Members undecided on Special Accreditation Committee
Fifteen community members have been selected to serve on the newly formed Beaumont Independent School District Special Accreditation Committee, although not all of those named have yet decided whether to participate in any endeavor solicited in the name of the current school district leadership. Some named members, such as BISD parent Mark Haynes, still have reservations about serving on any BISD committee instituted while the school district is facing state intervention for failing to fiscally manage the district’s resources. Haynes said his decision to serve in the capacity requested of him is contingent on several factors he has yet to receive clear confirmation will occur, the first being the removal of the current Board of Trustees.
Additionally, “We need to make sure these committee meetings are public, (the first meeting April 8 was not public),” Haynes said, “and we need to make sure that we can get all the information we need, not just depend on what the district wants to give us.”
‘Never too late …’
Superintendent Timothy Chargois said the idea is for the BISD Special Accreditation Committee “to act as an umbrella that encompasses five different areas.” The committee is comprised of five different sub-committee groups: finance, student achievement, governance, civic capacity, and student support services. Each committee is comprised of BISD trustees/administrators and selected community members, and will eventually encapsulate a team of 15 more individual members in each committee to be named at a later date. Community members already named as selected to serve on the Special Accreditation Committee are former Beaumont Chamber of Commerce president Nathan Cross, Compro-Tax owner Yusuf Muhammad, Chargois mentor Alma Harris Brown, Jason Mixon from Lamar University, the Rev. R. Carrington, NAACP Beaumont Chapter president Paul Jones, Jesus Abrego from the Diocese of Beaumont, BISD parent Mark Haynes, Alice Ramsey of the Beaumont YWCA, Chuck Culbrenner, the Rev. Dr. James Fuller, engineer Tim Sudella, Beaumont Boys and Girls Club executive director Michael Perez, Dr. K. Young, and the Rev. Oveal Walker.
“We know the hour is late,” Chargois said about forming the new community committee. “But,” he added, “they agreed – despite that – to reach out and help this community.”
Chargois stated that the committee will meet once a month and report to the community.
“Relationships have to be developed,” Chargois said. “Our board, our superintendent, have made mistakes.”
Electing to take part in the new committee was a tough decision for Nathan Cross. According to Cross, he did not want to assist the current BISD administration in any effort to retain control of the district, feeling that new leadership is what is best moving forward at this point. However, Cross added, his main allegiance is to the populous served by BISD and wants to assist in any way possible to repair the tattered and torn framework of the school district the current regime has wreaked havoc upon.
“I wanted to talk to (TEA Commissioner Michael Williams) before I made my decision,” Cross told The Examiner. “I was assured by him that this committee being formed does not have any effect on his decision one way or the other. That’s why I’m willing to serve.”
Cross said he would recuse himself from the committee if he ever felt like the mission was tainted.
“If I felt like we wouldn’t be effective, I wouldn’t participate,” he said. “The people in that (committee meeting) room spoke from the heart about how this community needs to heal. If we are making progress, I’m just asking for the community’s support. If we’re not making progress, then I won’t be a part of that.”
While he wants to affect change, Cross said he is not naïve enough to follow the current BISD administration blindly.
“BISD has problems, but it’s never too late to start doing what’s right,” he said. “I’ve long recognized there were problems in this district. We can never undo the wrong that’s been done, and this may be an exercise in futility. But this may be an opportunity missed too.
“I’ve been a part of Beaumont since the mid-’50s, had three kids go through BISD. This is important to me — that we are doing everything possible to get Beaumont to the point that we are respectful to one another, where we don’t lose businesses because no one wants to live here and send their kids to school here.”
Cross said he has received harsh criticism for choosing to serve on the Special Accreditation Committee but doesn’t fault community members for being skeptical about any undertaking commissioned at the behest of current BISD leaders.
“I understand there are diverse groups, with diverse agendas,” he said, “but we (as a committee) have an agenda, too - to make BISD as good as we can make it.
“I’m not here to be (just) a dissenter, I’m here to be a fixer. I understand the meaning of the word dissent and I do dissent in that I do not agree with what’s going on right now with BISD.
“It’s still going to require the work and effort of us who care to get BISD where it needs to be - no matter who’s on the dais. That’s why I’m here, why I’m doing this.”
Same song, new dance
Pending committee member Haynes said, “Nothing about this committee is confirmed yet as far as I’m concerned. There are still questions that need to be answered, such as the scope of our work, which is a pretty big deal.”
Other problems with the proposed committee also stem from the committee members being told they would need to file formal Public Information Requests to receive any district information not already on queue to be provided by advanced notice.
“Me, as a taxpayer, as a parent of BISD, I’ve had trouble getting information in the past,” Haynes told The Examiner, referencing several Public Information Requests made to BISD in recent months that have not been filled in a timely manner as required by the The Public Information Act. “I’ve had a really tough time getting information in that manner before. What’s different now? We still have to go through the same process, with the same people. I’m fearful this will run the same process as it did in the past, as well.”
Haynes said the Special Accreditation Committee could “be a useful tool” if used by the right taskmaster, but he could not be a part of any committee operated under the current BISD leadership.