Cockrill to return to LISD
By LPR Staff
In dealing with a difficult situation, there is no substitute for experience.
As the search for and Interim Superintendent for the Lockhart Independent School District continues, it is clear that the trustees hoped to find an experienced candidate to fill the chair soon to be vacated by Tom Bailey. The level and type of
experience board members desire in their candidate, however, was a point for contention.
During a special-called meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees on Monday, board members reviewed the candidates who put their names in the hat to be chosen as interim superintendent. Among those names were area resident and former LISD teacher Barbara Riojas, and the district”s last interim superintendent, Dr. Jack Cockrill. Much of the discussion, the board initially decided, was to be held in open session because of the recent level of public interest developed for such discussions.
Trustee Juan Alvarez opened the discussion with a vote of support for Riojas.
“[Ms. Riojas] is from here, and she”s more qualified than some of the other candidates we have,” Alvarez said. “Since I was elected, I have always tried to look at hiring local people, as long as they are qualified.”
Alvarez noted because Riojas is a local resident and former district employee, she should be aware of the needs of the district and how best to solve issues within the administration.
Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., and Trustee Carl Ohlendorf raised concerns about Riojas” qualifications, noting her lack of a superintendent”s certification and her lack of experience in a superintendency might be detrimental to a candidate coming into a difficult situation.
Alvarez responded to their concerns by citing information about an unrelated hiring decision, driving the board into executive session, so they could finish their discussion regarding named district employees and the circumstances of their employment behind closed doors.
When they returned from a lengthy session, the motion on the table, to award the position to Riojas, failed. The board instead voted unanimously to bring Cockrill back to the position he vacated in January.
In related news, Bailey requested the board release him from his contract effective on April 15. According to the request, as announced by Juarez, Bailey has secured other employment and has asked to be released in order to pursue that opportunity.
Bailey later confirmed the position he vacated in Olney, Texas, had not been filled while he was in Lockhart, and that he has received and accepted an offer to return to that position.
In other business, the board addressed an offer from the Lockhart City Council to move their meetings to the Glosserman Room of Lockhart City Hall, so the meetings can be televised.
Although the board members seemed amenable to the offer, they expressed some resistance to the idea of moving.
“One of the things we need to focus on is consistency,” Juarez said of the offer. “We know that people want to see the meetings, but I think it”s also important that we”re consistent about where we have them. We also have great facilities, and if we decide to televise the meetings, what better way to showcase the facilities we have.”
Instead of moving the meetings, the trustees asked the Information Technology department to continue researching the possibility of setting up a camera system in the LHS Conference Center and working with Time Warner Cable to televise the meetings.
Bailey cautioned the trustees against dismissing the offer out of hand, suggesting it might be cost prohibitive to install camera and sound equipment to televise board meetings.
The board will continue to gather information and attempt to work the appropriate equipment into the next fiscal year”s budget.
The board rectified a bookkeeping mistake that has kept a district employee from being paid since December.
The employee apparently fell ill during the summer break, and participated in the district”s catastrophic leave program until she returned to her duties in December. At that time, however, a clerical error kept her from being returned to the payroll, and according to the presentation to the board, she has not been paid since that time.
Alvarez pushed administration to report to the board where the breakdown happened.
“A lot of communications that should have happened didn”t, and some things that should have been acted upon weren”t,” Bailey said. “Because I”m “in charge,” it”s my job to make sure those things happen – so if you”re looking for someone to blame, I say “I”ll take responsibility.””
Bailey did note he had discussed the situation with the individuals involved with the oversight and with the district”s legal council, and the only appropriate course of action was to make the employee whole, and pay her for the days worked.
Though the situation could have been handled administratively, Bailey said, it was brought before the board to make sure the trustees were aware of the situation and its resolution.
The LISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the LHS Conference Center at#1 Lion Country Drive. Meetings are open to the public and parents, students and taxpayers are encouraged to participate.