There is a banner hanging on the outside wall of Austin Middle School proclaiming the Beaumont Independent School District a National Model School District according to the National League of Cities. Underneath the name of that respected organization in small type are the letters NBC-LEO, which stands for National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. As it happens, the immediate past president of that group is Audwin Samuel – a Beaumont city councilman and former BISD trustee. The banner visible to thousands of motorists each day on Interstate 10 replaced another banner that stated BISD was one of the top 10 school districts in the country. This “honor” came from an online magazine that sold advertising to district vendors from a list provided by BISD. At the time they purchased this dubious rating, 19 of 23 schools in the district were rated sub-standard by the state.
Rather than devote so much time and effort to securing such fictitious titles to be exploited by the BISD Ministry of Propaganda, they ought to take a look at what is going on inside the school buildings. Austin Middle School would be a good place to start.
For the second time in a year, a pre-teen girl has been subjected to sexual harassment and bullying. In the incident last year, two 12-year-old girls were sexually fondled while a movie was playing in Spanish class while the teacher reportedly slept. Two boys in that incident served brief suspensions then returned to school and threatened the girls. When the girls’ parents complained, school principal Dr. Aaron Covington tried to minimize the incident – even though the boys confessed.
In our cover story this week, Jennifer Johnson brings us the sordid tale of another 12-year-old girl who was repeatedly accosted by a fellow student – this time another girl. The same Principal Covington again sought to minimize the incident even in the face of clear evidence, including a letter sent to the girl by her pursuer, whose mother was a BISD employee who worked in the school. In the through-the-looking-glass world of BISD, not only did the district fail to discipline the daughter of the district employee, but they also refused to allow the girl who was victimized to transfer to another school.
This time, it just wasn’t Principal Covington. Assistant Superintendent for Research, Planning, and Education Dr. Dwaine Augustine was the district official who denied the request for a transfer. BISD spokesman Ron Reynolds danced all around the issue, citing the Family Rights and Privacy Act then reciting portions of the Student Handbook. What he didn’t do was provide any relevant guidelines that might explain BISD’s actions — or inaction, in cases such as this one.
There is an old saying that the fish stinks from the head. In this case, the stench emanates from Principal Covington and extends to the superintendent’s office and the BISD board that blindly backs even the most outrageous actions of its employees. Read the story and see for yourself – and take those lying banners down.