LA MARQUE — School board member Shirley Fanuiel is set to step away from her duties for a while.

She has not commented publicly since she was indicted on felony theft charges earlier this month, but in a statement to be read by school board President Nakisha Paul at today’s meeting, Fanuiel will announce she is taking a leave of absence.

She won’t attend the meeting and is not resigning from the board, Paul said. 

“She wants to take a leave of absence until this is all resolved,” Paul said. 

Today’s meeting is the first time the school board will meet since Fanuiel was charged. It’s unclear when and if Fanuiel will stand trial.

Paul said there are no restrictions on how long a school trustee can be away from office. 

“She cannot be forced from the board unless she is found guilty (of a felony),” Paul said.

Fanuiel is accused of defrauding an 88-year-old La Marque man out of his house and an annuity, the district attorney’s office said. The alleged theft occurred between 2009 and 2013, District Attorney Jack Roady said.

The 16-year school trustee is listed on the agenda for today’s meeting to make a statement. The trustees are also supposed to meet on two employee grievances.

The indictment accuses Fanuiel of illegally obtaining the house of Wade Watkins. She is also accused of illegally obtaining Watkins’ annuity.

Watkins, a former executive chef for Gaido’s, became a ward of Galveston County Social Services in 2011 because of diminished mental capacity, the district attorney’s office said. 

The indictment contends that Fanuiel obtained power of attorney from Watkins and transferred ownership of Watkins’ house in the 2600 block of Rosalee into her name.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or


(8) comments

Walter Manuel

"Paul said there are no restrictions on how long a school trustee can be away from office".

That statement alone shows just how easily our school district can be held hostage by single member districts and every reason why we need something in place to prevent this from happening again in the future.

This should be interesting to see just how long this crap will be drug out watching the board members continue to support one of their own despite the district being on it's last leg and this negativity hanging over the districts head?

I suppose our school district has a way of attracting liars and thieves so it's just about par that no one would think of the students and taxpayers first, as well as, the school districts image rather than of themselves?

Oh well, I guess for some people it really has always been all about themselves at the top of their list, so why should we even be surprised now by anyone's actions?

LMISD continues moving in the "WRONG" direction.....[yawn]

Bruce Blankenship

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Continued woes of LMISD, an opportunity to have fresh thoughts and fresh ideas would help LMISD. Where is the win-win for the district with an individual board member allowed to take a leave of absense, due to a very serious charge. The missed vote could hinder important decisions to enhance the children of the district. Most organizations have a code of conduct to request dismissal of position if a max of three missed scheduled board meetings. Good Luck to the LMISD Supertindent, having the continual presence of the buddy, buddy system.

Paul Hyatt

Not for sure why she stepped down as she should have resigned and then if she was cleared then run again for her position....


First of all I would like to second what Mr. Hyatt, Goose, and Mr. Manuel stated below. While doing so I must say that I had no expectation other than what has been displayed in this whole "nasty" prolonged reign of educational terror, existing here, and which has been ALLOWED to exist here, this community's constituents!
When any parent can stand in the hub of this county, and peer over at PISD,..FWISD, CCISD, DISD, and TCISD, seeing how prosperous they are,...and then observe the way in which LMISD is being systematically brought down by incompetency, upheaval, and scandal, then burying one's head in the sand,...leaving a child under that quality of leadership, exposing them to that quality of educational environment is pure, dee...unconscionable!
Interesting enough, I never expected a "resignation" by the trustee in question,...even though I came out early and suggested one. I never expected a "leave of absence" especially at this point in the game, because it would lead a reasonable person to think,....the state's representative who is now essentially holding a "hammer" over this sub-poorly performing board's head,..might have had something to do with it.
I've said many times in the interest of the children here that they might as well close LMISD down. I did not take that position likely, because there would be many individuals harmed if that were to happen, but there will be many more than that who would be tremendously helped if it were to happen! It would definitely be for the greater good, because even though employees would retain employment,..if nothing is done,..the disastrous, long term effects and consequences it would inflict on students here,... would be catastrophic, if no changes are made. Another strong point is LMISD is NOT first a place of employment,.. but instead,..a place of education, and foundation building for the young first, and foremost!
So, it is now time for the kids of this district, and taxpayers as well, to receive some relief from the TEA! The state TEA needs to stop discriminating on this community and do for us, what they did for the community of the now defunct North Forest ISD,....and that is to close this under performing,..sub-par,...incompetent sucker downnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!! Ummmmha!!! Yes, I LEANED into that one,...and yes I'm HOT!!! [angry]

George Croix

From a March 6 GDN article about the appointed LMISD conservator:

"... any move or decision has to meet with Price’s approval. The same for any decisions by the school board, an agency spokeswoman said.
“He is in on every decision,” spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said. “If the board or superintendent makes a decision he doesn’t feel is in the best interest of the school district he can override it.”
Price can even direct school board members on how they must vote, Culbertson said."
Evidently, he has some limits...

Jim Forsythe

Can the conservator force Fanuiel
off the board, or is he the reason she stepped down?

George Croix

'Stepping away' amounts to nothing more than taking a really long potty break would.
But, why resign.
We see daily in living color that the new way for our elected public servants to handle themselves is to delay, delay, delay until an issue goes away.
It's just a big nationwide game of follow the leader.

Mike Meador

There will not be a place for her to come back take as long as you want Fanuiel.

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