LISD revisits renaming decision
By LPR Staff
Public interest ran high during a special called meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees on Thursday evening.
The trustees called the meeting to help clarify a decision made 10 days earlier to rename the Lockhart High School campus in honor of M. Louis Cisneros.
The decision, it seems, was met with both resistanc
e and confusion in the community, and because the agenda item not been posted online, the board opted to void the decision to allow additional time for public input.
The public did not disappoint.
More than 50 local residents attended the meeting, setting up camp in visibly divided factions in support of and against the decision, and Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., announced that public commentary would be allowed due to the subject matter. It was important to the board, he said, to allow the community to let their voices be heard.
Local pastor Randy Frye was the first to approach the board, offering a plea to both the panel and the community to be mindful of the lessons our decisions and actions teach our children.
“People come here confused and not understanding what the issue is about,” he said. “Some come angry and that’s the way they want to stay. Others come with righteous indignation… and that’s what they think politics is about.”
Frye encouraged the board and the community to “interact with each other in the way of peace” to help serve the best interest of the children and the community.
Frye’s plea, many said after the meeting, was both timely and impactful, and the community responded in kind. A crowd that had been emotional and reactive remained calm and respectful during the discussion.
Seven members of the community came forward to discuss the board’s decision, which over the course of two weeks grew into a full-blown controversy drawing attention through vast e-mail circles and even being discussed on a San Antonio sports radio program. Most, though they recognized Cisneros deserved an honor from the community, decried the board for the perceived secrecy of the decision.
“When we elected you, we put in you a trust,” said Kyle Horton. “We can’t be at every meeting, and that’s why we elected you. We want to be able to trust you and know that you’re acting in the best interest of the community. The honoring of Mr. Cisneros is a great thing, but the way you went about it… It’s muddying for him.”
By and large, the other speakers against the proposition echoed Horton’s sentiments, voicing the feeling that, because of the eleventh-hour agenda change and the irregular time and place of the meeting, the board had intentionally deceived the community.
Additionally, the trustees drew fire because the original motion suggested waiving the “second reading” of the nomination, which is required by local policy in discussions of renaming facilities.
The trustees were steadfast in their apologies to Cisneros, for putting him and his family in a “position which he would have never put himself,” as board vice-president John Flores said. Two trustees maintained the policy had been followed, and that a simple breakdown in communication between the board and administration was responsible for the confusion that followed.
“I asked that the agenda be changed on Wednesday, and I was told that it was too late,” said Trustee Juan Alvarez, who made the original motion to name the school. “Someone came forward with a request, and the board voted on that with our hearts. We need role models, and here we have a role model and a hero in the community and that needs to come out.”
Under advice from their legal counsel, the trustees voted to void the decision, but all committed to revisit the decision later this year. In her motion, Trustee Susan Brooks noted new board members would take the time to be trained properly and to hear input from the community. She also noted Cisneros is a personal hero of hers, and an asset to the community. She suggested that, when the item comes back before the board, it is likely they will make a dedication of some kind in Cisneros’ honor.
She asked the board to revisit the item in November.
Juarez, Alvarez and Trustee John Manning voted against Brooks’ measure, while the other four trustees offered votes in support of putting off the choice until later.