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Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

Austin- Commissioner of Education Michael Williams today announced his appointments to a seven-member board of managers for the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD). 

The board will be sworn in at a special called meeting July 21.

The board of managers will be responsible for overseeing the management of the BISD, including oversight of the district’s efforts to address and correct identified deficiencies and to implement effective, structural and procedural improvement strategies for long-term, positive change.

The decision ends a long standing battle by current board members and Superintendent Timothy Chargois to keep their jobs after after a financial mismanagement scandal rocked the district followed by arrests and now financial challenges that have the district struggling to stay afloat.

The people I’m appointing to the board of managers understand the difficult task ahead, but are committed to getting the job done for their community,” said Commissioner Williams. “I have full confidence this board of managers will strengthen the overall condition of the Beaumont Independent School District, while ensuring a solid education for every student.”

Commissioner Williams announced in April his decision to appoint a board of managers for the Beaumont ISD. The Beaumont school board appealed the decision.

The second and final phase of the record review of the commissioner’s proposed action occurred Friday. A ruling issued today by TEA Deputy Commissioner Michael Berry upheld the commissioner’s decision, clearing the way for the appointment of the board of managers.

To the community this has been a God Send blessing to Beaumont Texas,” said Texas activist Ricky Jason. “It is my hope that the rest of those who stole from the district and hurt these children that justice will be served for them also.”

Jason was one of the first activists to detect problems in the district and step up and call for Superintendent Chargois to go.

Right is right and wrong is wrong,” he said. “It is time to make this right and we will continue to monitor this until complete Justice is done.”

The board of managers will assume all responsibilities of the elected board of trustees. The seven individuals appointed to the BISD board of managers are:

 A.B. Bernard

A longtime community and business leader, A.B. Bernard has more than five decades of experience in business and management principles, strategic planning, resource allocation, leadership technique and the coordination of people and resources. In addition to his extensive professional experience working in large companies, Bernard has a strong record of community service, including his efforts on the boards of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, Communities In Schools of Southeast Texas, Communities In Schools of Texas Foundation and Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

 Lenny Caballero

Lenny Caballero serves as the director of event facilities for the City of Beaumont. A decorated Navy veteran who served during the first Gulf War, Caballero has an extensive professional work history in inter-organizational management, external communications, labor negotiations and operations and facilities management. He has served on numerous boards in the Beaumont community. Caballero and his wife have three children – two who attend schools in the Beaumont Independent School District.

 Jack Carroll

Jack Carroll is a partner in the Beaumont offices of Orgain, Bell & Tucker, LLP. His principal areas of practice are personal injury and commercial litigation. Carroll earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from Baylor University and a law degree from the Baylor University School of Law. He was a certified public accountant for 12 years and worked for Deloitte Haskins & Sells before attending law school. Carroll and his two children are graduates of the Beaumont public schools.

 Joe Domino

Joe Domino, former president and chief executive officer of Entergy Texas, recently completed a long and distinguished career with the company, where he established a well-deserved reputation for quickly addressing issues to maximize performance, strengthen internal processes and strengthen the company’s overall reputation. Domino has served as a trustee on the Lamar University Foundation and as chair of the Trusteeship and Governance Committee. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University and a master of engineering science degree from Lamar University.

 Vernice Monroe

A longtime local advocate for children, Vernice Monroe currently serves as liaison to the president on Multicultural Enhancement at Lamar University. The former director of the Social Work program at Lamar, she was awarded the honorary title of Associate Social Work Professor Emeritus upon her retirement in 2008. As board president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Monroe was named Child Advocate of the Year and has been a volunteer advocate since 2005.

 Jimmy Simmons

Previously the president of Lamar University, Jimmy Simmons resigned his position in 2013 to return to the Lamar faculty as a music instructor. Simmons is widely regarded as one of the most successful presidents in the university’s history, winning numerous awards for his successful administration. During his tenure as president, Simmons led efforts on multiple fronts to strengthen higher education opportunities in the region. A graduate of Beaumont High School, Simmons has well-established ties to the community.

 Robert Turner

An established business leader in the region, Robert Turner was the first African-American to serve as chairman of the board for the Greater Beaumont Area Chamber of Commerce. Turner moved to the Golden Triangle in 2000 and purchased JK Chevrolet, a longtime General Motors dealership. He later opened the Subaru dealership under the same name. Turner and his wife are parents to former and current BISD students. They have four boys, two girls and four grandchildren.

Commissioner Williams also announced the appointment of Vern Butler as BISD interim superintendent when the board of managers is installed. Butler previously served as interim superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District, assisting an appointed board of managers in restoring public confidence in that district. Butler will serve only on an interim basis, until the BISD board of managers can identify and hire a permanent superintendent.

Finally, Commissioner Williams is instructing Fred Shafer to remain in his role as conservator.

Shafer, who was appointed BISD conservator in April, will help support the board of managers and interim superintendent due to the overall weakened financial condition of the district, as well as a variety of other issues.

Due to multiple delays created by the district, this board of managers has been placed in a tough position where a number of large financial decisions must be made in a very short period of time,” said Commissioner Williams. “The district’s road back to true stability and credibility will be a long one, but it will be trusted community members from Beaumont who will successfully map out the path.”

The board of managers will be in place for up to two years. A school board election must be called within two years of this appointment.