TEA Monitor Recommends State Renew Oversight Of South San School Board | Texas Public Radio

TEA Monitor Recommends State Renew Oversight Of South San School Board

May 16, 2019

The monitor appointed by the Texas Education Agency to observe the South San Antonio Independent School District is recommending that the state return the district to the oversight of a conservator.

TEA monitor Laurie Elliott told South San trustees Wednesday night that the board majority broke state law by creating the district’s budget and ignoring the superintendent’s recommendations.

“They are violating law by not allowing the superintendent to make recommendations. Also, according to the law, the board is to work collaboratively with the board. There is absolutely no evidence of collaboration on the part of the board,” Elliott said.

A state-appointed conservator has the authority to override board decisions. TEA decided last year that South San was ready to stand on its own after two years under the guidance of a conservator.

State senators Pete Flores (R-San Antonio) and José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) asked TEA to re-appoint a conservator to the board in April, citing concerns that the board majority’s push to reopen three previously closed schools was a poor use of the district’s money. Later that month, TEA notified South San that it had opened a special accreditation investigation into the district.

Elliott said in her report that most violations of state law were motivated by the board majority’s goal of reopening the schools by this fall, but she said she was concerned by how the board conducts business, not its choice to reopen schools.

“How you run your board meetings and the focus of this board will impact the students of this district. Your adult behaviors and the adult behaviors that happen in this board room trickle all the way down to the classrooms,” Elliott said.

Elliott also reprimanded South San trustees for spending less than two minutes of Wednesday night’s nearly nine-hour meeting on student outcomes. She said the state-supported Lone Star Governance model calls for 50 percent of board meetings to focus on student learning and support.

After Elliott concluded her presentation, Board President Connie Prado directed the district’s attorney to take a look at her report.

“There are some issues there that should probably be addressed,” Prado said.

Trustees also voted 6 to 1 last night to approve contracts with architects to renovate the three schools in time to reopen them in the fall.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille.