PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

June 30, 2014

DA sends new letter to BISD, trustees

PORT ARTHUR — CORY J. H. CRENSHAW

PAT KNAUTH CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY KATHLEEN M. KENNEDY

First Assistant Jefferson County Courthouse Chief Civil Division

1085 Pearl Street-3rd Floor

Beaumont, Texas 77701 -3545

(409) 835-8550

FAX: (409) 835-8573

June 30,2014

Dr. Timothy B. Chargois, Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Shirley Bonton, Deputy Superintendent 1 Chief of Schools

Dr. Dwaine Augustine, Chief Academic Officer

Philip Brooks, Chief of Operations

Sybil Comeaux, Executive Director of Human Resources

Melody Chappell, School Attorney

Tanner Hunt, Jr., School Attorney

Gwen Ambres, Board President

Janice Brassard, Board Vice President

Terry Williams, Board Secretary

Zenobia Bush, Board Member

Mike Neil, Board Member

Tom B. Neild, Board Member

Woodrow Reece, Board Member

Fred Shafer, TEA Representative and Conservator

Beaumont Independent School District

3395 Harrison

Beaumont, Texas 77706

Via facsimile (409) 61 7-51 84

RE: POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS OF TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE AND

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE

Members of the Board:

The District Attorney's Office has reviewed the posted agenda for the board meeting set

for today, Monday, June 30, 2014. A cursory review of this agenda raises a litany of

potential violations of state law.

This office is aware that the adopted budget for the current fiscal year allows for legal

services expenditures of $1 .I49 million. To date, BISD has spent in excess of $1.465

million in legal services. The agenda indicates that the board plans to take action and

vote to consider additional expenditures for legal services and a separation agreement

with the superintendent.

Be advised that the Texas Education Code prohibits a member of the board of trustees

from voting on expenditures that are in excess of the adopted budget.

"A trustee of a school district who votes to approve any expenditure of

school funds in excess of the item or items appropriated in the adopted

budget or a supplementary or amended budged commits an offense."

TEX. EDUCATION CODE, See. 44.052(~).

Accordingly, any board member who votes in favor of expenditures for legal services

(as contemplated in Item "D"), or funding of a voluntary separation agreement (as

contemplated in Item "K") will be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution. Section

44.052(c) is applicable to any action(s) taken, whether occurring in closed or open

session, effectively binding the district to expenditures regarding immediate or future

payment(s) .

The posted agenda is somewhat confusing about the intentions of the School Board

regarding executive verses public session considerations. Any matters addressed in

executive session regarding Item "K" as they may relate to binding the district to

funding must be further considered publicly in open session and remains subject to the

prohibition found in Sec. 44.052(c). The Texas Government Code requires that a

minimum of 72 hour notice must be given for posted agenda items, including those to be moved from executive to public session. Failure to comply with the proper notice as set forth in the statutes would subject the actions taken to civil remedies including voiding any action taken on said agenda items. TEX. GOV. CODE, Sec. 55 1.141.

We continue to believe it is in the best interests of this community for the School Board

to be in compliance with the laws of the State of Texas, including the aforementioned

Texas Government Code and Texas Education Code. We reserve the right to further

investigate this matter, and to bring appropriate action as necessary to insure all actions

taken are in compliance with the laws of this State.

Sincerely,

-

Cory J. H. Crenshaw

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