NEISD board slides further into turmoil, again fails to fill vacant trustee spot

Trustees undecided if District 2 seat will be placed on May 2024 ballot

NEISD's board interviews a candidate for Single Member District 2 on Oct. 23. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – For the second time in less than a week, the fractured board of trustees for the North East Independent School District failed to fill its vacant District 2 seat.

Trustees lashed out at one another and acknowledged how divided the group has become as five separate motions to appoint a trustee or place the spot on the ballot next year were unsuccessful.

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The board, which has been attempting to fill its Single Member District 2 seat since Trustee Terri Williams passed away in early August, previously missed a deadline to put the seat on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Three trustees: Marsha Landry, Steve Hilliard and Diane Villarreal, have openly supported the appointment of Jacqueline Klein, who finished second to Williams in the May 2022 election.

Other trustees, however, have raised questions about Klein’s political affiliations and expressed concern that she would further divide the board.

Trustees Villarreal and Sandy Hughey provided several tense moments Friday, as they argued over Hughey’s line of questioning to Klein during candidate interviews Monday night.

Hughey at one point asked whether the meeting was to show support for someone to fill the vacancy in District 2 or being held as a personal attack against a fellow trustee.

Villarreal cut in and questioned whether Hughey was fit to vote on filling the vacancy.

Following a motion to appoint Klein, the board delivered a 3-3 vote and the motion failed.

A candidate must receive at least four votes for the vacancy to be filled.

After the board moved into executive session for about 30 minutes, it emerged and candidate Nan Richie was nominated.

The board was again split and voted 3-3.

Candidate Tracie Shelton was then nominated, but again the board delivered a split 3-3 vote.

Klein was then nominated for a second time and the board again voted 3-3.

A trustee then suggested taking a vote on an applicant who was not among the four finalists, but the idea was quickly shot down.

“It appears that we are at an impasse,” said board president Shannon Grona, who acknowledged that she did not know the next steps the board could take.

After Villarreal and Landry said they wanted the voters to decide the winner, the board then voted 4-2 against the motion, with Hilliard breaking from the other two trustees backing Klein.

The board is next scheduled to meet on Nov. 13. Trustees have asked the district’s legal counsel to clarify whether they would be in compliance with state law by pushing the vacancy to the May 2024 election.

About the Author

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

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