State recommends conservator, disbanding board at troubled Southside ISD

District releases results of TEA investigation

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Education Agency has recommended appointing a conservator and a board of managers at the Southside Independent School District, according to the results of an investigation obtained by The Defenders Wednesday.

The district's accreditation status will also be lowered as a result of the three-month investigation, a district spokesperson confirmed in a written statement.

The special accreditation investigation was launched late last spring, after the state received a complaint regarding a possible "systemic breakdown" of the board's ability to govern and manage the district.

The TEA's subsequent investigation found the district failed to comply with state laws regarding contracts.

In one instance, a contractor made close to $100,000 in improvements to the district's football stadium without the district soliciting other bids for the project, according to the nine-page report.

The report also outlined repeated incidents of trustees "acting on their own behalf" for their own personal benefit.

Investigators determined in 2014 a trustee intimidated a teacher who refused to release information about his son's grades. The trustee asked the teacher "do you know who I am?", according to the report.

The same trustee is accused of asking the district's human resources director via text message about the hiring status of certain employees, and requesting the director "place a hold" on the possible promotion of an interim principal.

In a third incident, the same trustee contacted the HR director and asked for the salary information of his common-law wife.

A second trustee is accused of disrupting the day-to-day operations of the district by refusing to sign-in at a campus and was later heard telling staff members "I don't need an escort, I'm a board member. I don't need a badge I can go anywhere I want". 

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath will ultimately decide whether to accept the recommendations of the investigation, a TEA spokesperson confirmed Wednesday, but pointed out there is no timeline for Morath to make a final decision.

A Southside spokesperson said via written statement that many of the issues outlined in the report have been "addressed, audited and revamped".