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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 56 YEARS

November/December 2009

In this issue: Outstanding School Board 2009 TSPRA Key Communicator TASA/TASB in photos

Superintendent of the Year Oscar Rodriguez Jr. Mission CISD


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CONTENTS In the Spotlight: John Hoyle of the Administrative Leadership Institute

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Elizabeth Millard

COVER: Mission CISD’s Oscar Rodriguez Jr. is 2009 Superintendent of the Year

12

Jennifer LeClaire

Caudill Award goes to Boerne-Samuel V. Champion High School

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Weatherford ISD trustees named 2009 Outstanding School Board

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Shelley Seale

TASA’s Johnny Veselka receives 2009 TSPRA Key Communicator Award

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photo FEATURE Houston hosts 49th annual TASA/TASB convention

DEPartments

36

COLUMNS

Who’s News

17

TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

19

In Memoriam

34

Advertisers Index

38

From the Editor

5

Young’s Inbox

The Law Dawg  —  unleashed

7

The Back Page

Katie Ford Jim Walsh

John Young

Riney Jordan

Above photo: Weatherford ISD board President Yale Young (right) accepts the 2009 Outstanding School Board award from TASA President John Folks at the 49th annual TASA/TASB convention. The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication. November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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From the Editor It’s been a few days since I returned from the 49th annual TASA/ TASB convention in early October in Houston, and I am still thinking about “Dr. Q.” For those of you who weren’t there, Dr. Alfredo QuiñonesHinojosa was the keynote speaker during the Saturday morning general session. This man’s story will be forever imprinted on my brain — an organ that Dr. Q refers to as “the most beautiful part of the human body.” Quiñones-Hinojosa arrived in the United States in 1987 as an illegal immigrant. He spoke no English and had nothing but a dream in his pocket. Today, he is an assistant professor of neurosurgery and oncology and director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. To paraphrase his incredible journey in his words, “These same hands that once were picking tomatoes are now performing brain surgery in the name of finding a cure for one of the deadliest diseases known to man.” Dr. Q shared many anecdotes that morning that filled me with awe, but what stood out to me was his insistence that we embrace our fears (“in the midst of chaos lies opportunity”) and face life with resilience, passion and dedication. Following Dr. Q’s orders is no small task, and he admits that it takes more than sheer will to pull it off. At every crossroads in his life, he had mentors to guide him. According to Dr. Q, you, as a public school official, are perfectly positioned to be that important mentor — with every kind word you speak and in every wise decision you make. You can make all the difference. I offer this issue, filled with stories of award-winning administrators and educators, as Exhibit A. Katie Ford, editor

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(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) November/December 2009 Volume LVI, Issue 2 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editor Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Jim Walsh, John Young Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Business Manager Debbie Stover Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel Web Manager Andrew Page ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and for the Bragging Rights issue published in December (11 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009

11/25/2008 10:36:53 AM


THE LAW DAWG – unleashed by Jim Walsh

How to avoid the T-shirt wars

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-shirts have become human billboards. They can advertise products, promote political causes, praise and honor, or criticize and demean. Like bumper stickers, T-shirts have become a major means of selfexpression. Which, of course, is free speech protected by the First Amendment, right? At the mall, the answer to that question is surely “yes.” But a recent decision from the 5th Circuit makes it clear that a school district can adopt a “content neutral” dress code even if that means that students’ rights of free expression are, thereby, limited. The case started up when Paul Palmer, a student in Waxahachie, showed up at school wearing a T-shirt with “San Diego” written on it. Now that’s a pretty innocuous message. We doubt that Palmer’s shirt would cause any sort of problem at school. As you readers know, student free speech, as a general rule, cannot be inhibited unless you can reasonably forecast a “material and substantial” disruption. But the assistant principal informed young Palmer that the T-shirt violated the school’s dress code, which prohibited any printed messages on clothing. Enter the Palmer parents, whom I suspect were familiar with Tinker v. Des Moines ISD, the famous black-armband case. The parents brought their son a new T-shirt to wear at school. It read: “John Edwards for President ’08.” Keep in mind that this happened when Edwards was a viable candidate for president. Thus, the T-shirt was a political statement just like the black armbands in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that kids can express political views in school as long as those expressions are not likely to lead to a “material and substantial” disruption of school. Undeterred, Waxahachie ISD school officials stuck to their dress code and rejected the Edwards campaign T-shirt. Off to court we go. However, to make sure the issue was clearly drawn, the parents offered another T-shirt for their son to wear at school. This one stated “First Amendment” on the front with the text of the amendment on the back. Oh, boy.

The 5th Circuit ruled for the school district in an opinion that is a must-read for campus administrators. The case is Palmer v. Waxahachie ISD, and it was decided on Aug. 13. The 5th Circuit provided a good history of the subject of student free speech, noting the four types of speech that can be regulated or prohibited by school officials. They are (1) speech likely to lead to a major disruption; (2) lewd and offensive speech; (3) school-sponsored speech, such as in a school play or a yearbook; and (4) speech that promotes drug use. Each of these four categories was established by a U.S. Supreme Court case. And then the 5th Circuit added a new category: Schools can regulate student expression in ways that are viewpoint- and content-neutral. The key to the district’s success in the litigation was that the dress code was absolutely content neutral. The district didn’t care whether a student’s clothing promoted John Edwards, Ron Paul or John McCain. It didn’t care if a T-shirt read “San Diego” or “San Antonio.” Policy simply prohibited all printed messages other than those promoting school-sponsored teams or organizations. I count this as a very good, commonsense decision. There have been many reported cases involving students who have worn T-shirts to school with very offensive and inflammatory messages on them. The messages may be left wing or right, but regardless of which side of the culture wars they advocate, they deal with hot button issues such as race, abortion, religion and homosexuality. Bringing such emotionally charged issues into the school setting distracts from the primary mission of the school. There is a time and place for students to learn how to discuss such issues in a civil and respectful way. But many school officials have concluded that slogans on T-shirts do not advance that cause. JIM WALSH is editor in chief of Texas School Business. Also a school attorney, he co-founded the firm of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, PC. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa.com. November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009

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YOUNG’S INBOX by John Young

No longer tolerating zero tolerance

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he had a 700-kilowatt smile. As a subject, she was utterly incapable of taking a bad photograph. And, yet, when I think of one odious incident, I think of her frown. That was when as a first grader she was suspended from school. Charge: terrorist threat. What had she done? Something childish. Once on the playground she got huffy about a childish slight. She cocked a stubby forefinger at a classmate and said, “If I had a gun, I’d shoot you.” For that she missed most of a week of school, while administrators considered what to do. They ultimately did what one ought: gently chide her for her choice of words and let her resume her schooling. How ridiculous that it took more than a lunch hour. Of course, this was in the wake of the Columbine killings, when school security was in overdrive and zero-tolerance policies were set on “overkill.” No matter that school was — and is — the safest place possible for the children of America. We saw something horrific on television and imputed horrors at one school to all. For me, our little friend, my sons’ playmate all those years ago, is the face of zero tolerance. One shudders to think how many children in America had to pay similar prices for being childish when the institutions around them were engaged in a SWAT team mentality. In Galveston a few years ago, a second grader was suspended three days for doing exactly what he should have done. His mother’s whacked-out boyfriend had put a handgun in the boy’s backpack. The child found it at school and took it to a teacher. Apparently, he should have thrown it in the bushes. Well, it is a pleasure to report that thanks to such atrocities, Texas lawmakers have said “enough.” House Bill 171

effectively ends zero-tolerance policies in Texas, requiring administrators to consider mitigating circumstances regarding incidents that previously landed students in suspension or alternative placement. As reluctant as I am to support even one more top-down order on schools from an everencroaching state: Hear, hear. For this we can give much credit to the media attention given the plight of Taylor Hess, a student at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst. He was expelled when a bread knife was found in his truck bed at campus. The kitchen utensil had fallen out of a sack bound for Goodwill. The student’s father fought the sanction; the case got publicity. Ultimately, the boy was at an alternative campus only a few days. My opinion: He shouldn’t have missed so much as a gym class. Last year a knife that was to serve as a haunted house prop was found under a car in a Garland ISD parking lot. The result: 32 days of placement for a student to an alternative campus. To its credit, Garland ISD now has dropped its zero-tolerance policies, devising new ways to deal with such matters. Campus fights happen. Zero tolerance will not prevent them. But such a policy might end up judging a victim of an assault just as guilty as an assailant, without working through the facts of the matter. Facts have to matter — intent, selfdefense — when considering campus incidents. More harm comes from push-button discipline than any benefit derived. It’s been 10 years since Columbine. Fortunately, Texas has told the SWAT team to stand down. JOHN YOUNG is a columnist for Cox Newspapers. You can see more of his work at www.johnyoungcolumn.com. He can be reached at jyoungcolumn@ gmail.com. November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009


In the

Spotlight

There’s no slowing down for longtime educator John Hoyle as he faces his retirement by Elizabeth Millard

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houghts of retirement might spark images of leisurely days spent on the golf course, but John Hoyle, who officially retired in August, is more likely to barrel into his golden years with the same momentum and energy he has displayed throughout his prolific career in educational administration. For his students and colleagues, his zest for the next big phase of his life comes as no surprise. As a longtime professor of K-12 administration in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University, Hoyle has garnered numerous honors over the past 34 years, including two Living Legend awards — one from the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration and another from the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration. In 2005, Hoyle was elected by more than 3,000 colleagues in the United States and Canada as one of the top four “exceptional living scholars in educational administration and leadership.” Hoyle has penned more than 100 scholarly journal articles, 12 books and individual chapters for more than 22 titles. Yet, most Texas school administrators have come to know Hoyle as the director of the Administrative Leadership Institute (ALI), a conference for public school administrators that he has spearheaded since 1983. The organization has found Hoyle’s guidance so distinctive that, in 2007, ALI established the Hoyle Award in Educational Leadership. Prior to becoming a professor at the university, Hoyle was a student there. An Oklahoma native, Hoyle attended Texas A&M University on a baseball scholarship in the early 1950s. Upon graduation, he worked as a teacher, coach and administrator in Odessa and Midland ISDs. Along the way, he earned three degrees from Texas A&M, including a doctorate in education and social science. Despite his career accolades and milestones, Hoyle remains humble.

“Teaching has been my love, so everything I’ve done is just based on that,” he says. “What I hope that I have done in my career is to encourage students, to get them enthusiastic about their role in education. This kind of thing spills over, after all; when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, other people will be too.” Drumming up enthusiasm among students in education administration has never seemed to be a problem for Hoyle. A popular speaker John Hoyle, recently retired, has led the Administrative Leadership and professor on campus, Institute at Texas A&M University since 1983. Hoyle has received two distinguished teaching awards from the Hoyle says he might spend only the Association of Former Students. When first year finishing up dissertations, but news began to spread on campus of his there’s plenty more work ahead after upcoming retirement, many doctoral stuthat, he believes. As part of the visiting dents scrambled to get their dissertations faculty at Sam Houston State University, done before Hoyle’s departure. In his proHoyle plans to stay active. He also plans fessorial career, Hoyle has chaired about to continue his consulting work with 120 doctoral committees. He’ll chair about school districts wanting to spiff up their another 15 in the near future. leadership training. “It’s hard work; it’s the greatest Recently, Hoyle ventured into pressure there is as a professor, because executive training for law enforcement your reputation rides on quality,” he says, — a market he will continue to pursue in and then adds with a laugh, “but it’s a retirement. His church even benefits from great compliment that so many students Hoyle’s love of teaching; he regularly told me I can’t leave until they finish their leads an adult Sunday school class that dissertations.” focuses on heroes of the Bible. In addition to assisting students For all the classroom time Hoyle through the dissertation process and will continue to clock in retirement, the teaching administration and leadership on longtime educator does understand that the Texas A&M campus, Hoyle notes that his new “three Rs” now include recreation through involvement with organizations and relaxation. like ALI, he has had the opportunity “There will be a fair amount of time to work with public school officials just hanging around my grandkids and my throughout Texas. family, and maybe I’ll do some fishing,” “I’ve always enjoyed talking with he says. “But in general, I don’t plan to superintendents, because they’re powerful slow down much.” in leading the state,” Hoyle says. “One of the things I’ve really tried to do is ELIZABETH MILLARD is a freelance to work closely with state leadership writer who also contributes to District and superintendents, and to make a Administration, a national magazine for school administrators. contribution in that way.” November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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Superintendent of the Year Mission CISD’s Oscar Rodriguez Jr. believes in success for all

M by Jennifer LeClaire

Mission CISD Superintendent Oscar Rodriguez Jr. delivers his acceptance speech during the 49th annual TASA/TASB convention. 12

Texas School Business • November/December 2009

ission CISD Superintendent Oscar Rodriguez Jr. knows that if you apply a little pressure on lowperforming students, you can transform those rough pieces of coal into sparkling diamonds.


That’s the driving philosophy behind many of Rodriguez’s initiatives in Mission CISD — initiatives that attracted the attention of the Texas Association of School Boards, which bestowed Rodriguez with its highest honor: Superintendent of the Year. Rodriguez accepted the award at the annual Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards convention in Houston in early October. Every year, TASB presents the award to recognize chief administrators who exemplify excellence and achievement in educational leadership. Superintendent of the Year candidates are chosen for their dedication to improving educational quality, board-superintendent relations, student achievement, commitment to community support and involvement in public education. Under Rodriguez’s leadership, Mission CISD was one of six districts in Texas recognized for using high school allotment funds to build a college-going culture. The district has experienced an increase in high school graduates going on to college, as well as an increase in the number of students taking the ACT. The district also actively works to reduce the dropout rate among ninth graders. “[Being named Superintendent of the Year] has been a truly humbling experience for me,” Rodriguez says. “While I came to Mission CISD in the spring of 2005 with a vision of where I wanted the district to be, it is the tremendous team of dedicated educators I work with and our board of trustees that should have been standing next to me at the awards presentation.”

Each year, Superintendent Rodriguez helps cook and serve at a thank-you barbeque for Mission CISD’s maintenance and transportation departments. Rodriguez (right) mans the grill alongside Ricardo Rivera, Mission CISD executive director for facilities, maintenance and construction.

of Texas-Pan American to create Operation College Bound, an initiative that helps high school seniors complete college and financial aid applications. “We make sure that every initiative we implement in our schools addresses the entire student population we serve — not just the top 15 percent that educators have a tendency to focus on when we talk about college readiness,” Rodriguez says. “The top 15 percent are going to college anyway. We focus on everyone, from the 50th percentile to the 25th percentile — even our special needs children. We truly believe that no child should be left behind.” Two years ago, Mission CISD Success for every student launched Operation College Bound. The program’s mission is to ensure all students The TASB selection committee noted are responsible, productive, college-ready Mission CISD’s emphasis on success for graduates. At the behest of the program, every student and its partnership with seniors are gathered in the school gym and South Texas College and The University — as Rodriguez explains it — their only ticket out is a completed college application. The result of the first year’s effort was a 37 percent increase in Mission CISD students attending South Texas Community College. A second emphasis of Operation College Superintendent Rodriguez (wearing tie) meets with Mission CISD’s student Bound is to increase the advisory committee, which consists of representatives from each grade at number of students sitting the district’s two high schools. The year-round meetings have resulted in for the ACT exam and better student understanding of various school issues, as well as district to improve their scores. operational improvements based on student input.

Mission CISD offers extra credit to students taking a college-readiness program that prepares them for the ACT. The program is bearing fruit: The district’s average student score increased from 17 two years ago to 18.5 today. Preventive education Beyond Operation College Bound, Rodriguez also set out to decrease the dropout rate by increasing literacy with a program called Operation Graduation. Because most dropping out occurs between the ninth and 10th grades, Rodriguez tapped into high school allotment monies to hire more ninth grade teachers so he could lower the pupil-teacher ratio in the core courses to no more than 22 to 1. The program takes a preemptive, preventive approach to dealing with students struggling to pass the ninth grade. Students are placed on a grade recovery system rather than a credit recovery system. According to Rodriguez, if educators wait until the student has lost a credit to intervene, then that student cannot pass the grade. Because many students don’t want to face the embarrassment of repeating a grade, they often drop out instead. Operation Graduation also monitors the classrooms for struggling kids. When poorly-performing students are identified, they receive tutoring and mentoring to raise their grades. Non-core-class teachers See MISSION CISD on page 15

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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MISSION CISD continued from page 13

make phone calls to students’ homes, check attendance records, investigate for disciplinary or health problems and work to help the students overcome their struggles — academic or otherwise. “We realized that if we didn’t increase the passing rate in ninth grade, we weren’t going to have many kids to take through Operation College Bound in their senior year,” Rodriguez says. “The first time we started tracking [the program’s results], we still had a large failure rate. But after three years, we’re beginning to see an increase in passing rates because the teachers have more time to deal with these children.” The man behind the title Rodriguez has 30 years of experience in education administration. He came to Mission CISD from United ISD in Laredo, where he served as superintendent. Rodriguez began his education career as a high school teacher in Dallas in 1974. He spent those early years teaching English and speech. He went on to serve as a principal at the elementary, middle school and high school levels before accepting a position as an area superintendent in Dallas ISD. Rodriguez then moved

on to the superintendent’s post with United ISD. Rodriguez holds a master of education degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of North Texas. He has certifications in superintendent midmanagement administration, secondary English and secondary speech. He has been active in the local United Way, chamber of commerce, Mission Economic Development Association and Leadership Mission. In addition, he works with various district-level Superintendent Rodriguez surprises then-District Secondary Teacher of the Year Iris Hines with flowers. advisory committees, the District Hines was named a finalist in the state competition in 2008. Council of PTOs and the Mission CISD Council of Clergy, among others. “You take the job of superintendent The saying goes that all good things with one main focus,” Rodriguez says. must come to an end, and this unfortunately “That focus should always be the is the case for Mission CISD; Rodriguez’s students. If you are making sure that what contract with the district ends this school you are doing as a school district is in the year. The superintendent is preparing to best interest of the students, then you leave the district, because his wife, Dr. can go to sleep at night knowing you Claudia Rodriguez, has taken a position as are making a positive difference. Seeing the executive director of human resources for improvements in our student performance Dallas ISD. Rodriguez has indicated that has been my biggest reward. This honor is he might head for Dallas before the 2009just the icing on the cake.” 2010 school year is over; however, he has yet to announce the next stage of his proJENNIFER LECLAIRE is a freelance fessional career. writer.

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009


Who’s News Abilene ISD Three new administrators were in place for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. Stacy Evans is the principal of Bassetti Elementary School, after spending the previous school year as acting principal there. Prior to his time at Bassetti, he was an assistant principal at Bowie and Ward elementaries and Madison Stacy Evans Middle School. Now beginning his 29th year as an educator, Evans earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University. An educator with Abilene ISD for 12 years, Gustavo Villaneuva is now principal of Craig Middle School. He taught Spanish at Clack Middle School and Abilene High and served as an assistant principal of Madison Middle Gustavo School. He most recently Villaneuva was principal of College Heights Elementary School. Kathryn Walker, who has been with Abilene ISD for 15 years, is the new principal of College Heights Elementary. She was an English teacher at Cooper High School and a ninth grade volleyball and basketball coach. She had a threeKathryn Walker year absence from the district during which she was a writer and editor for Paradigm Alternatives Centers. She returned in 2000 as program director and lead teacher for Abilene High’s ninth grade initiative. From 2006 until 2009, Walker was the instructional coordinator at that campus. Anna ISD Beginning his 39th year as an educator is Superintendent Larry Johnson. His career began in Quinlan ISD, where he was first a teacher and coach and then an administrator. He was the district’s superintendent from 1998 until 2008. He then took Larry Johnson the top job in Commerce ISD, where he remained until moving to Anna ISD to serve as interim superintendent, a position he had held since March. Johnson

is a past president of the Texas Association of Community Schools. Arlington ISD Jina Hopp is the assistant principal at Corey Elementary School. She comes to her new role from Sam Houston High School, where she taught biology and TAKS exit-level science preparation since 1998. She has a bachelor’s degree from Jina Hopp Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington. Jacquelyn McClendon now serves as principal of Foster Elementary. She began her career in 1991 as a first grade teacher at Elliott Elementary in Fort Worth ISD, becoming the school’s counselor in 1996. She arrived in Arlington ISD in Jacquelyn 2000 as assistant princiMcClendon pal of Shackelford Junior High. she also served in that role at Pope Elementary and Carter Junior High. Her bachelor’s degree is from The University of Texas at Arlington and her master’s degree is from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Jennifer Solis-Anderson is the new assistant principal of Newcomer Center. She was a bilingual teacher and instructional specialist in Irving ISD for five years and has been a bilingual/ESL consultant at ESC Region 10 since 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Dallas at Irving and her master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University. Lisa Van Gemert comes to Martin High School as its assistant principal from Lamar High School, where she had taught English since 2003. She has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington. Lisa Van Gemert Buna ISD John Burt has taken the position of superintendent, moving into the role after serving as the district’s assistant superintendent. China Spring ISD Jason McCullough is the new superintendent. His career has included service as

a classroom teacher and coach, and as an assistant principal in Harts Bluff ISD. His most recent position was deputy superintendent of Mount Pleasant ISD. McCullough earned his bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His master’s degree in educational administration is from Texas A&M University at Commerce, and his doctorate in educational leadership is from Stephen F. Austin State University. Clint ISD (El Paso) James Littlejohn will serve as assistant superintendant for instructional services, moving to his new position from his role as executive director of instructional technology for Clint ISD. A 16-year education veteran, he has been a classJames Littlejohn room teacher, instructional technology specialist and CATE coordinator. In 2002, he was recognized as Teacher of the Year in Ysleta ISD. He came to Clint ISD in 2003. Josie Perez is the new assistant superintendent for administrative services. She comes to her new job from Horizon Middle School, where she served as principal. A member of the Clint ISD staff since 1996, she has been a teacher, counselor, Josie Perez assistant principal and associate principal. She was named Assistant Principal of the Year in 1999 by the Texas Association of School Support Personnel. Columbus ISD New Superintendent Robert O’Connor returns to Columbus, where he spent five years as principal of Columbus Elementary School, from a stint as superintendent of schools in Holcomb, Kan. Before coming to Columbus in Robert O’Connor 2003, he was a junior/senior high principal in Smith Center, Kan., where he also served as assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator. In Texas, he has taught and coached in Sealy, Palacios and Bellville ISDs. O’Connor earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from Prairie View See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

17


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HOW TO HANDLE EMPLOYEES AND THEIR LIFESTYLE CHOICES David Thompson - Education Law Professor - University of Texas, San Antonio

AVOIDING MISSTEPS IN EMPLOYEE RECRUITMENT & HIRING Elneita Hutchins-Taylor - General Counsel- Houston ISD, Houston

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS WEEK OF NOVEMBER 30 December 2 Get a Grip on the Family Medical Leave Act ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.tasb.org Cost: $165. December 2 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop Garland ISD Special Events Center, Garland For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. December 2-4 TAGT Professional Development Conference: Growing Their Gifts George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org December 2-5 TAHPERD Annual Convention Arlington Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Early bird registration: Professional and associate members, $85; retired and student members, $35. Preregistration: Professional and associate members, $105; retired and student members, $35. On-site registration: Professional and associate members, $125; retired and student members, $45. December 6-9 Texas Assessment Conference Hilton Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org

WEEK OF DECEMBER 7 December 8-9 Boot Camp for Curriculum Administrators

Bolin Elementary, Allen ISD For more info, (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org Cost: Texas ASCD members, $249; others, $295. December 9 Annual TASPA-Legal Digest Conference Doubletree Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Legal Digest subscribers and TASPA members’ early registration (by Nov. 27): $135, online credit card; $145, purchase order. Legal Digest subscribers and TASPA members regular registration (after Nov. 27): $170, online credit card; $180, purchase order. Nonsubscribers and nonmembers early registration (by Nov. 27): $185, online credit card; $195, purchase order. Nonsubscribers and nonmembers regular registration (after Nov. 27): $210, online credit card; $220, purchase order. December 9-11 Annual TASPA Winter Conference Doubletree Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353 or (800) 346-4111. www. taspa.org Cost: Conference only for members, $150; retired members, $75. Conference fee and renewal dues for members, $235; professional associate, $215; support staff associate, $195; retired, $90. December 11-12 TAMS/TARS Joint Annual Legislative Conference Hyatt Regency Hill Country, San Antonio For more info, (512) 346-2177. www.midsizeschools.org Cost: $100 for first district participant; $90 for all others. $35 late fee after Nov. 20.

WEEK OF DECEMBER 14 No events listed.

WEEK OF DECEMBER 28 No events listed.

WEEK OF JANUARY 4 No events listed.

WEEK OF JANUARY 11 January 11-12 Five Keys to Reading Success Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org Cost: Texas ASCD members, $299; others, $349. January 12-14 TCASE Great Ideas Conference Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org January 13 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 16, Amarillo For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. January 14 Other Duties As Assigned: Job Descriptions ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.tasb.org Cost: $165.

WEEK OF JANUARY 18 January 22 Texas Counseling Association CEU Workshop: Self-Healing Therapies Ysleta ISD central office, El Paso For more info, (512) 473-3403 or (800) 580-8144. www.txca.org

WEEK OF DECEMBER 21 No events listed.

See CALENDAR on page 21 November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

19


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Texas School Business • November/December 2009


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

CALENDAR continued from page 19

January 22-24 TAHPERD Annual Leadership Conference Inn of the Hills, Kerrville For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org January 24-26 Texas Education Partnership Conference: Community + Business + Education = Student Success: Unlocking the Partnership Puzzle Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 473-8377. www.tape.org Cost: Full conference, members, $175; full conference, nonmembers, $210; one-day conference, members, $100; one-day conference, nonmembers, $120. January 24-27 TASA Midwinter Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org

WEEK OF JANUARY 25 January 25 Annual TAMS Membership Breakfast Hilton Convention Center Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 346-2177. www.midsizeschools.org January 26-27 TASA Facilities Institute Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org January 27 Aspiring Superintendents Academy Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org January 28 Federal and State Compliance Issues ESC Region 18, Midland

For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. January 28 Staffing Controls for Public Schools TASB offices, Austin For more info, (800) 480-7782. www.tasb.org Cost: By Jan. 14, $180; after Jan. 14, $230. January 28-29 Five-Day Math Intensive Academy: Using Graphic Organizers and Assessment Tools to Make Mathematics More Accessible to Struggling Students (session 2 of 3) Galena Park ISD, Houston area For more info, (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org Cost: Texas ASCD members and Galena Park ISD staff, $750; nonmembers, $850. January 29-30 Texas School Health Association Annual Conference: Piecing Together Healthy Lives Hilton Airport Hotel, Austin For more info, (800) 410-8742. www.txschoolhealth.org January 31 Assistant Principal Workshop Doubletree Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 1 February 4 Winter Legal Seminar Indian’s Cliff Ranch, Fabens For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $150. February 4-5 Mentoring the Reflective Principal, Session 1 TASA offices, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org Cost: TASA members, $1,575;

nonmembers, $1,825. Teams: $1,450 per person, member rate; $1,700 per person, nonmember rate. February 5-6 Texas Classroom Teachers Annual Convention Renaissance Worthington Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (888) 879-8282. www.tcta.org

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 8 February 8 Fundamentals of Pay Systems TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $230. February 9 Controlling Complex Pay Systems TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $230. February 9 Winter Legal Seminar Holiday Inn Select, Tyler For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $150. February 10-13 Winter Governance and Legal Seminar Omni Bayfront Hotel, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org February 14-16 TCA Annual School Counselor Conference Galveston Island Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 472-3403 or (800) 580-8144. www.txca.org Cost: $100 until Feb. 14; on-site registration, $125.

See CALENDAR on page 22

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

21


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

CALENDAR continued from page 21

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 22

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 15

February 22-24 Texas School Public Relations Annual Conference Sheraton Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 474-9107 or (800) 880-9107. www.tspra.org

February 15-16 TAHPERD Annual Administrators’ Instructional and Motivational Conference Omni Southpark, Austin For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org February 15-18 Level II Curriculum Management Audit Training TASA office, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org Cost: TASA members, $595; nonmembers, $725. February 15-19 TASBO Annual Conference Convention Center, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org February 17-18 Connecting Content and Kids: Understanding by Design and Differentiated Instruction Location TBA For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org Cost: Texas ASCD members, $299; nonmembers, $349. February 18-19 Superintendent Secretary Training Conference TASB office, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $125. February 20 TESA Area Workshop University of Houston at Clear Lake area For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

22

February 24-25 First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 3 Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org Cost: Four sessions, $595; one session, $195. February 26-28 PTA Convention Omni Bayfront Tower, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 476-6769. www.txpta.org

WEEK OF MARCH 1 March 4-6 Texas Middle Schools Association Annual Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 462-1105. www.tmsanet.org March 6-8 ASCD Annual Conference Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.ascd.org

Counselors Ysleta ISD central office, El Paso For more info, (512) 472-3403 or (800) 580-8144. www.txca.org March 11-12 Mentoring the Reflective Principal, Session 2 TASA office, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org Cost: TASA members, $1,575; nonmembers, $1,825. Teams: $1,450 per person, member rate; $1,700 per person, nonmember rate.

WEEK OF MARCH 15 No events listed.

WEEK OF MARCH 22 March 22-24 50 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk, San Antonio For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org Cost: Members, $595; nonmembers, $725. March 24 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 1, Edinburg For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

March 6-10 Texas High School Athletic Directors Association State Conference Omni Hotel, San Antonio For more info, (210) 735-9331. www.thsada.com

March 27 TESA Area Workshop Pasadena area, location TBA For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

WEEK OF MARCH 8

March 31 TASB Spring Workshop Texas A&M University, Kingsville For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

March 10 Texas Counseling Association CEU Workshop: Taking Care of Business for LPCs and School

Texas School Business • November/December 2009

WEEK OF MARCH 29

TSB


2009 Caudill Award recognizes high school in Boerne ISD

B

oerne-Samuel V. Champion High School in Boerne ISD has earned the 2009 Caudill Award. The high school was designed by Pfluger Associates Architects in association with O’Neill Conrad Oppelt Architects Inc. Each year, the Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Society of Architects recognize excellence in new education facility construction and renovation projects in Texas. The Caudill Award, or best of show, is presented in honor of architect William Caudill and his distinctive and innovative achievements in the field of school architecture. This year, 99 Texas schools entered the competition — many of which were awarded certificates of excellence in individual categories. Awards of excellence highlight achievements in design, innovation, value, process of planning, sustainability and educational appropriateness. The Caudill Award and associated awards are determined by a six-member panel of judges, comprised of  two members from each association. “Receiving the Caudill Award is a testament to the extraordinary dedication of Boerne ISD and the entire community to the present and future development of Boerne students,” says Kent Niemann, Seventeenth Edition

on

Ninth Editi

Copyright © August 2009

Copyright

© July 2007

New & Completely Updated • Construction and Maintenance Planning Chart • Continuing Contract Chart • Educator’s Civil Liability Chart • Employee Leaves of Absence Chart • Probationary Contract Chart • Religion on Campus Chart • Sexual Harassment Chart • Special Education Time Line Chart • Student Discipline Chart • Term Contract Chart

AIA, Pfluger Associates Architects. “The administration, board of trustees and many community members who served on advisory committees throughout the planning process were consistently challenging the design team with new ideas about how this facility should serve the students and community.” Boerne ISD’s Boerne-Samuel V. Champion High School was designed by Pfluger One of the Associates Architects in association with O’Neill Conrad Oppel Architects Inc. most notable fea- (photos courtesy of Chris Cooper Photography) tures of the Champion High School design is its water-harhuge amount of cost,” says Dr. John Kelly, vesting system, which combines the capsuperintendent for Boerne ISD. turing of HVAC system condensate with Champion High School’s water-harroof and site runoff in an 800-foot-long vesting system is the largest of its kind for underground stormwater pipe. The total any school in Texas and will act as a teachsystem can hold more than 224,000 gallons ing tool, showing the importance of water of harvested water and has the potential conservation and harvesting in the droughtof saving the school district an estimated prone area of south Central Texas. The col$48,000 per year. Officials estimate that lection system also will be part of Chamthe project should pay for itself in less than pion High School’s outdoor classroom curfive years. riculum for the science department, giving “By using this system, we eliminate a students valuable hands-on training for environmental stewardship. TSB

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Special Recognitions Outstanding Primary School Jack C. Binion Elementary, Birdville ISD Superintendent: Steven Waddell Board president: Dolores Webb HKS Architects Inc. Outstanding Secondary School Frisco Career and Technical Education Center, Frisco ISD Superintendent: Rick Reedy Board president: Dan Mossakowski SHW Group LLP Outstanding Renovation Project Lake Travis High School, Lake Travis ISD Superintendent: Rockwell Kirk Board president: Susan Tolles Pfluger Wiginton Hooker

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

23


Weatherford ISD trustees claim title as 2009 Outstanding School Board

The Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees includes (back row): Dave Cowley, member; Kip Hooks, member; and Paul Paschall, secretary; (front row) Col. Kim Olson (retired), member; Dr. Deborah Cron, Weatherford ISD superintendent; Yale Young, president; Charlie Martinez, vice president; and Gail Wirtanen, member.

by Shelley Seale

T

he Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees was selected as the State’s Outstanding School Board for 2009 in the Texas Association of School Administrators’ School Board Awards Program. Five Texas school district boards were selected as finalists and were interviewed by TASA’s School Board Awards Committee at the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston in October. The School Board Awards competition was created in 1971 to recognize school boards that demonstrate outstanding service to the children of Texas. The criteria used to select the Honor Boards are:

24

The board’s policy-making procedures

Adherence to adopted board policies

Support for educational performance in accordance with state-established standards

Support for educational improvement projects

Commitment to a code of ethics

Provision of financial support for the school system

Participation in workshops and other performance improvement programs

Placement of the welfare of children

Texas School Business • November/December 2009

served by the school system above personal or political motives •

Public relations efforts, including community awareness, and evidence of harmonious and supportive relationships among board members.

This was the second win for the Weatherford ISD board; it was also selected as the state’s Outstanding School Board in 1994. Led by Superintendent Dr. Deborah Cron, Weatherford ISD trustees exemplify excellence with a strong focus on student achievement and an accompanying system of recognizing outstanding


academic performance. The board is also vested in partnerships with other public and private entities, instructional technology, financial support for facilities, and developing policies for effective board interaction and governance. Board members are President Yale Young, Vice President Charlie Martinez, Secretary Paul Paschall and members Dave Cowley, Kip Hooks, Col. Kim Olson (retired) and Gail Wirtanen. “Our board has always focused on a ‘What’s Best for the Kids’ approach,” says Cron. “I am so proud of our board of trustees, and I am happy that they are receiving state recognition for being able to work together to make decisions that are in the best interests of children. [We] continue to support academic programs that have resulted in improving TAKS scores, narrowing the achievement gaps and earning superior state accountability ratings.” Cron credits the board’s commitment to the children of the district, as well as each member’s individual ethics and teamwork, to its successful impact on the students and community of Weatherford.

“This board acts as a team, hashing out issues, airing their different viewpoints, but always coming together in reaching a decision. That decision is then supported by every board member.” Cron works closely with what the district refers to as the “Team of Eight”; she says every issue or decision begins with two questions: How will this impact the children of our district, and will it improve the education that the children are receiving? One important way that the Weatherford ISD board differs from others, according to Cron, is that it actively works to increase its effectiveness. “They are learning leaders, participating in elective training such as Reform Governance in Action, which is a 15-month program aimed at improving school districts through improved governance and management oversight. The board’s leadership has helped Weatherford ISD win back-to-back ‘recognized’ ratings from TEA,” she says, adding that the district is “gunning for ‘exemplary’!” The Weatherford ISD board uses hard data to drive its decisions. Every month,

staff provides the Leading Indicator Process, which gives data about key areas of the district. The board reviews the data as a means of keeping up with the district’s progress, so that there are no surprises during the year. Another successful Weatherford ISD board initiative is its “good news” communication system. The board regularly publishes business cards that promote three to five informative tidbits about the district — such as the academic and extracurricular achievements of students or accolades to staff members. Board members hand out these cards at meetings and events and use them as quick-reference tools for the messages they want to communicate to parents and the community. The “good news” cards are updated every three months. The board is also involved in Reform Governance in Action, and it has written nine board policies. These are aimed at specifically defining the board’s role of governance and management oversight, its focus on improving student achievement See School Board on page 26

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

25


School Board continued from page 25

and its involvement in constituent service, among other goals. Cron says that while the board clearly understands its role of governance and management oversight, it leaves the management of the district in the hands of the superintendent and staff. Board President Yale Young explains further. “We know the difference between oversight and micromanaging the school district,” he says. According to Young, Weatherford ISD trustees are special because each person hails from a different background and experience. “Yet, when we come to the boardroom, we are always focused on ‘what’s best for kids,’” he says.

The accomplishments that Young is most proud of are the back-to-back “recognized” school ratings from the TEA, and the board’s decision to renovate the district’s Kangaroo Stadium without bond money, which saved millions of dollars in interest payments for the taxpayers of Weatherford. “This facility had not experienced a face-lift in its 55-year existence,” says Cron. The board and administrative team began to save funds for the renovation about six years ago, wanting to bring it up to standard for safety and handicapped accessibility. “It’s taken a while, and, frankly, it couldn’t be done with today’s finance system, but the district actually saved enough dollars to fund the renovation without a bond election,” Cron says.

“We also kept the facility in downtown Weatherford, and our families and community are truly proud of this new look for Roo Stadium.” Every decision made by the Weatherford ISD board relates to the school district’s five goals to ensure the best education possible for Weatherford ISD’s children: focus on student success; focus on students, parents and communities; focus on operational excellence; focus on employees and organizational development; and focus on stewardship. Cron says, “We want the students of our district to be successful academically so that they will be able to succeed in the global community.” SHELLEY SEALE is a freelance writer in Austin.

Outstanding School Board finalists Region 4 — Lamar CISD (Superintendent Thomas E. Randle) — The Lamar CISD board exemplifies excellence through its systemic process of policy review, pervasive staff development, adherence to innovative programming and effective student enrollment growth management. The many honors this board has received, including the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award, attest to its quality. Members include President Sam Hopkins, Vice President Michael Richard, Secretary Jesse Torres, Jack Christiana, Richard McCarter, Karen Mendoza and Julie Thompson. Region 6 — Splendora ISD (Superintendent Thomas Price) — The Splendora ISD board exemplifies excellence as demonstrated by documented academic gains, stimulated by initiatives, such as a graduation plan that begins in fifth grade, and other strategies that are aimed at all learners. The board has also shown a commitment to community relations, strategic planning and comprehensive board training. Board members include President Dana Daniels, Vice President Otis Carter, Secretary Jesse Soto, Assistant Secretary Mike Vernon, Mattie McKee and Rex Fry.

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009

Region 13 — Seguin ISD (Superintendent Irene Garza) — The Seguin ISD board exemplifies excellence through support of steady, consistent academic gains created through the implementation of a wide variety of research-based programs. The board is also strong in its approach to policy development and in establishing a personalized code of ethics for the board. Board members include President Louis Q. Reyes III, Vice President Jeffrey Koehler, Secretary Ishmael Flores, Stan C. Ledbetter, Nancy Ayotte, Ernesto M. Leal and Irma Lewis.

Region 20 — Floresville ISD (Superintendent David Lowell Vinson) — The Floresville ISD board members exemplify excellence by modeling the type of behavior that they would want students to emulate. The board is also strong in areas of overall strategic planning, facility and resource support of the instructional program and strategic planning toward instructional goals. Board members include President Tom Ray, Vice President Ryan Bippert, Secretary Neysa Choate, Treasurer Rachel Peña, Larry Angle, John Raabe and Doug Shoemaker.


TASA executive director receives 2009 Key Communicator Award

F

or his influence in affecting positive change in Texas public education, Dr. Johnny Veselka, executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators, received the 2009 Key Communicator Award. Each year at the annual TASA/TASB convention, the Texas Public School Relations Association presents the award to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to public education through effective communications. Veselka’s peers in education couldn’t agree more with TSPRA’s selection for 2009. Dr. John M. Folks, Northside ISD superintendent, says: “Perhaps most important is Dr. Veselka’s ability to bring the state’s various education organizations together so that they can speak with one voice for public education. Considering the differing political agendas, this is an almost impossible task, but because Dr. Veselka is so highly respected and well-versed on school issues, he is able to reach a consensus.” Under Veselka’s leadership as executive director, TASA has become a major voice for school administrators on legislative issues and state policy matters, enhancing the leadership role of administrators in the state’s public schools. “Being selected as TSPRA’s Key Communicator for 2009 is especially gratifying, coming as it did on the heels of what might generously be described as a difficult legislative session,” Veselka said during his acceptance speech at the convention. “Knowing some of the outcomes of this recent session, the need to step up our efforts as we look ahead to 2011 is greater than ever. “Many times individuals outside the education community see us as divided — unable to overcome the differences of special interests long enough to gain consensus on anything,” he continued. “After 35 years of being associated with TASA, 23 of those as executive director, I believe that we as school leaders are more focused than ever.” Veselka told attendees at the general session that the work of public school officials is “a work in progress.” “Without engaging local communities, we will not achieve our goal of creating a new vision for public education in Texas,” he said. “We must continue to build coali-

tions like the Coalition to Invest in Texas Schools, coalitions with business leaders and others who support the need to continue to transform our schools to meet the needs of 21st century learners — the digital generation.” Since 1981, TSPRA has recognized a Key Communicator for outstanding contributions to public education 2009 Key Communicator Award winner Dr. Johnny Veselka gives his through effective acceptance speech as TSPRA President Julie Jerome looks on. communications. The recipient may be a legislator, educator or a professional who has contributed outstanding service to in another field who has improved school the profession of school communications. TSB communications, or a member of TSPRA

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 17

A&M University, and he is completing work on his doctorate from Walden University. Dallas County Schools Three assistant superintendent positions have been filled at Dallas County Schools, an intermediate educational agency serving Dallas County’s 14 independent school districts. Rex L. Cole was named assistant superintendent for transportation services.

He was an educator for 30 years, the past seven of which were spent as a middle school principal. He joined Dallas County Schools in 2004 as executive director for support/ special services. In 2007, Rex L. Cole his position became more focused on transportation, and Cole spent two years as assistant superintendent for support services.

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Texas School Business • November/December 2009

Francine Hudson is now assistant superintendent of planning and operations and chief operations officer, having spent the past five years as the assistant superintendent of business and the chief financial officer. Before coming to Francine Hudson Dallas County Schools in 2004, she was Texas Wesleyan University’s controller. Wesley Scott came to Dallas County Schools in August as the new assistant superintendent of business and chief financial officer. He has more than 14 years of experience as a CPA, working with cities and school district budgets of up to Wesley Scott $150 million. El Paso ISD Barron Elementary School nurse Christina Maxwell has been honored as Texas Co-Nurse of the Year by the Texas School Nurses Organization, sharing her award with Sherry Freeland of Richardson ISD. She began her career in Christina Maxwell 1998 at Andress High School in El Paso ISD; she served at Schuster Elementary before coming to Barron. This summer she was chosen to participate in Johnson & Johnson’s school health leadership program in New Jersey. Maxwell will be recognized for her accomplishments at TSNO’s annual conference in Dallas in November. Frenship ISD The new superintendent is David Vroonland, most recently assistant superintendent of Allen ISD. An educator for 23 years, his first assignment was as a teacher and coach in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, followed by simiDavid Vroonland lar service at DuVal High School in Lanham, Md. A three-year stint in Akishima, Japan, came next. When he returned to Texas it was to Wichita Falls, where he was an educator and coach from 1995 to 1999. Vroonland then began his administrative career, first as an assistant principal at Zundy Junior High and then as principal of Barwise Junior High. He opened the new


Who’s News Ereckson Middle School in Allen ISD and spent two years as principal at that campus before taking on the role of assistant superintendent in 2006. Vroonland, an Iowa native, has a bachelor’s degree from Centenary College in Shreveport, La., a master’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, and a doctorate from the University of North Texas. Frisco ISD Kent Jackson has been named athletic coordinator and head football coach for Heritage High School, a new campus currently serving ninth- and 10thgrade students with plans to advance to a four-year school in the 2011-2012 Kent Jackson academic year. A graduate of Lubbock Christian University with more than 20 years’ experience as a coach and educator, Jackson comes to Frisco after holding a similar position in Sweetwater ISD. Granbury ISD Judy Gentry is the director of career and technology education. She has taught career and technology courses at Granbury High School since 1997. Since 2007, she has served as chair of the school’s career and technology department. Judy Gentry She was named GHS Teacher of the Year in 2008-2009. Gentry earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma Christian University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University. Baccus Elementary School counselor Betty White has been named Multi-Level Counselor of the Year by the Texas School Counselor Association. She began her career as a high school science teacher in Winters ISD, later teachBetty White ing junior high and high school science in San Angelo and at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi ISD. She then became a counselor, serving in Merkel and Corpus Christi ISDs and in Roswell, N.M. Before coming to Granbury, she spent 15 years with the Erath County Education Cooperative, serving as a special education counselor, diagnostician, behavior specialist and transition coordinator.

Harlingen ISD Harlingen ISD has a new assistant superintendent for operations. He is Oscar Tapia, who began his career in 1982 as a construction supervisor in Brownsville ISD. He became the district’s facilitator in 1994, with duties that included planning, budgeting and the completion of $425 million in school construction. He has held construction positions with the city of Brownsville and Cameron County. Tapia has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s degree from The University of

Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. Houston ISD Terry Grier is the new superintendent. He comes to Houston from the San Diego (Calif.) Unified School District, where he also held the top position. Before leading San Diego schools, he was superintendent of Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., for eight years. While in that district, dropout rates were cut in half, high school See WHO’S NEWS on page 30

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 29

graduation rates increased to 80 percent, minority student enrollment in advanced placement classes tripled, and college scholarships available to high school seniors more than doubled. In San Diego, he opened Southern California’s first virtual high school and improved student performance on the California Standards Tests to an all-time high. He was named Superintendent of the Year by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School

Board Association. He also has received the American Association of School Administrators’ Jones Humanitarian award, the North Carolina Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Distinguished Educator award and the Congressional Black Caucus’ ET3 Tech Champion award. Grier earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Carolina University and his doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Julie McAvoy is the new District 11

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president-elect of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. She has been with the district for eight years and currently serves as principal of Lakewood Elementary School. An educator Julie McAvoy for 20 years, McAvoy was previously with Fort Worth ISD. Her bachelor’s degree is from Texas Christian University and her master’s degree is from The University of Texas at Arlington. Joshua ISD Kevin Sellers has been named superintendent of Joshua ISD. He currently holds the top position in Keene ISD, where he will remain until January. Kirbyville CISD Kirbyville CISD’s new superintendent is Richard Hazelwood. He served as the interim superintendent from March to June, when he accepted his new position. He began his career as a teacher and coach in Newton ISD, where he spent 13 years, including service as the district’s junior high school principal. He was an elementary principal in Burkeville, Spurger and Jasper ISDs before arriving in Kirbyville as assistant superintendent in 2006. Hazelwood earned his bachelor’s degree and superintendent certification from Lamar University in Beaumont, and his master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. LaPryor ISD The district’s new superintendent is Joe M. Ximenez. An educator for 10 years, he began his career as a teacher in Somerset ISD and spent the majority of his career in Kenedy ISD, where he served as a teacher, coach, special education coordiJoe M. Ximenez nator, principal and, most recently, chief academic officer. He also spent 14 years working with youth organizations. Ximenez has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at San Antonio. He earned his master of science degree in educational leadership from Walden University, where he is a doctoral candidate in administrative leadership for teaching and learning. Lubbock ISD Rafael “Ralph” Madrid is retiring after 45 years in education, 39 of them with


Who’s News Lubbock ISD. He is the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, a position he has held for the past 30 years. Madrid began his career in Ector County ISD, teaching physical education at Rafael “Ralph” Hayes Elementary School. Madrid He then transferred to Ector High School to teach physical science and biology and to coach tennis. Madrid came to Lubbock in 1971 as an earth and life science teacher at Mackenzie Middle School. A year later he accepted a recruiting position in the district’s personnel office. For the next 36 years, he served as a personnel recruiter, coordinator of the student teacher program, assistant director, director, executive director and ultimately assistant superintendent for human resources. Madrid’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned from Texas A&M University at Commerce (formerly East Texas State University). He did postgraduate work at Texas Tech University. He is a past president of the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators and was the organization’s Administrator of the Year in 1995 and 1997. Kathy Rollo has been named executive director of professional development. Until accepting her new position, she served since 1999 as principal of Murfee Elementary, a school she led to 10 TEA “exemplary” ratings. Rollo earned her Kathy Rollo bachelor’s degree in education, her master’s degree and her superintendent certification from Texas Tech University, where she is completing her doctorate in educational leadership. Marshall ISD The district’s new superintendent is Bruce Gearing, who comes to Marshall from Mount Pleasant ISD, where he served as a teacher and administrator since 2001. He began his career as an educator in 1995 when he taught physical science, math and computer studies at St. Matthew’s Catholic High School in Soweto, South Africa. Following that assignment, he was a teacher in London and Upminster, England. He returned to the United States in 1998, teaching math at Texas High School in Texarkana. In 2001, he accepted the position of principal of Sims Elementary School in Mount Pleasant ISD and then at Mount Pleasant Junior High,

where he remained until taking on the role of assistant superintendent for the district; he remained in that job until becoming the district’s superintendent in 2007. Gearing has a number of degrees: a bachelor Bruce Gearing of science in mathematics and chemistry; a bachelor of science in mathematics education; a higher diploma in education, mathematics/physical science from

the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa; a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Texarkana; and a doctorate in educational administration from the same institution. McKinney ISD Superintendent Tom Crowe has announced his upcoming retirement. An eduSee WHO’S NEWS on page 32

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 31

cator for 38 years, he has been with McKinney ISD since 2004. After spending the first nine years of his career in Indiana, where he taught math and served as a coach, Crowe has been a math teacher, Tom Crowe assistant principal and associate principal in Spring ISD, a principal

in Texas City ISD, deputy superintendent of Katy ISD and superintendent of Willis ISD. Prairiland ISD James Morton, superintendent since 2000, will retire from his position with Prairiland ISD at the end of November. He began his career as a teacher and coach, first in North Hopkins ISD and then at West Lamar and Delmar ISDs. He took on his first administrative role when he was named K-12 principal in West Lamar, where he also con-

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tinued to coach. He subsequently served as an elementary and junior high principal in Chisum ISD, followed by service as secondary principal and coach in Sulphur Bluff ISD. He was Sulphur Bluff’s superintendent from 1994 until 2000, when he took the lead role at Prairiland. Morton has an associate’s degree from Paris Junior College; his bachelor of science and master of education degrees are from Texas A&M University at Commerce (formerly East Texas State University). Richardson ISD Sherry Freeland has been named Texas Co-Nurse of the Year by the Texas School Nurses Organization, sharing the award with Christina Maxwell of El Paso ISD. Roosevelt ISD Jimmy Parker has been appointed superintendent. He was initially an agriculture science teacher in Clyde ISD, advancing to serve as assistant principal and high school principal in that district. He was then high school principal in Tahoka ISD, and subsequently served as superintendent there for 10 years. Parker earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture science from Tarleton State University. Round Rock ISD Amy Jacobs is the new principal of Forest North Elementary School. She comes to Round Rock from San Antonio, where she most recently served as assistant principal of Northern Hills Elementary in that city’s North East ISD. She Amy Jacobs helped to lead the school from a TEA “acceptable” rating to “exemplary.” Other administrative positions Jacobs has held include summer school principal and professional development specialist. Her bachelor of arts degree in humanities is from Trinity University in San Antonio. She holds two master’s degrees, in teaching and school administration, both also from Trinity. San Marcos CISD Melanie Allien is the new assistant principal of Miller Middle School. Prior to arriving in San Marcos, Allien taught science in Austin ISD and Hays CISD. She then was academic dean and assistant principal for the SSI summer academy Melanie Allien and recovery center in


Who’s News San Antonio’s North East ISD. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in Kansas and her master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The new assistant director of San Marcos CISD’s business office is Ulla Durham. She worked as a business manager in her native Germany before relocating to Texas, where she was a high school secretary in Ropesville ISD. She then Ulla Durham was business manager and PEIMS coordinator for Smyer ISD. She most recently held the same positions in Loop ISD, where she subsequently served as a school business consultant. Texas Association of Rural Schools Six Texas superintendents have been named officers for TARS. They are: president, Shirley Coleman, San Vicente ISD; president-elect, Gene Sheets, Muleshoe ISD; first vice president, Greg Gilbert, Santo ISD; second vice president, Paul Vranish, Tornillo ISD; secretary, Phil Worsham, Joaquin ISD; treasurer, Jim Rumage, Banquete ISD.

Waco ISD Nina LeBlanc is the principal of Tennyson Middle School, a newly reconfigured seventh and eighth grade campus that will eventually be an international baccalaureate candidate school. A graduate of Waco High School, she has been an Nina LeBlanc educator for 15 years, nine of those with Waco ISD. She was an assis-

Ysleta ISD Four administrators have been appointed to support a reorganization of the district’s 61 See WHO’S NEWS on page 35

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Tomball ISD Joseph Ferguson is the new assistant principal of Willow Wood Junior High. A graduate of Tomball High School, he served in the U.S. Army before beginning his education career in 2005 as a Texas history teacher in Spring ISD. Joseph Ferguson He also has taught fourth grade and was a campus test coordinator. He earned a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M University and a master of education degree from Sam Houston State University. Victoria ISD A new bilingual/ESL learning facilitator has been named for the district. She is Martha Zuniga, most recently the parent liaison at Gross Montessori Magnet School. A member of the Victoria ISD staff since 1992, she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Houston at Victoria; her doctorate in educational administration is from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi.

tant principal in Hillsboro ISD and the curriculum specialist at Waco High before her most recent assignment as assistant principal of Brazos Middle School. LeBlanc is completing work on her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.

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ack E. Singley, former superintendent of Irving ISD for 21 years, died at his home Oct. 11. Singley had announced his resignation and retirement from his superintendency in March of this year, bringing to a close a 44-year career in public education — all within Irving ISD. “Not having him around is unbelievable, almost,” says Dr. Neil Dugger, who stepped up as interim superintendent of schools following Singley’s retirement. “He would often say, ‘I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I can work harder than any other person.’ My response was that he probably was the smartest person in the room, no matter where he was.” Singley joined Irving ISD in 1965 as a math teacher at MacArthur High School. From 1965 to 1988, he served as a teacher, principal, personnel director and assistant superintendent for administration. He was appointed to superintendent of schools in October 1988 and was one of the longestserving school superintendents in Texas. Approximately 30,000 students graduated from Irving ISD high schools during Singley’s tenure. He was named the 2002-2003 Region 10 Superintendent of the Year. Singley’s wife, Carolyn, retired from her position as an English teacher at MacArthur in June 2004, and their two children are graduates of Irving High School. Their daughter, Ryn, is a graduate of UCLA and lives in Oakland, Calif. The Singleys’ son, Brandt, is a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington and The University of Texas at Austin and is employed in Lewisville ISD as a middle school teacher.

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 33

Math Facts Matter

campuses. The schools have been divided into three areas, each area to be supervised by an associate superintendent. Associate Superintendent Anna Perez will have charge of Area 1, which includes the Del Valle, Riverside and Ysleta high schools area. She began her career in Fort Worth ISD, serving 21 years in that district as an instructional aide, teacher, team and project leader, project coordinator, elementary principal and assistant director of elementary schools. In New MexiA district in Texas recently said this co, she was superintendent of Carlsbad Municipal program was better than all their other Schools and assistant superintendent, deputy superAnna Perez intendent and ultimately superintendent of the Coprograms combined! bre Consolidated Schools in Bayard. She came to El Paso and Ysleta ISD in 2003, where she has been associate superintendent of operations until her new appointment. Perez holds bachelor’s and master’s Call 800.580.2479 to find out why degrees from Texas Christian University and a doctorate in administration and supervision from the University of New Mexico. Area 2, which is comprised of the Bel Air and Eastwood high OR schools area, will be led by Associate Superintendent Rick Bentley, who most recently was associate superintendent of academics for Ysleta ISD. Call 800.580.2479 to find out which He earned an associate of arts degree from the Unidistrict it was versity of Maryland in Munich, Germany. He then attended The University of Texas, where he gained a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama education. His master’s degree in educational administration is Rick Bentley from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), and his doctorate in educational administration is from The University of Texas. Guiding Area 3, which includes the Hanks and Parkland high schools area, as well as the district’s nontraditional campuses, is Tom Miller, formerly chief of staff. He has worked in El Paso and New Mexico as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, college professor, instructional specialist and executive director Tom Miller of academics. He also has been a popular presenter to numerous state and national conferences on the successes of the Ysleta district. Pauline Dow has been named chief academic officer. Formerly an associate superintendent in Canutillo ISD, she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as a doctorate in educational leadership, from The Star-Base School Suite ™, a comprehensive University of Texas at El Paso. student information system, empowers you to control, Dow has served on the professionmanage, and support real-time information. al boards of the Texas Association The Century Star_Base School Suite™ enables parents to stay involved in their child’s education from the Pauline Dow 150 Airport Road ✦ Suite 1500 for Bilingual Education, National comfort of their home or office, and retrieve the information they need exactly when they need it. Parents Lakewood, NJ 08701 can view grades, homework, attendance, textbook content, lunch menus, and more. This real-time access Association for Bilingual Education, National Netto student information bridges the parent-teacher gap and opens the lines for better communication. 732.363.9300 ✦ 800.852.2566 work for Educational Renewal, Girls Scouts of the Century’s web-based student information system saves time and money, allowing teachers to focus on the www.centuryltd.com USA, Community Scholars Inc. and the Kellogg Feldevelopment of each student, while improving interaction between parents, teachers and administrators. 100% PEIMS Compliant lows Leadership Alliance. She served on the PresiPET and TREx State Learn how Star_Base School Suite™ can meet your district's needs dent’s Advisory Committee on Women from 1985 to Requirements Included by contacting us at 800.852.2566 or marketing@centuryltd.com. 1987 and was a member of the K-16 Collaboration Committee at UT-El Paso in 2006. She is a founding member of the Institute for Language and Education Policy. TSB

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49th annual TASA/TASB draws more than 6,000 public school officials to Houston

Paul McLarty, Greg Smith, Ann Hammond, Dee Scott and Scott Ebell, all of Clear Creek ISD.

Helen Warwick, Janie Hill, Bruce Gearing, Tiffany Ammerman and Mrs. Charles Wilson, all of Marshall ISD. Timothy Chargois, Woodrow Reece and David Harris, all of Beaumont ISD.

James Ponce of McAllen ISD, Steve Flores of Harlingen CISD, Toni Garcia of Round Rock ISD and Juan F. Aguilera of Escamilla & Poneck law firm, who is also a former Round Rock ISD board member.

Tosha Felder, Victoria Dunn and Gideon Obadan of the Girls & Boys Preparatory Academy in Houston. 36

Rolinda Schmidt and Katherine Sutherlin of Kerrville ISD.

Texas School Business • November/December 2009

Harry Ryan and George Kazanas of Wichita Falls ISD and Bo Ledoux of Claycomb Associates.

Craig Gipson and Jim Whitton of Brackett & Ellis law firm.


Jesse Soto of Splendora ISD (center) with Alan Moreau and Jimmy Verron of New Caney ISD.

Felecia Joiner, Ashley Oleszewski, Shea Hernandez, Daryl Wendel and Eric Carreon, all of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Sharon Milham, Vicki Bridges and Gail Ownby of Grand Prairie ISD.

Kim Stevenson of Denton ISD and Kay Waggoner of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

Les Simpson of Manor ISD, Laura Strube of Ballinger ISD and Heather Lamb of SMART Technologies.

Sophia Williams and Ty McDonald of Bastrop ISD with Samella Williams of Smithville ISD.

Judy Jones and Pamela Kilgore of BrucevilleEddy ISD.

Tara Huffman of VLK Architects, Scott Milder of Friends of Texas Public Schools and Sharon Cox of Denton ISD.

Bob Thompson of Lamar University and Jeff Turner of Coppell ISD. Linda Rountree and David Baldner of ESC Region 17. Leesa Vardeman of VLK Architects and Rod Reeves of Denton ISD. Roy Nieto, Ernesto Ayala and Michael Caudill, representatives for SureScore.

November/December 2009 • Texas School Business

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THE BACK PAGE Advertisers Index

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The day I got the easy word in the spelling bee

A

s the annual spelling bee came to a close in Mr. Lowe’s sixth grade classroom, I was suddenly aware that there were only two of us left in the competition. It was either going to be me or Fielding Early, who just happened to be the smartest kid I had ever met. And at that very moment, I panicked. Thoughts raced through my mind faster than a locomotive. What? Me and Fielding Early? I don’t have a prayer! “Cloud,” the pronouncer said as he turned in my direction. “Your word is cloud.” “Cloud?” I repeated. “That’s correct. Cloud.” This is too easy! Cloud? You’ve got to be kidding! “Can you give me the definition?” I heard myself saying. A few snickers were heard at the back of the room. The pronouncer glanced toward the snickering bunch as he calmly said, “A visible body of very fine water droplets or ice particles suspended in the atmosphere at altitudes ranging up to several miles.” I heard him right then. Too easy! “C…L…U…O…D!” I announced with all the authority in the world. Ding! What? There must be some mistake! Didn’t they hear me right? The word went to Fielding Early. “Cloud,” he repeated. “I won’t be needing a definition.” Snickers from most of the students. “It’s C…L…O…U…D.” “Mr. Early, you are our champion. Congratulations!” To this day, I cringe every time I hear that word. Would you like to know the word most commonly misspelled by high school students? It’s their, followed by too and receive. There is the fourth most commonly misspelled word. And how many times have we spelled 38

“all right” as “alright”? Then there are those times when the word is spelled correctly, but you think it’s incorrect. For example, I was a young radio announcer still in high school when the secretary brought me an item to read on the air. Into the microphone I stammered: “I’ve been asked to announce that someone has lost a little, brown … uh … uh … chiwho-a-who-a. If you know the whereabouts of this little creature, call 555-1234.” When I concluded with the announcement, the secretary stepped back into the control room and politely said, “Riney, what did you just call that lost animal?” “A ‘chi-who-a-who-a.’ Is that some sort of little monkey or something from South America?” “It’s chihuahua. And it’s a little dog.” To which I replied, “Well, you should have spelled it correctly with some ‘Ws’ in there.” I discovered my favorite misspelling only a few days ago while driving in the little town of Hamilton where we live. As I came to a stop sign, I noticed that someone had written a message on it with what appeared to be white shoe polish. It read: “Your a lozer.” What I would have given to catch the individual who wrote that. I’d let him know that if he is going to be a representative of the kind of education our public schools are providing, the least he could do is learn the difference between your and you’re and spell his graffiti correctly! Whether or not the person who wrote the graffiti is a loser remains a mystery, but I am sure he is not a “lozer.” And that is “alright” with me! RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book, “All the Difference,” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@htcomp.net or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

Texas School Business • November/December 2009

AIM...................................................................16 www.AIM-Companies.com Armko Industries Inc........................................34 www.armko.com Century Consultants..........................................35 www.centuryltd.com Charter Builders..................................................8 www.charterbuilders.com Claycomb Associates, Architects........................9 www.claycomb.net Combs Consulting.............................................33 www.Combs-Group.com Corgan Schools...................................................6 www.corganschools.com Edvance Research.......................................32, 33 http://edlabs.ed.gov/RELSouthwest ESC Region 4..............................................30, 31 www.theansweris4.net ESC Region 4 - CCAP......................................39 www.CCAP4Schools.net ESC Region 20....................................................6 www.esc20.net/products ESC Region 20 – TCC......................................29 www.esc20.net/TCC HCDE-Choice Facility Partners..........................5 www.choicefacilitypartners.com HKS Inc............................................................16 www.hksinc.com LaMarr, Womack & Associates LP.....................7 www.lwarchitects.com My Satori............................................................9 www.mysatori.com Park Place Publications LP.........................20, 40 www.parkplacepubs.com PBK Architects....................................................2 www.pbk.com Peims Data +.....................................................34 www.peimsdataplus.com Perkins+Will.....................................................32 www.perkinswill.com Riney Jordan.....................................................34 www.rineyjordan.com Schoolware Inc..................................................35 www.myschoolware.com Skyward Inc......................................................15 www.skyward.com Spectrum Corporation.........................................5 www.spectrumscoreboards.com Sungard Public Sector.......................................28 www.sungardps.com TASA...................................................................8 www.tasanet.org TASB.................................................................10 www.tasb.org TEPSA..............................................................14 www.tepsa.org Texas Class..........................................................4 www.texasclass.com Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest.......................................14, 18, 23 www.legaldigest.com The College Board............................................10 www.collegeboard.org VLK Architects, Inc..........................................25 www.vlkarchitects.com WRA Architects Inc..........................................27 www.wraarchitects.com


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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 55 YEARS

October 2009

Closing the Achievement Gap

In the Spotlight Ken Davis Lamar CISD

TASA President John Folks Northside ISD

The Independent Voice for Public Education for 56 Years www.texasschoolbusiness.com

TEXAS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS’ Publisher: Park Place Publications, L.P. Managing Editor: Jim Walsh Editor: Jennifer Childress Chief Operating Officer: Ted Siff www.legaldigest.com

LEGAL DIGEST Volume 25, Number 9

TM

October 2009

A Look inside . . . This month we report eleven court cases, including three from the Fifth Circuit, along with six special education hearing officer decisions. Here are the highlights. Labor and employment

Dardeau v. West Orange-Cove ISD (page 8) is a Whistleblower case filed by a principal who was reassigned to an assistant principal position at another campus. The school district prevailed in the suit, largely due to strong documentation of the non-retaliatory reasons for the move. Fort Worth ISD v. Ricks addresses what is a “compensable injury” for workers’ compensation purposes. Is a teacher entitled to compensation for any injury that occurs at school, or does it have to be directly caused by the act of teaching? See what the Court of Appeals had to say on page 9. A school district’s absence control policy was challenged in Larsen v. Santa Fe ISD (page 9). The Court of Appeals concluded that the enforcement of the policy was not an act of retaliation for the workers’ compensation claim filed by the employee. Liability

Because of sovereign immunity and the immunities enjoyed by school employees, suits over student injuries in Texas are often based on federal and/or constitutional law. We report on such a case that arose after the drowning death of a student on a school field trip in Lee v. Trevino (page 10). The Court of Appeals held that the tragic incident did not amount to a violation of the constitutional rights of the student. Practice and Procedure

Aguilar v. Socorro ISD (page 12) involves the requirement that grieving employees exhaust administrative remedies. The court held that merely filing a grievance is not adequate— the employee also must cooperate so that the process can work effectively. Also . . .

• When the Commissioner Talks, We Listen: A Review of this Year’s Commissioner of Education Decisions (Jennifer Childress)

special education

The 5 Circuit decision in Richardson ISD v. Michael Z. (page 12) establishes a new standard for determining when a residential placement is educationally necessary. This long running dispute is still not over as the federal district court will now have to apply the test the 5 Circuit has created.

We also report on two cases involving the duty to serve students in the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment). Student v. Van Alstyne ISD (page 12) goes in favor of the parent on the theory that the less restrictive environment was adequate, thus there was no need to go to a more restrictive placement. Student v. El Campo ISD (page 15) goes the other way.

We think nurses and others who deal with student’s nutritional needs will find Student v. Northeast ISD (page 17) informative with regard to the needs of students who are fed in unorthodox ways. student issues

The Dawg’s Award for the Most Interesting Case of the Month goes to Palmer v. Waxahachie ISD (page 20), a 5 Circuit decision that strongly supports school authority in the ongoing T-Shirt Wars. If you want to learn how to adopt a dress code that is “content neutral” and thus satisfactory under the First Amendment this case is must reading. And More!

In our lead article TSALD Editor Jennifer Childress provides us an excellent summary of the most important decisions from the Commissioner’s office, and the Dawg responds to a flurry of questions about Hector P. Garcia Day and other official observances. Enjoy.

• Law Dawg (Jim Walsh) • Legal Developments • LD-TEPSA Conference on Education Law Registration Form • LD-TASPA Conference on Personnel Law Registration Form

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