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Calhoun County ISD superintendent retires after controversy

By Bianca Montes , Bianca Montes
Aug. 10, 2014 at 6 p.m.


Meeting

The Calhoun County Board of Trustees will meet again 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28. Meetings are in the Administration Building board room at 525 N. Commerce St. in Port Lavaca.

Billy Wiggins, Calhoun County school district superintendent, has retired, officials confirmed Sunday.

Wiggins took a personal leave of absence from the position July 23, following a conflict of interest controversy involving school district money spent with a company that employed his wife.

The agreement made at a school board meeting Thursday allowed Wiggins to retire and pursue other interests. It also allowed the board to hire a superintendent, according to a joint statement released by Wiggins and the board.

The statement noted both parties had "entered into the agreement believing it was in their respective best interests and in the best interest of the district."

Acting superintendent Jim Story will remain in position until it's filled.

Wiggins' retirement and the now-open superintendent position will be discussed at a future board meeting, trustees president Steve Marwitz said. However, he said he was unable to confirm when that would happen.

Marwitz declined to comment further on the subject.

Wiggins was hired by the district in December 2010, and his official retirement day is Dec. 19. He won't return to office and remains on his personal leave.

Wiggins went on leave after being notified a warrant was out for his arrest for failure to file financial disclosures.

The charges were rescinded by Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard on July 8.

A representative hired to speak on the behalf of five teachers at Calhoun County schools asked for a further investigation into the incident.

Julie Leahy, an attorney for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, wrote in the letter, "the situation creates the appearance of financial conflict and raises questions about other financial irregularities."

According to the letter, the association conducted a review into publicly available financial information and discovered a rather significant increase in business conducted with Lead4Ward.

Lead4Ward, the company Wiggins' wife is employed with, provides supplemental State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness resources to school districts.

Leahy and the teachers she represents could not be reached Sunday for comment.

It's district policy for a superintendent to file an affidavit with the board president to disclose any substantial interest in a business that would benefit from school district funds.

School district attorney Anne Marie Odefey told the Advocate there was a misunderstanding by Wiggins in regards to the requirements.

Conflict of interest disclosures are governed by sections 171 and 176 of the Texas Local Government Code. Section 176 requires that a person file a disclosure affidavit within seven days of being notified of a possible violation.

Wiggins filed the required affidavit within seven days after the potential conflict of interest was brought to his attention.

Wiggins wasn't available for comment Sunday.

Through the news release, Wiggins thanked the present and past board of trustees for providing him with the opportunity to serve in the school district.

"A school district is measured by the commitment of the board, staff and community to its children and their achievement," Wiggins wrote. "The district is indeed so committed."

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