DeSoto gets taken over by state education agency; superintendent says he did not resign, plans to continue working

This is story is being constantly updated.



a sign on the side of a building: DeSoto Independent School District headquarters sign in DeSoto, Texas, Wednesday, June 24, 2020.


© Tom Fox/Staff Photographer/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
DeSoto Independent School District headquarters sign in DeSoto, Texas, Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

DeSoto ISD will be taken over by a state-appointed conservator.

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And D’Andre Weaver, the district’s superintendent who announced plans to resign on Sunday during an emergency meeting, told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday that he did not sign a board-approved voluntary resignation agreement and plans to continue as DeSoto’s superintendent.

The Texas Education Agency sent a certified letter to the DeSoto board of trustees Wednesday, informing the district that A.J. Crabill, a former TEA deputy commissioner of education for governance, would serve in that role.

Investigators published a final report last month highlighting financial mismanagement that took place from 2012 to 2018, where the district amassed a $21.6 million budget shortfall through lax management and lavish spending. The report recommended that Texas education commissioner Mike Morath name a state-appointed conservator to run the district.

Wednesday’s letter — penned by Jeff Cottrill, the current TEA deputy commissioner of education for governance — said Crabill’s job would include, “but is not limited to”:

working on a corrective action plan to address issues found in the investigators’ report;

directing “the board of trustees regarding personnel actions for district employees as necessary to ensure effective leadership,” and;

ensuring the school board conduct hearings to notify the public on the district’s insufficient performance, any improvement plans expected by the TEA, and further interventions and sanctions that may be imposed if performance doesn’t improve.

The district has a right to request an informal review regarding the TEA’s plans to appoint Crabill, but DeSoto must offer a written request by Sept. 11 for that process to occur.

While Crabill will ostensibly be in control of the district, it’s unclear who he’ll be working with in DeSoto ISD’s administrative office.

On Sunday, the board voted 4-3 to accept the resignation of Weaver, 36, who had been with the district since September 2018. His tenure was a challenging one, tasked with correcting numerous instances of financial mismanagement and malfeasance that took place under the leadership of his predecessor, David Harris.

During the emergency board meeting, Weaver seemingly agreed to resign, telling the board he was “confident that we are in a better place than we were when we first started this.”

He also penned a farewell letter that was shared on the district’s website, which said he had decided to move on “so that DeSoto ISD can move forward.”

In his stead, the school board appointed Don Hooper as acting superintendent on a 4-3 vote. Hooper, the former superintendent in Fort Bend and Galena Park ISDs, was brought to the district in February as a consultant. Yet, in late July, the board promoted him as its own conservator, in an attempt to get ahead of the TEA’s pending decision.

This week, Hooper has been under fire for memes and messages he shared on social media that many in the DeSoto community find racist. In response, the three trustees who voted against Weaver’s resignation and Hooper’s appointment — Aubrey Hooper, Tiffany Clark and Amanda Sargent — called for a special board meeting on Saturday in hopes to name an interim superintendent.

Weaver, however, did not sign the voluntary resignation letter approved by the board on Sunday.

And in a text message to The News on Thursday asking if he planned to continue as DeSoto superintendent, Weaved texted: “Absolutely. In my mind, I’ve never stopped.”

Questions to DeSoto ISD and its board president, Karen Daniel, about Crabill’s appointment and Weaver’s decision to stay have yet to be answered.

The TEA has also yet to respond to a question on whether Crabill or DeSoto’s school board will be the final arbiter of Weaver’s status.

More to come on this story.

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©2020 The Dallas Morning News

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