Transparency Demanded as Citizens Address DeSoto School Board
As one resident put it, “regardless of who you are, you need to ask why you are here.” The theme was undeniable as nearly 20 people addressed the DeSoto ISD School Board of Trustees Thursday evening in a meeting that spanned more than two and a half hours. Residents overwhelmingly expressed their belief that either the “Peter Principle” had overtaken the board or they were not up to the task of managing the district.
Some called for a wholesale replacement of the board, some called for the district to be merged or taken over by another district, and some called for much greater investigation and oversight by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
A Bold Group Of Bullies….
Most telling comments were from a former board member, Jerry Hall, and the former Chief Academic Officer, Celeste Barretto. Hall said he admitted that much of the time the board did not listen or manage as it should have. He said it took four board members to change things and they were always short one vote with only three board members voting to take action. Hall said the three actually sent a letter to the TEA (Texas Education Agency) but were not able to get anything done at the time.
Ms. Barretto said her comments would be made public after the meeting and went into great detail. Among other comments she said “Every TEA allegation is true” and “my belief is that you are a bold group of bullies,” referring to the board. According to a Facebook posting, she had been an integral part of Dr. D’Andre Weaver’s leadership team earlier this year, having been appointed to her position on January 9, 2019.
Dr. Don Hooper As Conservator
One person commented they were encouraged by first the hiring of Dr. Don Hooper as a consultant in February and then his appointment as conservator by the board during their July 27th meeting.
The duty of a conservator is to assist in the reorganization of staff and resources; reduction of budget and spending; and guidance of district preparations to rebuild a fund balance. Additionally, the conservator provides guidance and support to an administrative body and the Board of Trustees in pursuit of these efforts. Dr. Hooper is a TEA-certified conservator and served as a managing conservator under former TEA Commissioner Robert Scott.
Dr. Don W. Hooper brings more than 50 years of experience to DeSoto ISD having started his career in education in 1969 as a secondary math teacher and advancing to serve as an assistant principal, and principal before assuming his first superintendency in 1977. Hooper has led several school systems across Texas including Galena Park and Fort Bend ISD which served more than 63,000 students during Hooper’s tenure.
In addition to his extensive school leadership experience, Hooper served as president of the Texas Association of School Administrators as well as the American Association of School Administrators. Dr. Hooper has authored a number of texts and books regarding school leadership and administration and has taught collegiate courses for more than 15 years at the University of North Texas, the University of Texas and within the University of Houston System to develop educational professionals in the areas of organizational culture, school leadership, educational administration, finance, curriculum and instruction, educational law and public relations.
A number of other past and present employees of the district spoke at the hearing. All of them proud of their city and wanting to see the district return to a position of leadership among Texas communities. As many noted the errors of the District impact the children and the District needs to move forward with their best interest in mind.
More comments in future days will determine the path the district will take and how citizens react to tonight’s meeting. You can reach out to us by email via [email protected] to share your thoughts.