LA MARQUE — The school district has formally filed an appeal to the state’s decision to place it on accreditation probation, the district’s superintendent said Thursday.
Last month, the Texas Education Agency assigned a conservator to overlook the La Marque school district’s operations following a state-issued probation because the district failed to meet academic or financial standards for three consecutive years.
Superintendent Terri Watkins said she is asking for the state to give her another year to stabilize the district that’s been facing declining enrollment, serious budget issues and has been hit or miss on academic standards. Watkins has been on the job for five months.
Watkins said that under normal state procedures, the state would have at first issued an accreditation warning to the district after two years of substandard performance. Only after that warning would the state issue accreditation probation if standards were not met in the third year.
Because last year no accreditation ratings were issued in the state by TEA, La Marque was never given that official warning status.
“That is what I am fighting for,” Watkins said. “We deserve that right.”
Watkins repeated what’s become her mantra since taking over. Things are improving and the school is on a better financial footing.
The district is following its financial solvency plan, which includes matching its staff level to the number of students. For academics, there are new teacher training programs, a recently launched after-school program and more administrative oversight in lesson planning.
She insists it will take more time for changes to take hold.
“We need three to five years it turn this district around,” Watkins said.
Fanuiel steps away
As expected, school board president Nakisha Paul read a statement Thursday night from embattled school trustee Shirley Fanuiel. The board’s most veteran member announced she is taking a leave of absence as she fights felony theft charges.
“The board has made great progress in the past year,” Fanuiel wrote. “I would like for my personal problem not be the focus of the board, therefore, I am taking a temporary leave of absence.”
Fanuiel was indicted earlier this month on charges of felony theft from a senior citizen. She is accused of illegally obtaining a house and annuity from a man who suffered from dementia.
School trustees did not publicly comment on Fanuiel’s statement.