West Orange Cove CISD Special Called Meeting
The board of trustees of the WOCCISD held a special called meeting to discuss and act on items relative to the search and hiring of a new superintendent. Board president Pete Amy started the meeting bypassing the normal order of business and going straight to the agenda items.
The first item was a motion to hire a consulting firm for the search for the new superintendent. The motion failed by a vote of two for and five against. The decision is that the board will conduct its own search without outside assistance.
Item five on the agenda was the presentation of a search calendar. This item was moved up the agenda and discussed as the second item. Board president Pete Amy read the calendar, starting with the mailing of advertisements for the position of superintendent of schools this week and concluding with the selection of the candidate on March 19, 2015. After the presentation of the calendar, board member Nathaniel Colbert began to object to the calendar by asking who had created the calendar. Amy replied that he had made the calendar after researching the process and timetables that had been used by other districts in their search for superintendents. Colbert replied that he would have felt better if other board members had been consulted. Amy informed him that the calendar had been sent to board members in their agenda packets the Friday before the meeting. “I’m not saying it was not sent out, I am saying I did not get it”, said Colbert. “We can reject this and wait, we can wait two years if we want to”, said Amy. “We can wait as long as we want to, but as board president I am trying to move our board along in this process. We have to set a calendar before we know how to proceed.” Motion was made by Bryan Thomas Muhammad and seconded by Colbert to reject the calendar. The motion passed four to three to not accept the search calendar. Amy then asked “what is the pleasure of the board? We have to know how to proceed with this matter.”
Colbert than began a long statement about how the whole board needed to be consulted and that he had to look at his schedule, that as a shift worker he could not agree to any scheduling of dates without knowing how those days would mesh with his work schedule. Muhammad said he also needed time to look at his schedule and that he thought they should wait a couple of weeks to vote after they have had time to review their work schedules. “We do not have another board meeting scheduled this year”, said Amy. It was then pointed out by Ruth Hancock that the calendar had been attached to the agenda that were emailed out and received last Friday. “You have had time to look at it, is the problem that it is set, or that you have not had time to look at it?” asked Hancock. “Is the problem that it is set, or that Pete Amy set it?” asked Amy. “We need to have a calendar set so that we can proceed in a timely manner.”
“I’m not retired. I need to look and my schedule so that I can decide on the dates”, said Muhammad.
“We need something to work with, other than it is not acceptable”, said Amy. “I am trying to get suggestions about what is wrong with it other than you do not like it because you did not see it. We need some suggestions so that we can proceed. This has to be discussed in public, not in a closed session. We have to give out applications, we have to receive applications and we have to interview the applicants.”
Colbert continued to assert that he did not receive the calendar in his packet. Amy said he needed to talk to the technology department to see why Colbert did not receive his packet. “What if my computer is broken? Do I need to bring it to you to prove it is broken? I am telling you for the last time, I did not receive the packet”, said Colbert.
With no resolution of the problem another meeting is set for December 15 to discuss the issue of the calendar. The board then adjourned into a closed session to discuss items relating to personnel that cannot be discussed in open meetings. After one hour and 15 minutes the board returned and reconvened the open session.
In open session Colbert made a motion with a second by Muhammad to select Dr. Timothy Chargios as the interim superintendent. The motion failed by a vote of four against, three for. Amy, Hancock, Mitchell, and Sarah Jefferson-Simon cast the dissenting votes.
Attendance at the meeting had been standing room only with an overflow crowd of well over 100 people. Reaction to the votes was mixed. Some expressed disappointment that the board chose not to hire a search firm. There were those who were pleased with the rejection of Chargois because of his record as superintendent with the Beaumont ISD. There were hometown supporters who had wanted to see Chargois hired.
For the present time, Dr. Slivia Martinez will continue to serve as interim Superintendent.