UPDATE 3: Hearing underway for BISD TRO
UPDATE 3: Court ended at approximately 5 p.m., with lawyers on both sides of the issue finishing up witness testimony. Among those to take the stand along with BISD superintendent Timothy Chargois was a BISD paid consultant, a TEA finance investigator, and TEA-appointed BISD conservator Fred Shafer. When questioned about his opinion of the local school district, Shafer said he believed employee morale to be low, attributing the lackluster love of the job to be "because (of) a lack of leadership in the district."
Shafer added that BISD's progress in correcting serious deficiencies found in the school district's special education program was "minimum" at best, but said that he could only do so much to change that.
"I am not there to correct," he said. "I am there to monitor the correcting."
Judge Yelenosky said he hoped to have a decision in the matter by the end of this week.
UPDATE 2: Court resumed at 2:48 p.m., with BISD attorneys calling on BISD superintendent Timothy Chargois.
UPDATE: Judge Stephen Yelenosky of the Travis County District Court has heard from attorneys on both sides of the debate as to whether the court should further prevent TEA commissioner Williams from appointing a Board of Managers to "usurp" the current BISD Board of Trustees. The court took a brief lunch between 12:15 and 1:30 p.m., with attorney arguments continuing until 2 p.m. Judge Yelenosky stated that he had another court case scheduled for 2 p.m.
BISD attorneys argue that the TEA did not follow due process when appointing a Board of Managers in that they believe BISD should have been allowed to appeal the school district's accreditation downgrade prior to the commissioner taking any further action.
Attorneys for the TEA argue that the commissioner is within his power to do whatever is necessary to prevent further waste and abuse in local school districts.
In a last-ditch attempt to thwart a Texas Education Agency takeover, Beaumont Independent School District superintendent Timothy Chargois and Board of Trustees members Gwen Ambres and Janice Brassard are in a Travis County court asking the judge to extend or make permanent a restraining order barring the state agency from intervening at the school district after state investigators identified multiple egregious “failures” on the part of the BISD administrators.
In the preamble to the court when requesting the provisions, the plaintiffs assert that both Ambres and Brassard are elected to the positions they hold – but Brassard’s elected service ran out last year. Some members of the BISD Board of Trustees, such as Tom Neild, question why only Ambres and Brassard were named in the litigation, as the entirety of the Board of Trustees secured Tritico’s services when it was decided in a 5-2 vote to ire the Houston-based attorney with a $50,000 retainer fee.
According to TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson, “Beaumont ISD’s request for a temporary restraining order was heard in 261st State District Court (on Wednesday, May 14). Judge Lora Livingston heard arguments.” Culbertson said that part of plaintiff’s arguments were disposed of right away, but BISD was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams from instituting a Board of Directors to take over duties of running the school district from the current Board of Trustees and superintendent Chargois as planned.
Ambres and Brassard claimed through their BISD-billed attorney that TEA Commissioner Michael Williams “violated the Texas Education Code in an attempt to achieve an improper purpose” when determining that BISD’s accreditation status warranted “Accredited- Probation” and installation of a Board of Managers to take over the duties of the ruling Board of Trustees; and the lawsuit was necessary “to stop imminent and irreparable harm occurring as the result of the Commissioner’s actions.”
It was further alleged in the court filing that “The Commissioner has deprived BISD of the statutory procedural due process,” and erred in reassigning BISD’s accreditation. TEA’s Culbertson reported that, “In regard to the record review on lowering the district’s accreditation…Judge Livingston denied the Beaumont ISD’s TRO request.
The TRO extension hearing commenced shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 16, with Tritico's co-counsel arguing first for BISD, saying that the TEA commissioner overstepped his authority in ruling for state intervention. Opposing arguments contend that state intervention is long overdue.
Updates will be provided at www.theexaminer.com as they become available. Attached is the initial pleading for relief sought by BISD.