EL PASO, Texas - On Dec. 6, 2012, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams appointed a board of managers to oversee the El Paso Independent School District.
He decided to leave Interim Superintendent Vernon Butler in that position but he elevated TEA monitor Judy Castleberry to conservator.
The moves are rare. The TEA's list of ousted school boards includes Wilmer-Hutchins School District in 2006, the Kendleton ISD board back in the early 1990s, and the North Forest Independent School District in 2008.
Things aren't going so well for the North Forest ISD.
In the TEA's Oct. 2008 statement on North Forest ISD, the agency said it was taking the action because of on-going financial concerns in the district. The district had a budget deficit of about $13 million in August at the end of the fiscal year. Its bond ratings have been downgraded. Systemic financial, academic and programmatic problems caused the district to receive an Accredited-Probation status from TEA in June. Scott said he was hopeful that the board of managers and new superintendent could stabilize and improve the North Forest ISD and the education it provides to students.
On Oct. 16, 2008, the Texas Education Commissioner installed a superintendent and board of managers to oversee the North Forest ISD. They had all the authority granted by law to a superintendent and a school board. The agency announced its plans to install the team in July but was awaiting preclearance from the Justice Department and resolution of a court challenge, according to a TEA news release from 2008.
By 2011, then Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott wanted North Forest ISD shut down by summer 2012 and annexed by the Houston Independent School District.
Scott scrapped that plan in March of this year when he withdrew his plan for HISD to annex the North Forest ISD for the 2012-2013 school year but he left open the possibility of ordering HISD to annex North Forest in July 2013.
North Forest ISD issued the following statement in March 2012:
"The Board of Trustees for the North Forest Independent School District is pleased with the decision announced today by the Texas Education Agency to allow NFISD another year to demonstrate it can sustain recent improvements that are already in progress. This is an opportunity for the Board and Superintendent to continue their work improving the district's academic and financial accountability. The TEA noted that while the district has experienced problems in the past, it is making steady progress now toward solving them. The agency's order says that if NFISD continues its progress, the order to merge it with the Houston School District will be withdrawn. This is a remarkable victory for the students, parents, teachers and the community of North Forest."
Also in March 2013, KTRK-TV reported that after just over two years on the job, North Forest ISD superintendent Dr. Adrain Johnson had been placed on administrative leave after a unanimous vote by the district's board of trustees. The board cited, in a prepared statement, "ongoing fiscal deficiencies, graduation rate concerns at North Forest High School, accreditation issues, and time sensitive staff reduction priorities. In the best interest of the district, the Board of Trustees felt it necessary to move in a different direction."
Johnson was appointed in 2008 by the TEA to lead North Forest ISD, an appointment that ended in fall 2010 but he remained on staff.
The TEA told KRTK-TV it had no idea what caused the school board to take this action saying, "The district was deeply in debt and though it still has a lot of debt to pay back, he helped them eliminate a lot of debt."