Wednesday, September 17, 2014




Calhoun school board chooses not to act on letter

By Elena Watts
June 25, 2014 at 1:25 a.m.
Updated June 26, 2014 at 1:26 a.m.


Members of the Calhoun County ISD board met behind closed doors for more than two hours Wednesday night to discuss a claim made by five teachers that their superintendent used district money to support his own financial interests.

The board members emerged about 8 p.m. from the closed meeting in the district's administration building but offered no comment about their discussions.

June 13, an attorney with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association wrote a letter to the school board that alleged Wiggins violated a school board policy by not filing financial disclosures related to funds paid to lead4ward.

The school district purchases supplemental State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness resources from lead4ward - a company that employs Gayla Wiggins, the wife of Superintendent Billy Wiggins.

Wednesday night, the board members chose to adopt the findings of Anne Marie Odefey, the school district's lawyer, that no further action was necessary regarding the letter sent by the association.

"The district needs to move forward," Wiggins said. "We need to get back to the business of educating kids in the middle of this construction project."

He declined to comment further.

Odefey said Wiggins misunderstood the filing requirements.

"He thought that Mrs. Wiggins would have to have some ownership in the company before he was required to file the affidavit."

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association letter - which was submitted on behalf of Christine Amerson, Rhonda Hahn, Brian Franck, Maggie Franck and Lina Moore - asked the school board to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and take appropriate action.

Moore, the principal at Travis Middle School, was the subject of a recent campaign by teachers and community members who were unhappy because Wiggins reassigned Moore to a different position within the school district.

"I've never seen teachers and staff put their jobs on the line like this for anyone," said Sheryl Cuellar, Moore's sister. "My mom, my dad and Lina have taught all their lives in Calhoun County."

Those who have expressed concern about the financial irregularities grew up in the school district and have remained in Calhoun County, Cuellar said. Their children now attend the same schools.

"Teachers have stepped up, commented and risked a lot," Cuellar said. "How this unfolds affects lots of careers."

Jay Cuellar, a member of the school bond committee and Moore's brother-in-law, said the board's representation of the people is crucial because it holds the superintendent accountable. Cuellar is disappointed that the board has not listened to the public.

"The board has a responsibility to the teachers and the citizens to dive into the issue and report its findings," Jay Cuellar said.

Evan Mutchler, Moore's 25-year-old son, said the controversy is a matter of integrity. It is morally wrong to do business with school district money that benefits a school district employee's family member, he said.

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