Official replaced after accused of abuse

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

May 21, 2014 at 12:21 a.m.
Updated May 22, 2014 at 12:22 a.m.

GANADO - School board members settled on an interim leader for the district Wednesday night to replace former Superintendent Jeff Black, who is under investigation for suspected child abuse.

Wednesday's special meeting of the GISD board followed Black's placement on paid administrative leave May 15 after accusations were made that he abused a female minor.

Details about the abuse have not been released by officials, pending the ongoing investigation.

Board members chose former Ganado High School Principal John Hardwick to fill the interim position while Black focuses on "personal matters," school board president Pierce Thedford Jr. said.

Hardwick served as principal in Ganado between 1981 and 1991 and retired in 2010 as the superintendent of Beeville Independent School District.

Thedford said a start date had not been set, and a salary is being negotiated.

"I'm very excited about being able to return to Ganado," Hardwick said. "It doesn't seem like much has changed, which is good."

Hardwick said he enjoys serving in different interim positions after retirement.

Meanwhile, the Ganado Police Department as well as the Department of Family Protective Services are investigating the accusation against Black, said Police Chief Rodney Roberson.

Roberson said the incident did not occur on school property nor during school hours.

"If it happened, it happened many years ago," Roberson said.

Additional information about the case was not released, pending the ongoing investigation.

Six members of the board of trustees, principals of all GISD schools, a business manager, a plant supervisor and a representative from the district's financial department all met in a private session for about three hours Wednesday night while interviewing Hardwick and former Ganado High School athletic director Tom Jones.

"It was an honor for me to be asked," Jones said about being considered for the interim position.

Thedford said both candidates came highly recommended, and the vote could have gone either way. Hardwick's project experience, however, gave him a slight advantage, Thedford said.

"We have a major project with the cafeteria remodeling, which is timely - it needs to be done before the students return in the fall," he said.

Black will remain on paid leave, officials said, and the length of the interim appointment will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

Board member Michael Luera did not attend the meeting.



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