PAISD superintendent makes appearance

Port Arthur Independent School District superintendent Dr. Johnny Brown (right) talks with courtroom spectators Dec. 5.

Although missing in action from his superintendent duties at the Port Arthur Independent School District (PAISD) for more than a month now, Dr. Johnny Brown made an appearance in a Jefferson County court Dec. 5. 

He was subpoenaed by an attorney representing a former district employee who is alleging Brown conspired to fire the employee for unlawful reasons. In the case of Monty Jones vs. PAISD, the former computer technician said he was harassed and then fired for failing to follow orders in a scheme to damage computer equipment and collect insurance proceeds. Jones’ case made it to the courts in 2010, but like other claimants of PAISD wrongdoing such as Edna Edwards, the alleged harassment had taken place long before litigation went before a judge, with Jones’ employment ending in the summer of 2009.

Jones’ case specifically names PAISD Superintendent Johnny Brown and computer technology supervisor Beverly Thornton as the actors responsible for harassment and retaliation alleged in the suit.

In a notarized statement to the court, superintendent Brown defended his position, saying, “I approved the recommendation to terminate Monty Jones in 2009 based on legitimate business reasons related to his misconduct.”

Jones’ attorney, Larry Watts, requested to hear Brown’s statement in person, but was not able to do so prior to the December court date. Watts asserted PAISD attorneys “have aided in making Dr. Johnny Brown unavailable as a witness.”

Brown was made available in answer to the subpoena but had little to offer on the stand. The superintendent confirmed that he was the one who fired Jones based on allegations of insubordinate and disruptive behavior made by Thornton. Both Brown and Thornton were evasive on the stand, asking that questions be restated before offering various versions of “I don’t recall.” Brown will be back in the Jefferson County 60th District Court to again undergo questioning Dec. 13.

Brown also stated that he had no comment regarding to his recent prolonged hiatus from PAISD, where he has not been present since late October.

Jennifer Johnson can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 231, or by e-mail at jennifer [at] theexaminer [dot] com.