DeSoto School Board Votes To Remove Superintendent

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM

DESOTO (CBSDFW.COM) – The DeSoto ISD School Board voted 3-2 Monday to part ways with embattled superintendent Dr. Kathy Augustine, who was placed on paid leave after her first day on the job.

The school board delayed voting on Augustine’s fate after a two-and-a-half-hour executive session during the last school board meeting on July 25, telling reporters they did not want to make a decision without the full board present.

Three trustees were missing then. Place 4 Trustee Curt Krohn and Place 7 Trustee Donald Gant were not present for Monday’s vote.

DeSoto ISD and Augustine will now begin a legal process to settle on a severance amount. Lavetta Levels will continue as acting superintendent.

“This is about leadership in this district. It’s about ethics and integrity,” said Place 1 Trustee and board secretary Sandra Wheeler. “At this time I don’t feel the leadership ability is there.”

Augustine was placed on leave while the school board investigated whether she was aware of a cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools, where she had served as deputy superintendent.

Investigators there found evidence of cheating in 44 of the 56 schools they researched, roughly 79 percent. Gov. Nathan Deal said 178 teachers and principals were found cheating on standardized tests by falsifying test results to meet their targets. Eighty-two of those confessed to wrongdoing.

“We empathize with those educators who felt they were pressured to cheat and commend those who were willing to tell us the truth regarding their misconduct,” Deal said in a statement issued in early July. “However, this report is not meant to excuse their ethical failings, or exonerate them from their wrongdoings.”

Augustine, who has a doctorate from Harvard and 35 years of experience in public education, has said she knew nothing of the years-long scandal and was up front with the consulting company that suggested her to the DeSoto ISD.

On July 11 – Augustine’s first day – Wheeler said the search firm that recommended the 60-year-old administrator had not told the board about the investigation.

“We should’ve been notified about that right up front,” Wheeler said then. “If I’m going to interview someone who’s under investigation, that should’ve been told to us before we even got to her.”

The DeSoto ISD paid Illinois-based education consultant BWP & Associates $14,000 to conduct the superintendent search. Lead consultant George McShan disputed Wheeler’s claims, calling them wrong and saying they were “a misrepresentation of the facts.”

The board voted Monday to begin to “negotiate the terms of voluntary exit” that were discussed in the executive session.

Augustine was to be paid $188,000 a year as superintendent of the district. No criminal charges were filed against anyone involved in the Atlanta cheating scandal.

The Texas Education Agency only requires “cause” to dismiss an administrator, which is largely left up to local school districts to define.

CBS 11 reporter Sharrie Williams contributed to this report.

Comments

One Comment

  1. darrell says:

    first mistake. they hired an agency from illinois.
    second mistake. negotiate her departure?
    i wont mention other obvious mistakes, im sure someone else will bring them up.

    i await your comments lol

    1. C Bauer says:

      LOL. Right – NEGOTIATE her departure. I would have been like, “There’s the door – USE IT! GET THE F–K OUT!”

    2. 2sister says:

      Unfortunately, they had her sign a contract knowing that she was under investigation for a cheating scandal. Legally, they probably had little choice but to negotiate a severance deal. They shouldn’t have hired in the first place, and they wouldn’t be in the predicament they are now in.

      1. 2sister says:

        I stand corrected. The board is saying that they didn’t know about the investigation. I seem to remember, however, that earlier stories said that they did know.

  2. Al says:

    Why do these school districts waste money on these over paid frauds? These small to mid size school districts must have real big budget surpluses to blow on this nonsense.

  3. Jack says:

    the fact that Desoto is not suing BWP & Associates tells me that BWP did its due diligence.

    Desoto would not be paying a severance had Dr. Augustine or BWP lied.

    1. C Bauer says:

      Did anyone ever stop and think that maybe her being accused of involvement in the cheating scandal was APPEALING to them?

      I can see it now. One board member to another: “Hey, her resume looks great! We might be able to get those scores up now, since she has experience cheating the system!”

      1. J. H. Christ says:

        That may be true, but if she did in fact not tell them about the investigation, as said in the story, that only makes the board and recruitment firm look stupid. A simple Google search or a few well-placed phone calls would have uncovered that within an afternoon.

  4. P.B says:

    It seems to me that Desoto school district doesn’t mind wasting money that the state of Texas really needs for the education that is suffering here.

  5. darrell says:

    when i went to school, in the big cave with the bell, we “learned” about history, geography, math, biology, social studies, etc; and in the process developed social skills as a by-product of interaction with others around us.
    today, kids go to school to socialize, text, twitter, facebook, bully, hookup etc, and while there are forced to try to learn how to pass a test so teachers can keep their jobs and get bonuses.
    in my day there was relatively a lot of success. today, its become total failure all the way around. kids cant pass the tests because teachers are unable to teach them. kids think the entire education system is interfering with their “rights” to socialize and do what they want.
    this all boils down to two reasons why.
    bad education policies
    bad parents
    it isnt the kids fault. they are a product of their enviornment, created and allowed by the two pillars children need the most. you have both failed in your responsibilities.

  6. Veronica says:

    I hope she Sues the pants off the districts she was not convicted of anything! This is crazy!

    1. C Bauer says:

      She was under investigation. That’s not good, either. Let’s look at it through the eyes of common sense. I know that’s hard for you, so we’ll put it in another scenario. You own a business that buys loose diamonds from Antwerp. You had an opening for a buyer, and that position was just filled by a person with a magnificent resume. Unbeknownst to anyone in the company, the buyer was just arrested for stealing diamonds from his previous employer, and is awaiting trial. The buyer is out on bail, and has not been convicted of anything yet. Are you still going to keep the buyer on your payroll? Honestly, now.

  7. C Bauer says:

    A lot of ISDs need a Joe Clark to start kicking ass.

  8. Thor says:

    I’ll bet she plays the race card.

    1. darrell says:

      ah, the imfamous race card blacks allways use when they feel affronted, or dont get there way. like kids throwing a tantrum.
      well, let me play devils advocate here Veronica.
      if the desoto isd had been majority white instead of majority black, they would have hired a white superintendant and we wouldnt be having this conversation anyway.
      as it is i actually applaud the desoto isd for setting race aside enough to do what is the right option and terminate someone with questionable integrity.

  9. MacRegent says:

    Hmmm–a $14k search fee, plus a severance package expended, and Ms. Levels is still acting superintendent. Why did this district not simply appoint Ms. Levels to the post in the first place, and save the taxpayers some $$?

  10. rmsbl4 says:

    Put on paid leave after ONE day and how much work did she accomplish. She has been paid to not show up to work so that should cover her severance pay which is way more than enough.

  11. Texas Idiots says:

    The SHEER LEVER OF STUPIDITY from DeSoto ISD is mind boggling. If you had HALF a brain school board, you’d have realized the AJC reported she was ACTIVELY engaged in covering up this scandal for TWO YEARS.

    They didn’t know, because with the exception of Wheeler they didn’t WANT to know.

    If the public re-elects them, with the exception of Wheeler, they are JUST as idiotic as the school board.

  12. C Bauer says:

    “Kathy, we have a message from you from the board.”

    “Really? What is it?”

    “Goodbye.”

    “That’s the entire message?”

    “We’d appreciate it if you would leave the DeSoto ISD.”

    “Really? When?”

    “Yesterday.”

    1. C Bauer says:

      FOR you, but you get the idea.

  13. Sing along says:

    NA NA NA NA
    NA NA NA NA
    Hey Hey Hey
    Goodbye

  14. Sarah says:

    These are allegations and she was not found guilty of committing any crimes. She was up front when she interviewed and told them about the investigation in the last district she was at. They hired her, she moved across country at great expense, then the school district had buyers remorse, this is not Dr Augustine’s problem. They will have to pay any ad all moving expenses to where ever she decide to move to, plus salary contract, will be negotiated separately…

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