Some’s Hot, Some’s Not 12/05/12

The search is on…..Bev’s Burner received a copy of a letter from a fan that had been sent to all board members. I would like to run it here as I totally agree with the letter writer.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Since 1995 to the present, there have been four superintendents of FBISD with only one, the esteemed Dr.. Betty Baitland, being selected for the position from within the District.  FBISD spends what has to be an extreme amount of money on the search and then payouts upon the exiting of superintendents.  

My question is this:  Wouldn’t it be more prudent to use the money that is set aside for a nationwide search and then most likely a payout, on needs for teaching the kids, and hire from within the District?

FBISD has (including our current Acting Superintendent) individuals who know the workings and personnel of this district from the inside out, someone who “gets” where the District has been and how far it has come.  Why lose that perspective to a newcomer who has his/her own visions of where FBISD should go?  

In my opinion, we just witnessed a grueling time in FBISD’s history with the previous superintendent’s  tenure.  NEVER have I heard such a breath of relief from students, adults and the community as when he resigned.  Morale was at it’s lowest during his “reign;” I hope and pray there is never a repeat of the likes of that era again.  

As a taxpayer and parent, I want to see established talent and capability recognized.

Name  withheld by request

In an answering letter which I was made privy to, board member/president(?) Susan Hohnbaum said, “As a board, we felt this was the best route to take-to use a professional for a task none of us have ever undertaken.” Ms. Hohnbaum pointed out the search was about $30,000 which was not the cost of a first year teacher.

Our letter writer was correct in mentioning that Dr. Betty Baitland was promoted from within and did work out wonderfully until some board  members were elected that did the district a great disservice from which we are only now recovering. The back story was that a coach was “retired” because he let a student get injured which he was playing on his computer in his office. He and another disgruntled employee ran for the school board and only one won. He teamed up with a couple of other board members, some, led down the garden path, and some just wanted to make a name for themselves.

Many shameful things were done including hiring a lawyer whose claim to fame was he was caught washing his car and taking his child to the zoo during office hours when he was a Houston official. He was hired at a high price to find financial wrongdoings on the part of Ms. Baitland and he found nothing. As one board member famously shouted, “Is that all you got?!” By the way, his main office was a private post office box. I have no idea whose friend he was.

One of the most shameful things that was done happened at the first meeting of the recently elected board. Lisa Richert engineered her election as president of the board and her first office act in the middle of the meeting was to order Dr.. Baitland to the end of the table from her usual place at the side of the board president. She was told to get her things and move to the very end of the board table. It was bad manners and something that could have been accomplished in a much nice and less  noticeable manner. However, it certainly showed Ms. Rickert’s intentions and her raising. There was an audible collective intake of breath from the audience.

Board meetings became so contentious that campus cops had to guard the meetings. Not from Dr. Baitland or other officials but from the audience which was ready to lynch Ms. Rickert. Needless to say, Ms. Rickert and others on the board were “one and gone,” a term used locally to indicate a one term situation,

Although Dr. Baitland agreed to stay on until a new superintendent was hired, that board was having none of that and instead named a woman who was the new head of human resources to lead the district. It was a disaster.

She did the best she could to follow the edicts of the board president but there was such rancor and retaliations that the district has suffered for years. I would dare say there are still people in the district who are still mad about the incident. I know I am and I don’t even work there. In any event, Dr. Jenney was hated from the beginning. Some because of the way Dr. Baitland was treated because she started as a teacher and came up through the ranks so she was “one of them” as far as the staff was concerned, and some because evidently Dr. Jenney had a personality that rankled the rank and file.

Over the past 35 years, FBISD had a rather checked history of superintendents.

The first superintendent I remember was:

• Lawrence Elkins, who served for 10 years
• Dr. Rodney  LeBoeuf, 7 years
• Dr. Raj K. Chopra, 3 years
• Dr. Don W. Hooper, 7 years
• Dr. Betty Baitland, 7 years
• Dr. Manuela Pedraza, 1 year
• Dr. Timothy R. Jenney, 6 years

So about every six or seven years, it seems FBISD gets another superintendent. This may be healthy but I’m sure tired of paying off the departing superintendents. I’m sure the taxpayers are too.

It’s about time we hire a superintendent with the proviso:

“If you leave on your own or we fire you, you take no severance pay!” Of course we may not be able to hire a superintendent with that attitude.

I haven’t met the Acting Superintendent Michael McKie although he had indicated an interest in meeting all the media in FBISD. I’ll get around to it eventually. But from reports I hear, he is very qualified and generally liked.

Christmas notes … About eight years old is the age where children start to not be fooled so much. Every time my grandchildren find some presents I didn’t hide well enough before Christmas, I tell them they are for some poor children in the neighborhood.  This year they found some and when I said they were for poor children, they started giggling. “BeBe you always say that and they’re really for us.”

“Don’t look!” I yell.

B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at

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Posted by on Dec 5 2012. Filed under Bev's Burner. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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