KEMP–Following a preliminary investigation conducted by Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Kemp Independent School District (KISD) Board of Trustees held a special board meeting via Zoom Dec. 19 to interview and discuss Superintendent applicants for the district. While those matters were to be discussed in closed session, the meeting began with public comments calling for the board of trustees to resign from their positions based on the content of the TEA report.
The preliminary TEA report consisted of accusations of racism, conflicts of interest, governance violations, contract procurement violations and destruction of public information by KISD’s governing board of trustees. According to KISD Attorney, Steven Dubner the district has until Jan. 22 to respond.
Kemp Mayor Laura Peace was the first to address the KISD board urging Board President Charissa Roberts to resign her position so the district could begin to restore the loss of trust in the district. “Do not drag students, teachers or taxpayers through one more minute of this toxic stew. Be a leader and resign,” Peace stated.
Vidal Jones spoke next, stating that after reading the TEA report he concluded that several board members didn’t understand what their job as a school trustee is. “You appear to regularly overstep your authority and try to manage various aspects of the districts operations and that is not your function. You are not managers, you are trustees. You’re supposed to set policy, you’re supposed to provide oversite for the training of qualified manager that you hire to run and manage the district operations,” Jones said. Jones provided the board with the benefit of the doubt regarding the path the board took on the weight room project, opting to believe that the board wanted to save money. “It was a noble intent to say the least, but intent does not excuse the wrong,” Jones continued.
City Council member Christi Neal also spoke during the meeting stating this was a disgrace, but that she was glad that it all came out. Neal addressed the board, “When you took your oath to serve this community part of the expectation was that you would communicate with honesty, integrity and transparency. What has occurred over the last five years has been quite the opposite,” Neal stated. Neal was adamant that taxpayer dollars should not be spent on the district’s attorney to review the preliminary report, nor should they spent to defend the district’s criminal actions or allegations of racism. “How can you expect the children, teachers and staff to follow state laws and guidelines to have integrity and honesty when you yourselves cannot seem to do that? It is in the best interest of this district that those on this board that have broken the law resign immediately,” Neal said.
Three more speakers followed suit to the previous comments even going as far as saying, “I think they looked at my notes.” Former Kemp High School Valedictorian Nick Vilbas, who joined the meeting from St. Paul, Minn. stated that he always says he is from Kemp not Dallas, but Kemp. Vilbas says that he is now embarrassed to be a Kemp Yellowjacket under these current conditions.
The meeting went into closed session at 2:34 p.m. where the host ended the Zoom meeting to the public. A decision has not been announced during the course of the district’s winter break of the board’s decision regarding a superintendent candidate or whether members of the board intend to remain in position or resign.The Monitor has reached out to KISD board members for comment but received no response.
The next regular KISD board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 11.