Ambroise should take leave from PAISD board

Published 9:24 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When Debra Ambroise was a candidate running for a seat on the Port Arthur Independent School District board of trustees she said she would make the district her top priority. Now, in the wake of allegations that she falsified her time slip in her job as a planner in the transportation department, allegations that led to her arrest and termination as a city employee, we hope Ambroise will make good on her pledge to make the district her top priority by stepping down from her seat on the board or taking a leave of absence, at least until she is able to refute the allegations in court.

Under our system of justice, anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. That’s how it should be with Ms. Ambroise. It’s not because we think she is guilty that we encourage Ms. Ambroise to remove herself from the board, it’s to protect the board from even the appearance that taxpayer dollars may not be held sacrosanct.

The board and top administration at the district have worked hard and successfully to rebuild the public’s trust in the district since those days not so long ago when state monitors were sent to oversee board operations. The debacle at the Beaumont school district in which the entire board was dissolved and replaced with a board of managers and a number of top administrators were charged with a convicted of crimes involving taxpayer dollars is also fresh in the memory of local taxpayers. That why maintaining the public’s rebuilt confidence in the PAISD board is more important than any individual board member.

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There is no mechanism under state law to remove a trustee from the board because the trustee has been accused of a crime. Removing a school board member even after a conviction could be difficult if the crime did not relate to official duties as a trustee. That’s why it’s up to Ms. Ambroise to act in the best interest of the PAISD even if that means giving up the seat she worked so hard to win, at least until the charges against here are cleared up. That will show she meant it when she said the district would be her top priority.