Tag Archives: Amarillo ISD board of trustees

AISD faces a curious statement of support

Let me see if I am hearing this correctly.

John Ben Blanchard’s resignation from the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees puts the school board in a position of appointing someone to fill that seat.

John Betancourt is getting some social media love from AISD residents who want him to get the appointment.

But . . . wait! 

Betancourt was just voted off the board of trustees in early May. He was one of two incumbents who lost their bid for re-election.

So, now the community is hearing from supporters of Betancourt who want him reinstated as an AISD board member just after he got booted out of office by the school district’s voters?

Betancourt’s fans want a Hispanic voice on the board. Betancourt provided that voice before he lost his re-election bid.

Here’s a thought from a former Amarillo resident — that would be me — who has spent a good bit of time and energy over the years commenting on school district policy: Look elsewhere for someone to take John Ben Blanchard’s place on the AISD board. If the school system needs a Hispanic board member to address issues relevant to the district’s burgeoning Hispanic population, it can choose from among plenty of qualified individuals to fill that need.

I don’t know Betancourt, other than through social media. I argued on this blog for a housecleaning on the AISD board in the wake of the Kori Clements coaching resignation fiasco and the board’s stone-cold silence regarding the issues that have arisen.

If Betancourt wants back on the board, he ought to run for the office at the next opportunity and persuade voters they made a mistake in kicking him out of office.

Amarillo school voters sending a message to district?

I awoke this morning in Collin County not knowing what to expect when I searched for results from Saturday’s vote results way up yonder in Amarillo.

Then I saw it: Two Amarillo school trustee incumbents lost their bids for re-election, which I hope means a potential change is in the works for the way the school board might clean up a mess it has on its hands.

Jim Austin and John Betancourt are out. Three newbies are joining the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees: Dick Ford, Kimberly Anderson and Alonzo Everhart. I don’t know the new folks. Of the two incumbents who lost, I have met only one of them, Austin.

So, what gives?

The AISD election occurred in the midst of a mess created when an Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach, Kori Clements, resigned. She said a parent hassled her over playing time she was giving the parent’s daughters. Clements is an AHS grad, a product of the vaunted high school volleyball program. She quit after a single season. She also said the school board and the administration didn’t give her the backing she believes she deserved.

The school board hasn’t handled this situation well . . . at all! An AISD constituent filed a complaint with the Texas Education Association; a group of parents has formed to call for an “independent investigation” into one of the specific complaints filed by the constituent, that the offending parent is a member of the AISD school board.

The board has been silent on all of this.

Voters had their say Saturday night. They gave two incumbents the boot. I don’t know what was in the minds of voters who cast their ballots. I hope they were speaking on behalf of those observers who want more transparency and accountability from the school board and administration over this and other matters.

Here’s what I do know: The AISD board would do well to look inward and decide if it has handled this Kori Clements in the most up-front manner possible. If not, then it ought to change its ways. If it fails to do so, then another election cycle likely will continue the job of housecleaning that began this weekend.

It should hit the fan at Amarillo ISD . . . but will it?

A high school volleyball coach’s stunning resignation is continuing to reverberate around the Amarillo Independent School District.

Indeed, the coach’s resignation has now gone to the Texas Education Agency, which has received a complaint from an angry AISD constituent who is accusing the school board and the administration of unethical conduct.

Hold on, folks. This might get rough. Indeed, it should.

Kori Clements resigned as Amarillo High School’s volleyball coach after just one season. She cited parental interference into the way she was parceling out playing time. She said in her resignation letter that the school board and administration failed to give her the backing she deserved.

She quit one of the state’s premier volleyball programs after a single season. Clements, a 2006 AHS graduate, walked away.

Are you still with me? Here’s the fun part.

Marc Henson, an AISD constituent and the parent of future AHS students, has filed a complaint with the TEA. He names AISD trustee Renee McCown specifically as the parent who interfered with the coach’s playing-time decisions, which reportedly affected McCown’s two daughters.

Henson said he wants McCown to resign from the board. He also believes the allegations against her are credible. He also believes the administration is complicit, along with the board, in fomenting what he calls unethical conduct.

I have tried to soft-pedal the alleged involvement of a particular trustee in this mess. Marc Henson’s complaint has more or less blown the lid off the matter.

According to KFDA NewsChannel 10: The complaint alleges Renee McCown, an AISD school board trustee, spoke with the former coach privately about her decisions, athletes and playing times on the volleyball team, specifically targeting her two daughters.

What he is alleging here is a serious breach of ethical conduct on the part of an elected public official. That a member of the AISD board would meddle into the coaching decisions of an educator is reprehensible on its face. What we well might have witnessed is a case of coercion and intimidation that has no place in public education — at any level.

What’s more is that the school board has remained silent about it. It hides behind some policy that mutes the board because we are dealing with a “personnel matter.”

Henson wants the TEA to invoke some form of punishment against the Amarillo public school system — presuming the allegations prove true.

This saga has some way to go before it finishes playing out.

My hope is that the TEA gives this complaint serious attention.

Lessons to be learned from coach/parent confrontation

The coaching crisis that erupted in Amarillo, Texas, a few weeks ago has stuck in my craw ever since it came to my attention.

Absent any explicit denials of what caused the head coach of a vaunted girls high school volleyball program to quit after a single season, I am left to conclude that what she alleged about parental interference is essentially true.

Kori Clements resigned as Amarillo High’s volleyball coach. She blamed parental interference into playing time decisions the coach was making as her reason for quitting. Clements cited a lack of support from the Amarillo school district administration and the board as the catalyst for her resignation.

I won’t get into the details of what allegedly occurred, or discuss the parent involved.

However, there is a stern lesson that must not be lost on parents of children who are enrolled in public schools. The lesson also applies — perhaps even more stringently — to parents of those students who participate in extracurricular activities.

The bottom line? Let the educators in whose trust we put our children do the jobs they are paid to do!

Coaches, or band directors, or theatrical instructors all play a part in extending children’s educational experience. We should trust that they are doing their jobs ethically, with compassion, patience and even love for our children.

Absent demonstrable abuse or incompetence on an educator’s part, parents are asked simply to do the right thing by their children, which is to give them support and to encourage them to do their best. It’s in the unwritten rule book under Parenthood 101.

There appears to be no sign — none whatsoever! — of anything approaching malfeasance on the part of Coach Clements. She wasn’t abusing her athletes or mistreating them in any way. She reportedly was seeking to put the best players on the floor and seeking to manage their playing time to produce the most victories for her school volleyball team as possible.

There is a lesson here for all parents and, yes, for all school administrators.

Just as parents must support their children, school administrators must demonstrate support for the faculty members they hire to educate the children parents put in their trust.

This Amarillo Independent School District story likely hasn’t played itself out all the way. I’ll continue to watch it unfold as time goes by.

But, dang it, man! Let’s not allow the horrendous mistakes — and alleged misconduct — of a fanatical parent cause us to lose sight of the need to protect our children properly or of the need to support the educators who are doing the right thing.