Updated 9:50 p.m. 7/11
DESOTO (CBSDFW.COM) – Monday was the first day on the job for DeSoto’s new school superintendent. But, under fire for a cheating scandal in Georgia, Kathy Augustine’s first day could also be her last.
Trustees of the DeSoto Independent School District school board meet behind closed doors Monday evening to discuss the Georgia cheating scandal and the extent to which it implicates their new superintendent.
With a doctorate from Harvard and 35 years in public education, Kathy Augustine appeared to be a top pick for the $188,000 a year job.
But, now the former Atlanta Public Schools Deputy Superintendent has been cited in one of the largest test cheating investigations in the nation. Augustine is accused of purposely providing investigators with false information.
The 60-year-old administrator issued a statement Wednesday, dismissing the accusations against her.
DeSoto school board trustee Sandra Wheeler says the district has no business hiring anyone who is under suspicion and claims that critical data about Augustine was not revealed by the search firm who recommended her.
“We should’ve been notified about that right up front,” Said Wheeler. “If I’m going to interview someone who’s under investigation, that should’ve been told to us before we even got to her.”
George McShan, the lead consultant for the educational leadership search firm BWP & Associates says Wheeler’s statements are wrong and a misrepresentation of the facts.
McShan says the Atlanta cheating investigation was discussed thoroughly with DeSoto trustees, and nothing in the investigation, at the time gave them pause regarding Augustine.
BWP was paid $14,000 to conduct the superintendent search.
The special called DeSoto school board meeting got underway at 6:30 p.m. Monday night and as of 9:45 was still in closed door session. Outside, a group of protesters led by unsuccessful board candidate Cecil Lofton called for Augustine’s firing. Lofton has three students in the district and says board members owe it to DeSoto to apologize for hiring the embattled leader. “We were the first ones to come to this board when we knew that they were interviewing Dr. Augustine and we said, ‘No, we don’t accept that. There are a lot more people across America that fits this bill more than she does because of this cheating scandal. We don’t need that.”
Augustine claims she knew nothing directly about the scandal, and was up front about the investigation.
The former chairman of the Atlanta school board, Khaatim El, resigned from the school board Monday night because of the investigation, telling the school board in Georgia he “failed to protect thousands of children.”