Tag Archives: Amarillo ISD

Might the coach reconsider? Hmm?

I’m going to throw a bit of blind speculation out there for you to ponder.

Kori Clements quit her post as Amarillo High School’s girls volleyball coach this week, citing harassment and hassling from the parent of one of her athletes. Clements said the parent was angry because Clements wasn’t giving her daughter enough playing time for the vaunted Sandies’ volleyball program.

Her resignation — after just one season as coach — has ignited a serious firestorm in the Amarillo school district athletic community . . . or so I have been led to believe.

The Amarillo school board of trustees is meeting Tuesday evening. You can bet your big ol’ four-wheel-drive pickup that Clements’ sudden and shocking resignation will be on the minds of what I suspect will be a large crowd of spectators crammed into the school board meeting room.

Is it possible that Clements could get some form of public apology from the school board, perhaps even from the offending parent? Maybe from the administration, which she accused of failing to give her proper backing?

If all that comes to pass, might the young coach reconsider her resignation?

Just thinking out loud, man.

Amarillo is showing how it is so ‘tightly bound’

The beans apparently have been spilled over the identity of the parent who harassed Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach Kori Clements enough to make her quit a plum coaching job after just one season.

Renee McCown, that would be you. Or so it appears.

Oh, brother. This is likel to get ugly. You see, McCown is a member of the Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees. It’s bad enough that a meddlesome parent would feel the need to hassle and harass a coach over the decisions the coach makes about giving her athletes playing time. Coach Clements quit because the parent griped incessantly that her daughter wasn’t getting time on the floor during volleyball matches.

The school board is meeting Tuesday. The chatter I’m getting from afar is that many in the community are outraged over the treatment of the coach. The outrage deepens because the person responsible for the messy treatment happens — allegedly — to be someone who most certainly should know better.

That the source of the harassment would be a school board trustee makes this matter even worse than it otherwise would be.

Every now and then you hear about elected officials meddling in administrative matters or worse, in the work of employees who report to the administrators. At City Hall, you might get a council member interfering in, say, police work, going over the head of the city manager and the chief of police. Don’t misunderstand: I am not saying that has happened in Amarillo; I use that example merely to illustrate a point.

School trustees make a single hire: that would be the superintendent. As chief administrator, the superintendent hires all the administrative staffers who report directly to the top person.

In the military, they call it the “chain of command.” One does not dare break that chain by going over and around the people who are responsible for those under their direct supervision.

If what I understand has happened in the relationship between an AISD school trustee and a highly respected high school volleyball coach is true, then we have a serious case of malfeasance — on the part of the trustee — on our hands.

One of two things ought to happen quickly. The trustee needs to apologize publicly and pledge to never interfere again. Or that person needs to resign from public office.

Get ready for an assault, Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees

If I were a betting man I’d wager damn near all I had on how the next Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting is going to unfold.

My strong hunch is that a young volleyball coach, Kori Clements, will be Topic A on the minds of a large crowd of spectators gathered in the AISD board meeting room on Tuesday night.

You see, Clements tendered her resignation letter the other day as head volleyball coach at Amarillo High School. She doesn’t have a new job awaiting her. Nor did she break any rules. Nope. Instead, she is leaving one of the plum high school coaching jobs in all of Texas because she was harassed, harangued and hectored by a zealous parent of one of the student-athletes on the team. It’s one season and out for Coach Clements!

Indeed, Amarillo High is one of the premier high school volleyball powers in Texas, winning numerous state titles.

What’s more, there’s a whole lot of chatter apparently bouncing around Amarillo that the parent most certainly should have known better than to interfere with a coach doing her job.  I also understand that Coach Clements is getting a whole lot of love from the Amarillo High athletic community.

Kori Clements apparently did her job well. The problem, as Clements said in her letter of resignation, was she wasn’t playing the daughter of the offending parent enough. She had the temerity — and that’s my term, not hers — to play the best athletes on the Amarillo High girls volleyball team.

That fundamental coaching decision didn’t set well with the parent who, through her harassment, sought to interfere with the way the coach was doing her job.

Clements, who graduated from Amarillo High and who played for a legendary girls volleyball coach, the recently retired Jan Barker, has had enough. So she quit.

The AISD board has, shall we say, a “situation” on its hands. It’s going to discuss this “personnel matter” among trustees. The Texas Open Meetings Law stipulates that governing bodies are empowered to discuss these matters in executive — or private — sessions, away from the public’s eyes and ears. The law, though, doesn’t require it. The school district is allowed to waive that executive privilege if it so desires.

I won’t bet all my cash on whether the board will decide to discuss this in the open, providing a remarkable degree of transparency. It is my strong preference that it do so. After all, Coach Clements’ letter of resignation was in itself highly transparent, given the reasons she stated as to why she was leaving this post after just one season.

I don’t live in Amarillo these days. However, as luck would have it, my wife and I are venturing back next week to the city we called home for more than two decades. I intend to take a look and lend an ear to what transpires in the AISD board room Tuesday night.

It might get ugly. And for good reason.

Amarillo school board now faces community scrutiny

We’re heading back to Amarillo early next week for a few days and I think I might take some time to attend an Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting.

The board has some questions to answer regarding the sudden resignation of a young coach who quit her job after one season holding one of the more prestigious jobs in Texas high school athletics.

Kori Clements quit as Amarillo High’s girls volleyball coach. She didn’t offer a milquetoast “thank you for the opportunity” to coach one of the state’s top volleyball programs. Oh, no. She said she resigned because the Amarillo Independent School District administration did back her in the face of constant haranguing and harassment she was getting from a parent of the girls on her team.

What’s more, the nagging parent happens to be a key player in the AISD community. I have it on good authority who the offending parent is, but I will keep it to myself.

Clements is a 2006 Amarillo High grad, so she’s got plenty of history with the school system. She isn’t some interloper who landed the coaching gig without knowing the history behind the storied volleyball program. She is a protégé of Jan Barker, the retired AHS volleyball coach and a recent inductee into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame.

As I understand the situation, Clements — according to the parent — wasn’t giving the parent’s daughter sufficient playing time. The parent then decided to hassle the coach incessantly. Coach Clements sought redress from the administration, asking administrators to pull the parent off her case. AISD administrators failed to back their coach, according to Clements’ letter of resignation.

From what I also understand, the offending parent is in a position to make life seriously difficult for administrators who might intervene on the coach’s behalf.

So . . . with that, the AISD board will convene a meeting Monday night at the Rod Schroder Education Center. My strong hunch is that the meeting room will be full of spectators.

I hope I can find a chair if I’m able to attend. If not, well, I’ll just stand, watch and listen.

AISD boss to, um, retire?

If the recent “retirement” of Texas Tech University System Chancellor Bob Duncan taught us anything, it is to be sure we don’t take their initial statements at face value.

Given that, the announcement today that Amarillo Independent School District Superintendent Dana West is retiring from a job she has held for three years makes me wonder: What’s the story behind the story?

Duncan announced his retirement at Tech, but then we learned that Tech regents had voted secretly to deliver him a vote of no confidence. Sure, he retired. However, it was under duress.

AISD officials are going to meet next week to decide whether to accept West’s retirement. Oh, and then trustees are going to consider appointing an interim superintendent.

Let me think. Is it normal for a school superintendent to “retire” at the start of a school year and then walk away?

I, um, don’t think so.

Explanation, please, for this resignation

James Allen isn’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill anonymous municipal bureaucrat.

He also happens to be a politician of some renown in Amarillo, having served for years on the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees.

Until recently, Allen served the city as its Community Development administrator. Then he quit. His resignation also comes in the midst of the city’s debate and discussion over how it handles its homeless population, an issue that involves Allen’s former office directly.

The Amarillo Globe-News has called correctly for a more fulsome explanation from the city as to why Allen quit, citing the public’s need to know why one of the city’s more high-profile administrators has walked off the job.

For that matter, you could make the same request of Allen himself. He hasn’t been forthcoming as to his reason for quitting, or whether he was asked to resign.

Allen has been involved in some high-profile matters involving the Amarillo ISD, namely the “changing” (if you want to call it that) the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to, um, Lee Elementary School. More recently, Allen has led the board toward a discussion of how it can change its district-wide voting plan to a single-member district plan to ensure more minority representation on the AISD board of trustees.

He is not exactly disappearing from public view.

However, James Allen has departed a municipal administrative post with no explanation yet to the people who foot City Hall’s bill as to why he has resigned.

Let’s have it.

AISD makes potentially huge move

Well, ruffle my hair and call me Frankie!

I spoke rather skeptically in an earlier blog post about whether Amarillo’s public school board would take this step, but — as is often the case — they proved me wrong.

The Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees voted 7-0 Monday to begin researching ways to dramatically change its voting plan. It wants to look at how it can move from an at-large plan to one that elects trustees from single-member districts.

It’s a realization of the changing demographics within the district and whether the school board reflects the needs and wishes of all 33,000 students and their parents.

This decision doesn’t guarantee a change in the voting plan. It does move the district a big step forward toward that end.

Trustees, acting on a recommendation from the lone African-American on the board, James Allen, have directed the AISD legal team to begin researching ways to achieve the transition.

AISD comprises many disparate neighborhoods comprising residents of equally disparate socio-economic backgrounds. There are plenty of high-end neighborhoods, along with neighborhoods at the other end of the scale.

And, yes, we also have this issue of racial and ethnic diversity. Amarillo’s student body census is comprising an increasing number of Latin-American, African and Asian backgrounds. Their needs are quite different from their Anglo classmates.

AISD doesn’t elect trustees from a purely at-large system. It instituted a cumulative voting plan some years ago to settle a lawsuit brought by Latin-American residents.

AISD’s legal counsel has many issues to consider. I’m glad the board has given the OK to begin that journey.

So, let the studies commence. May they bear fruit.

Amarillo school may get an ID change

Amarillo public school officials are about to jump with both feet into a national debate over the naming of public buildings after Confederate icons.

At issue is the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, which sits in the midst of the city’s African-American community.

Amarillo Independent School District trustees are going to discuss on Monday whether to change the name of the school.

My own preference? Change the name.

This entire Confederate name-change discussion erupted in the wake of that riot in Charlottesville, Va., when counter protesters clashed with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a statute of Gen. Lee.

The Amarillo NAACP chapter favors changing the name. No surprise there. NAACP chapter president Floyd Anthony says Gen. Lee’s name on a public building that serves a hugely African-American student body — and their parents — is a slap in the face to those residents.

He makes a good point.

Gen. Lee led the Confederate States of America army that fought against the United States of America. They committed an act of treason by seceding from the Union. Why did they secede? They fought to something called “states’ rights,” which was code for allowing states to continuing the enslavement of human beings.

They were black human beings.

The war killed 600,000 people. It was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history.

More than 150 years later, the vestiges of that war remain with these public monuments to the men who stood foursquare against the Union.

And spare me the “heritage” argument. The Confederate battle flag has become the very symbol of hate groups such as the KKK. Do we want to honor the Klan? I think not.

To the Amarillo ISD board members, I wish them good luck as they ponder their potentially huge decision.

I hope it’s the correct one.

AISD voters were in generous mood

I didn’t have any skin in that election game, but I am glad to see Amarillo public schools receive the support they got from voters.

My wife and I live in the Canyon Independent School District, so we didn’t get to vote Tuesday for Amarillo ISD’s $100 million bond issue. However, I am delighted to see that AISD is able to improve and expand educational opportunities for many of its 33,000 students.

AISD board vice president F. Scott Flow (pictured) said he is “excited” about the results. Do you think?

I wouldn’t call it a sweeping mandate, given that only 9 percent of AISD’s registered voters actually cast ballots. The turnout, though, did exceed the state’s paltry 5 percent — which was less than half of the 2015 statewide constitutional amendment election.

We hear occasionally about voter stinginess. They express their dismay at local government at times by rejecting measures that ask them for more money to pay for public projects. AISD must not suffer from the reservoir of ill will that sometimes plagues local government entities.

Here, though, is the heartening aspect of what transpired with the AISD vote result. Voters have affirmed a fundamental truth about public education, which is that it doesn’t come free. There’s always a cost that taxpayers must bear.

If we’re going to demand the best for our children, then we must be prepared to dig a little deeper to pay for it. AISD officials estimate the bond issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $50 more each year in property taxes.

Let’s see, that’s the cost of about 10 deluxe coffee drinks, or a carton of smokes or a tank of gasoline to fill an SUV.

What will 50 bucks a year for that 100 grand home buy? Most of the dough will improve restrooms, locker rooms, auditoriums and infrastructure throughout the school district; AISD also is planning new classrooms at four schools.

I’m just a spectator here. However, I am glad to see that AISD voters — the puny turnout numbers notwithstanding — have chosen to forgo bitterness and decided to invest in public education.

Is this how a school trustee should behave?

I’ll get right to the point on this blog post.

John Betancourt should resign his seat on the Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees.

I say this without knowing this fellow personally. But when I read that he’s had two alcohol-related infractions, including a drunken driving citation issued just recently, I believe it is time for someone who is elected to an important public office to call it quits.

Betancourt helps set education policy for a public school district comprising 30,000-plus students. As an AISD “trustee,” moreover, he is entrusted with setting a good example for the students — and their parents — who are affected by the policies he sets.

Call me a prude if you wish. I don’t mind. I find it unacceptable that someone who holds an elected public office can serve in such a capacity when he or she breaks the law. Driving a motor vehicle while impaired by consuming too much alcohol is a serious matter, to my way of thinking.

Betancourt told the Amarillo Globe-News that the DWI arrest in 2015 is “old news.” Uh, no. It isn’t. It reflects badly on the individual who commits the infraction. More importantly, it also reflects badly on the publicly funded institution he was elected to serve.