News does travel quickly.
I got word way down yonder in Collin County that an Amarillo Independent School District trustee who’s been implicated in an ongoing controversy in the district is resigning.
The school board is meeting on Thursday and one of the agenda items to be considered is whether to accept the resignation of trustee Renee McCown. This is a very big deal, folks. I now will explain why. Bear with me as I repeat a little of what is known already.
An Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach, Kori Clements, resigned earlier in the school year after a single season. She said in her resignation letter that a parent was hassling her over playing time she was giving the parent’s daughters. Clements said in her resignation that the board and the administration failed to back her.
The board accepted the coach’s resignation without comment after hearing from a number of AISD constituents who were displeased with the way the coach was treated. I heard the complaints first hand, as I attended that meeting.
Then came a complaint filed by an AISD constituent with the Texas Education Agency that named the offending parent: McCown, a trustee on the school board.
McCown has been silent on the allegation. So has the rest of the board. Superintendent Doug Loomis did issue a statement denying the allegation against McCown, although the statement offered virtually no specifics.
So now it appears that McCown is out. She leaves on the heels of the resignation of another trustee, John Ben Blanchard, and after two other trustees — John Betancourt and Jim Austin — lost their re-election bids in early May. A fifth incumbent, Scott Flow, did not seek a new term.
That means the board soon will have five new faces out of seven members on its body.
What does that mean in terms of the school system’s controversy? I haven’t a clue. If the board accepts McCown’s resignation, it will cleanse itself — not to mention the district — of an odorous chapter in its recent history.
The implication that a school trustee would interfere in the performance of a staffer’s duties is the kind of thing that needs to be dealt with openly. The AISD board has been stone-cold silent, citing “personnel policy” for its reticence. That silence has failed to serve the district, its constituents, its students, its faculty, administrators and, yes, even its trustees well.
I’ve noted already that I do not know Renee McCown, although I do wish her well as she prepares to leave local politics.
But there’s a stern and unmistakable lesson to be learned here. It is that elected officials are “hired” by their constituents to set educational policy. These officials are not elected to butt in where they don’t belong.