Chaos Erupts Concerning DeSoto Superintendent Issue

lady holding a sign protesting Don Hooper
Protesters started gathering a little before 6 pm Thursday evening Photo by Rita Cook

More Questions Than Answers At DeSoto ISD, One Week Before School Starts

DESOTO – The crowd began gathering a little before 6 p.m. in front of the DeSoto ISD Administration Building on Belt Line Road.

The reasons were in part due to the abrupt resignation of the ISD Superintendent Dr. D’Andre Weaver, who has been with the district since September 2018. He had reportedly resigned during an emergency meeting this past Sunday.

Turns out that meeting was possibly not a legal meeting at all.

The second reason for the protest was also another slap in the district’s face. The newly appointed acting superintendent, Dr. Don Hooper, is being called to task because of past comments made on his personal social media.

Comments that DeSoto resident, past school board trustee and current DeSoto official Kenzie Moore said were racist and not acceptable. He said he was speaking as a concerned citizen and not in any official capacity.

At Thursday night’s protest Moore said, “I am appalled and embarrassed at the leadership of this board and what they have done to Dr. Weaver in particular.”

Many believe Dr. Weaver came in and tried to turn the district around. Moore said he believed the board was doing too much micromanaging due to the last superintendent, which was when all the trouble in the district really began.

“I believe they are overstepping their boundaries, not governing, but trying to be micro-managers,” Moore explained.

TEA Appoints a Conservator

Moore said that was also what the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said in their report – that their main issue was with the board.

In the next step, the TEA has now come in and taken over.

TEA sent a certified letter to the DeSoto board of trustees informing the district that A.J. Crabill, a former TEA deputy commissioner of education for governance, will be taking on the role of conservator for DeSoto ISD.

What is not clear is who will the conservator be working with in the school district?

The reason that is still unclear is that while the school board did accept Weaver’s resignation after 90 minutes in executive session this past week in the special called board meeting, if the meeting was improperly called then nothing that happened in it really happened.

At the emergency meeting, the board voted 4-3 to accept Dr. Weaver’s resignation. That was when the board also voted 4-3 to appoint Dr. Hooper as acting superintendent.

“That meeting on Sunday was an illegal meeting,” Moore explained. “It was not posted correctly. If you go back and look you will see it was not posted correctly and then it was canceled, then it was reposted. And that is against TEA guidelines. So, everything that happened Sunday did not really happen – not according to TEA. I think that is going to come up. So therefore, Dr. Weaver did not really resign.”

To make matters even more complicated, Dr. Weaver has now said he did not sign a board-approved voluntary resignation agreement and as far as he is concerned, he is still working for DeSoto ISD.

Who is The Current Superintendent?

Those at the protest Thursday agreed and said Dr. Weaver was still in his role as superintendent.

And that comes back to the fact the acting superintendent Dr. Hooper is not actually the acting superintendent. The remarks from his social media are still in question either way.

While Kenzie Moore said everyone does have a right to an opinion, he added “but not when you are talking about leading a district that is a majority minority. Those are very defamatory comments that he made and posted regarding people of color. So, what it does is show the interior character of the man. No matter the apology, it is unfortunate this board leadership accepted that apology. That is why there are the three board members who voted against the termination and called another special meeting, which will be this Sunday.”

DeSoto Mayor Curtistene McCowan, who stressed she was making a personal statement and not speaking on behalf of the City of DeSoto said, “I am extremely disappointed at what I have seen and heard, and I think the only honorable thing for Dr. Hooper to do is to resign his position at DeSoto ISD. This community wants and deserves an ethical leader who is an exemplary role model for students and staff and who demonstrates the ability to bring us all together and not set us apart.”

DeSoto ISD Board Will Meet Sunday To Answer, Who’s Leading The District

As for Dr. Hooper, he has said regarding his social media posts, which have since been taken down “The content in question does not reflect my leadership, character nor career. I love all people regardless of the color of their skin. I see people for their souls. I’ve made my mistakes and had errors in judgment from time to time. I am human and not without fault. I ask forgiveness for those I have offended by my decision to share the content and have removed those posts as they do not reflect my beliefs about people. In this season, I do not desire to be another factor in the negativity that has surrounded DeSoto ISD. Instead, I want to emphasize the lesson learned in this moment and move forward having grown as a person and leader.”

The next DeSoto ISD board meeting will be held on Sunday at 6 p.m. The meeting had originally been scheduled for Saturday evening, but was cancelled in favor of the Sunday meeting.

Sept 6 Board Agenda

The posting for the Saturday meeting said it was to “Consider and deliberate the Employment of an Interim Superintendent; Consider and deliberate the hiring of administrative positions; discuss and take possible action regarding the employment of an Interim Superintendent.”

Moving Forward Before Students Return To Learn

The Sunday posting broadened the scope considerably. The first item will be to consider rescission of acceptance of Superintendent’s resignation and voluntary separation agreement; consider rescission of appointment of Dr. Don Hooper as Acting Superintendent and the adjourn into executive session to discuss and possibly take action on the contract of the Superintendent; discuss and take action on the appointment of an acting superintendent and finally to discuss board relations and moving the district forward.

Citizens are also planning a rally on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in support of Dr. Weaver. The rally is expected to line the streets from the corner of Belt Line Road and Hampton Road.

“We have to do something because we are tired of being tired,” concluded Mr. Moore. “We are tired of being embarrassed. Like I said, I am here as a citizen who served on this school board, so I understand what they are going through.”