SAN ANTONIO – It was the adults who made the errors, not the kids. That was the response Thursday from Southside Independent School District Superintendent Mark Eads, who took the job in May knowing the Texas Education Agency had launched a special investigation into SISD.
The report accused board members of abusing their authority by trying to intimidate a teacher and influence the district to give a board member's wife a raise.
It also details the case of another board member who missed meetings for three months, yet attended a conference in Boston that cost SISD more than $3,000.
The report did not name the accused board members, and Eads would not divulge the names either.
When asked about the accusations against board members, Eads repeatedly said he was not on the job at the time those allegations were made.
"All I can do is take forward from May 9. Since May 9, we have not had any issues regarding that," he said.
The report said one board member tried to circumvent the security check-in process when visiting an SISD campus.
Eads said all board members now notify him prior to interacting with any district staff members or visiting any schools.
Mismanagement of funds was another problem cited by the TEA investigation report, which points to an improvement project for the SISD football stadium.
According to the report, the district paid $95,700 for the project, which was originally estimated to cost $35,000.
And the district could not provide documentation to prove the board of trustees agreed to a contract or ever sought proposals or bids from other contractors.
"I don't know the specifics because, again, I wasn't there at the time," Eads said. "Originally, the board had approved for the $35,000. And through the course of a few weeks, it expanded to include more area and it was approved without going through the board's formal adoption process."
Eads said changes have been made to increase oversight of district spending.
"We now have a deputy superintendent of operations and finance. He came on board in July," Eads said. "Also, we have a purchasing agent in place now that we did not have for a year as well."
The state could bolster district oversight as well. The investigation report recommended a conservator and board of managers be appointed, effectively dissolving the current board.
The district's accreditation status could also be lowered, which Eads adds was not due to poor academic performance but district money that was not managed properly.
The district is moving in the right direction, according to Eads, who points to the lack of consistent leadership within Southside ISD over the last six years.
"We will make it work regardless," he said.