School board rejects drill team director's grievance
Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:26 a.m.
The room hushed as DJ Jaynes, the former West High School dance instructor, walked to her seat in front of the school board at a special hearing Tuesday morning.
Jaynes, who wore mostly black, asked through a grievance to be reinstated. She was represented by Dwight Harris, grievance officer with the Victoria Federation of Teachers.
The hearing was wrought with accusations, tears and paper-throwing.
Jaynes spoke slowly, her lips tight, her head down, looking at her red fingernails, before accusing a board member and his wife, who are drill team parents, of causing the reassignment.
"I've been told by many people in and out of administration . that Bernie and Laura Klimist have very much to do with this," she said.
Mentioning names of parents or students was against the rules of this meeting.
The audience gasped as Klimist, a longtime friend of Jaynes' family, glared, and board president Tami Keeling was visibly upset.
"I think we can go no further with this . just strike all the rest that's going to follow on that line," Keeling said. But after Harris offered multiple apologies, he continued. He later gave the board copies of a petition, a letter from Brady Castille, Jaynes' son, and a third document again naming parents and a child.
Keeling stopped the meeting and asked for the papers.
"Right here. Straight down, and that's where they're going to stay," she said.
Klimist crumbled the paper and shot it across the board at Keeling.
"The only things I can say is how dare you," he said, glaring at Jaynes. "How dare you, and you know the truth."
Klimist stepped out of his chair and left the room as Jaynes' supporters applauded.
"I am staying out of this because of the conversations I've had with both parties," Klimist said.
Jaynes, who taught dance for 32 years, was reassigned Sept. 30 to teach physical education at Mitchell Guidance Center after the district investigated allegations of hazing and harassment.
Harris contended school Superintendent Bob Moore violated district policies when he reassigned Jaynes.
"He's exercised his authority in what we think is perhaps illegal and at the very least not justified in this case," he said.
Harris said the district did not provide evidence as to why Jaynes was reassigned.
Clay Cain, school district attorney, said the school board had no authority to reinstate Jaynes, according to the Texas Education Code.
"Your choices here today are very simple. You can vote to uphold the decision or you can take no action," he said. "I do not believe you have any other option."
Cain also said the district policy does not say that people who are reassigned must be given a reason why.
Superintendent Moore explained little about his decision.
"It is my opinion that it is in the best interest of the school district to reassign Mrs. Jaynes from her previous position to the current position," he said.
A woman in the crowd mumbled "coward," and some listened with mouths open.
The board then voted 6-0 to reject Jaynes' request. Klimist abstained.
"I take no pleasure in having to do this, but it is our duty - and I speak for my colleagues - to do so being objective and listening," said Lou Svetlik, board member.
Jaynes left the room before the meeting adjourned, and much of the audience trailed her in tears. She embraced sobbing parents, children, former students and kissed a baby in a somber procession to the doorway.
Hayley Zarbock, a 14-year-old drill team member, was pulled from school by her mother to attend and wept after hearing the outcome.
Hayley said she will probably quit the team now.
Another team member was not so quick to quit.
"I'm not giving up. I want her as my coach," said Kaitlynn Balli, 14. "I will do anything."
Schuyler Warnell, a 19-year-old former Victoriadore major and cheerleader for the Houston Texans, drove from Houston to show support.
"I love DJ," she said. "The outcome is just not fair. It's not fair to the girls on the team currently, and it's not fair to girls who have been on the team."
Both Hayley and Warnell said they never knew of any student hazing or harassment.
"Without being with DJ on this team, I don't think I would have made the accomplishments I have today," Warnell said, her voice breaking. "I just can't believe she's gone."
Jaynes has been instructed to have no contact with former students or enter the West High School campus.
She could appeal the decision to the Texas Education Agency, but Harris said he's not sure what will happen next.
"I'm sure it will probably take her a few days to decide that, and when she does, we'll talk about it and decide what to do next," he said.