend the old South Park High School was demolished in a surprise attack despite a judge’s ruling. We have long resisted embracing the idea that the majority of the BISD board is motivated by the desire to seek reparations because of their belief that when whites controlled local schools, they surely must have used the public purse as their own private piggy bank. Was there self-dealing back then? Probably, but for decades the cause of public education here was championed by dedicated civil servants like Dr. Thomas Pietzsch.

But the sentiment of this board is to redress old grievances that might not have even existed. How else can the board’s decision to renew the contract of fraudulent, invoice rigging, tax dodging electrical contractor Calvin Walker be explained other than he happens to be the favorite color of those in charge?When there is a system predicated on race, why are we surprised when there is a racial result? That’s got to change.