Texas Education Agency deputy commissioner Lizzette Reynolds has confirmed a decision made by TEA commissioner Michael Williams to lower the Beaumont Independent School District's accreditation status to "Accredited - Probation." The decision was made by the TEA commissioner in the wake of an investigation by the agency that revealed "serious and persistent deficiencies in the areas of financial management, compliance with legal requirements, and special education."
Also part of the commissioner's recommendations to correct the problems found at BISD, the TEA will institute a Board of Managers to take over running the school district, dismissing the current BISD Board of Trustees and superintendent Timothy Chargois. The appointment of the Board of Managers is being appealed in a Travis County District Court, with proceedings to be held in that court on Tuesday, June 17.
Reynolds' decision on Monday, June 16, also confirms the appointment of a conservator, Fred Shafer, to oversee the district while in this period of transition and appeals processes. According to Reynolds, the decisions she made was due to the severity of the problems noted at the local school district.
"These deficiencies are so serious that if they are not corrected, the district could ultimately have its accreditation revoked," Reynolds determined. "Immediate intervention is needed to prevent further harm to the district and to correct (its) deficiencies."
Further, Reynolds stated, "The district's financial crisis is so serious that it threatens the quality of the (district's) academic services, and if not corrected could ultimately cause the district to fail in the (TEA's) academic accountability system. If not corrected, these failures can ultimately lead to the revocation of the district's accreditation status and immediate intervention is needed to address these concerns."
In Reynolds' opinion, the current crisis at BISD is due to the leaders of the school district. The lack of effective leadership at BISD was only compounded by the fact that the administration refused to notice the problems taking place on their watch - even when state agencies and law enforcement investigations could easily detect the troubles at the school district. Additionally, she said, "The Board and its administration's inability or unwillingness to timely address deficiencies identified for it by these outside entities creates no confidence that the Board and its administration can create the type of dramatic change that the district needs."
BISD administration's argument that they have tried to start corrective action amounts to only a "flurry of activity" occurring in the two-week period after the school district received the TEA's final investigative report on the district's finances, Reynolds noted, adding that the measures, "are too little and comes too late."
TEA commissioner Williams said he was happy with Reynolds' decision, and looks forward to moving on with getting BISD on the right track.
“Following a fair and impartial review of the facts, I am pleased that my decision to lower the accreditation status of the Beaumont Independent School District and to appoint a conservator in the district has been upheld," he said in a prepared release. "Unfortunately, my decision to appoint a board of managers and an interim superintendent continues to be delayed in court proceedings brought forth by the current board at the expense of Beaumont taxpayers. However, I remain confident that when the district’s legal maneuvers have all been exhausted, a board of managers will be put in place to begin the overdue job of restoring community faith and confidence in the Beaumont Independent School District.”
The full 25-page decision is attached for Examiner subscribers.