Trevino to take “Development Leave”
By LPR Staff
Lockhart ISD Superintendent Rolando “Rudy” Trevino was offered a Professional Development Leave on Tuesday night, leaving District Chief Financial Officer Tina Knudsen as acting Superintendent.
During more than eight hours of executive sessions over two consecutive night, the LISD Board of Trustees came
to difficult decisions, which included offering Trevino the leave period, and opening an unrelated human resources investigation.
Trevino has come under fire recently for his staffing decisions, bringing community ire as he attempted to rearrange cabinet-level and campus-level administration to meet his charge of “bringing the District to the next level” in testing and accountability scores.
Unfortunately for Trevino, those changes have been met with resistance and extensive public outcry on social media.
Because staffing decisions are generally not discussed in open session by the Board, the justifications behind those changes have not been made clear in the public eye. However, sources within the District suggest the changes were made with the best interest of LISD students.
Still, as evidenced by the Board’s overturning of the reassignment of Head Coach Gene Salazar on Monday evening, some of those reasons may not have passed muster.
On the eve of the Lion Baseball season opener, the Board voted 4-3 to overturn Salazar’s reassignment, reinstating him as Head Baseball Coach with very little comment after hearing a grievance presented by Salazar and his attorney. Trustees Jon Reyes, Michael Wright and Steve Johnson voted against Salazar’s reinstatement.
Later on Monday evening, as the clock ticked toward Tuesday morning, the Board exited a marathon executive session to announce the hiring of an outside human resources consultant to conduct an “investigation.”
Although the Board did not offer an explanation as to the need for the investigation, sources involved in staffing complaints have suggested allegations of harassment and creation of a hostile work environment have been levied against a veteran, cabinet-level member of LISD Administration.
Taken together, along with other concerns voiced by Trustees in recent weeks, the situations suggest the rift has been growing between Trevino and the Board, and time apart may be in good order.
A timeline on the Professional Development Leave was not explained, but Board President Carl Cisneros noted during the time frame, Trevino would be working toward completing his doctorate.
Trevino did make a mark in the “win” column this week, however, as he led the District into a contract for purchase of property in Lytton Springs for the construction of the new elementary school approved by voters through a bond project last spring.
The property, located on FM 1854 near the junction of Lytton Lane (County Road 174) is one of three that Trevino and project manager Robert Gadbois had considered for the location of the new elementary school. They chose the area based on the population concentration in northeast Caldwell County, and the growth rate of that population in the elementary demographic.
“I want to thank the School Board for the decision to build a school in Lytton Springs,” Trevino said after the Board approved the purchase. “I think the community of Lytton Springs, primarily the low income families out there, will greatly benefit from this.”
Although the property was being offered for purchase, rather than donation – as other properties in the county had been – Trevino and Gadbois recommended the location based on a variety of factors, including the infrastructure already in place, the proximity to emergency services, and the availability of street access on FM 1854.
However, Trustee Jessica Neyman said she felt she did not have enough information to effectively make the best decision about the property purchase, and chose to abstain from the vote. Likewise, Wright chose to abstain from the vote, without offering a detailed explanation as to why.
Johnson voted against entering the purchase contract, which offers the District time to perform due diligence with the Texas Department of Transportation and other agencies before closing at the price of $7,200 per acre. Cisneros and Reyes, along with Trustees Brenda Spillmann and Tom Guyton approved the purchase, passing the vote 4-1-2.
In brief news:
Because of the length of Monday night’s executive session, the Trustees opted to push most of their regular business to the next Board Workshop, slated for March 23, 2015. Additionally, the Trustees opted not to recognize students in several programs for their accomplishments, having opted earlier in the day to ensure student safety by canceling after-school activities under the threat of inclement weather. The recognitions will take place on March 30.
The Board heard projections regarding the upcoming 2015-2016 budget, which is beginning to be processed by the District’s finance department. Because it is early in the State Legislative Session, it is unclear how the Legislature will handle school funding, which could have a significant impact on LISD finances.
The LISD Board of Trustees has a workshop on the third Monday and their regularly scheduled meeting on the fourth Monday of each month in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public and are webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.