Please, let us begin now to put what has happened to the La Marque Independent School District in the correct perspective. The article “TCISD tackles annex issues” (The Daily News, Feb. 4), absolutely made me ill. The conspiracy among the money seekers and leaders of our communities, to assist with the destruction of our school district, began, in earnest, in a meeting that was reported on in this same newspaper on Sept. 8, 2013. (“Master-planned project owner: LMISD is to blame for stalled TC development”). The actual meetings to annex our district began in 2006.

The meeting was composed of several powerful officials that included Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo, chamber of commerce members and Craig Mallery, a principal partner with Texas Gulf Coast Holdings. Mallery was quoted as stating, “There’s no question that being in La Marque ISD has stalled and hurt our development.” He was speaking specifically of the land north of 25th Avenue North near Bayou Golf Course in Texas City. The family’s plan is to turn its 1,400 acres into a master-planned community. However, as long as the tax dollars on the land was in the La Marque ISD, it would never happen.

Of interest, and I am quoting, and have proof, that in the Spring of 2007, the Texas City school board broached the subject of moving the land into the district of TCISD again. Lusignolo confirmed the action in a Feb. 8 memo to her school board members. In her memo, Lusignolo stated that the, “Developer is only interested in moving forward with the subdivision if the homes can be zoned to TCISD.”

Further, school trustees of TCISD met in closed sessions four times between Feb. 12 and April 9 to consult with districts’ attorney about the possibility of annexing the land in question. None of the agendas for those meetings noted what the board was discussing behind closed doors.

We now know that with the assistance of members of some of The Daily News staff, the chamber of commerce, the silence of our county and city officials, and the Texas Education Agency’s determination to not support our effort to continue the accomplishments that we had begun under the leadership of Superintendent Terri Watkins, success for the LMISD team felt like the struggle that physicians experience when trying to save a dying person without proper apparatuses. We witnessed a state that was determined to close another marginalized school district, with proof that is based on anything except honesty.

Lusignolo has stated often that TCISD did not have a choice but to annex LMISD. That statement is very misleading and is a tactic that is used to deceive a community. With the support of people who have assisted in our misfortune, Lusignolo is requesting the State of Texas to save her district from us by giving TCISD money. The Daily News editors have joined in the chorus. I will always know that LMISD is facing closure because of land use and tax dollars.

Edna Courville is a former trustee of the La Marque Independent School District and lives in Texas City.


(18) comments

Walter Manuel

Edna Courville, you and your friends who were finally ousted from the LMISD school board were thrown out for more reasons than you care to mention in your article.

It looks like Edna got the LMISD teacher on the TCISD school board to get her enough information to try and cover up the mess that they all finished making?

"I will always know that LMISD is facing closure because of land use and tax dollars".

"NO" Ms. Courville, LMISD is being FORCED to be annexed with TCISD because of the POOR leadership skills that Y'ALL consistently demonstrated as so called "leaders".

"Further, school trustees of TCISD met in closed sessions four times between Feb. 12 and April 9 to consult with districts’ attorney about the possibility of annexing the land in question".

"None of the agendas for those meetings noted what the board was discussing behind closed doors".

Oh, poor Edna, sound familiar like in the case that you and your friends often did as members of LMISD's board??? Now that the shoe was on the other foot and someone else did what y'all often did you want to yell "foul"???

"We now know that with the assistance of members of some of The Daily News staff, the chamber of commerce, the silence of our county and city officials, and the Texas Education Agency’s determination to not support our effort to continue the accomplishments that we had begun under the leadership of Superintendent Terri Watkins, success for the LMISD team felt like the struggle that physicians experience when trying to save a dying person without proper apparatuses".

Why would WE want to continue to support not only yours, but also your friends on the boards personal agendas that ultimately destroyed our once proud school district?

While your feeling the need to write "opinions" about what TCISD did behind closed doors, why don't you expand on what y'all did as a board as well in particularly with regards to the final agreement that y'all made with your friend Russel Washington and never made the final settlement public, the fact that Terri Watkins took money from LMISD that she was NOT entitled to, as well as, the fact that you incompetent board members misused OUR money to pay a lawyer $300,000 in an attempt to sue TEA in order to save your seats.

Let's see just how fast you put your money where your mouth is, I bet this lawsuit is dropped the minute the new lawyers for LMISD took over?

Speaking of lawyers,,,,, the new lawyers, interim superintendent, as well as. the new LMISD board of managers has a duty and an obligation to report to the taxpayers of LMISD what is currently happening with the rest of that $300,000 that was misued by the ousted board members, as well as, what is being done to recover all of OUR money from Terri Watkins.

The ousted LMISD board of trustees may have convinced Senator Larry Taylor, as well as, State Representative Wayne Faircloth that they were doing a great job, in fact, well enough that both of these politicians desperately fought to keep LMISD in it's current run down condition AND under it's poor leadership, however the rest of us are now perfectly content with the children of LMISD now headed towards being PROPERLY educated by TCISD.

Edna Courville, you and your ilk just need to FINALLY to go away. We fought long and hard to get rid of y'all and WE finally succeeded, so just take what you ALL earned and deserve and move on..... [yawn][sleeping]

Walter Manuel

I failed to mention previously that the new lawyers, interim superintendent, as well as. the new LMISD board of managers has a duty and an obligation to report their findings to the Galveston County DA's office of any possible criminal wrong doing by the former LMISD board of trustees, as well as, former Superintendent Terri L. Watkins.

The former board of trustees from Beaumont, as well as, El Paso didn't just get their hands slapped for what they illegally did, nor should LMISD taxpayers expect to see that the ousted LMISD board members and former superintendent are allowed to NOT be held accountable for their own actions.

The new LMISD board of managers, as well as, superintendent are just as guilty of wrong doing if they uncover ANYTHING that was done "illegally" by the former LMISD board of trustees, as well as former superintendent and they fail to turn it over to the DA's office so that it can be presented to the grand jury for possible criminal charges being filed against everyone who knowingly did wrong.

Some people may not want to throw these people under the bus for what they did, but the taxpayers of LMISD expect much more from those now running the district.....[whistling]

Ron Shelby

Maybe the project was stalled because LMISD was in such terrible trouble that the builder would have problems selling homes to families with children as long as they had to go to LMISD. Why would you want to send your kids to a failing district? Even if you could work out a way to send your kids elsewhere while living there, then why would you want to send your money to a failing district that your kids didn't attend?

Nope. Pretty clear that the LMISD was the real problem here.

Mike Trube

It's amazing how they keep paddling up the river of denial. And has she so quickly forgotten all the help offered by city officials and were told "it's none of your business, when we want your help we will ask for it"? And how the PD did help with security for awhile, anyway. It just amazes me how a group of people can screw up so badly, and keep placing the blame on others for their downfall. Is she going to blame TCISD for the deportable conditions of the school buildings? Is she going to blame TCISD for lack of equipment and enough employees in the maintenance department for not doing the necessary repairs and upkeep? Is she going to blame TCISD for the lack of adequate reading material in the classrooms in order for students to get the information needed to pass those state tests? Whose at fault for not supplying the iPads to certain classrooms? What planet does she live on?? Does she really think that by writing this article that she is going to gain support from anyone other than the Rev's group? I think a lot of people have really had their eyes opened by the facts of really what has taken place. That could be told by the number of students that enrolled elsewhere to get the education they weren't getting here in La Marque and you can't blame the parents for doing the only thing they could do for their kids. We've already seen a difference in leadership with the new board of managers. And I hope they will call for a forensic audit. That should uncover everything that's been hidden. Can not wait till July 1st. It can't come quick enough.


Carlos Ponce

Edna, you are only fooling yourself. The cover is gone and what the citizens of La Marque see isn't pretty. AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Facilities are in bad shape, no new books for classrooms and libraries, poor STAAR results in High school, Junior High and Elementary all under your so called leadership. HAVE YOU NO SHAME? And what do you offer? The SAME OLD RHETORIC!. "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME." I'm sorry, but it's NOT about you, It's about the children. You have robbed the children of La Marque of a proper education and much needed funding, wasting it on your lawyer fiend.You should be applauding the efforts made by TEA and TCISD and slip quietly into the background and forget about YOUR EGO! Now, DO THE RIGHT THING!

Gary Scoggin

As a longtime resident of TCISD who has been following this closely, I can say that the ONLY reason this taxpayer wants the districts to combine is for the sake of the poor children in La Marque who have gone so poorly served for years. Financially, this is probably a bad deal for TCISD, but it's in the best interests of our community, especially our children.

People like Ms. Courville, can come up with all the plots and conspiracy theories they want but they can't cover up their long time irresponsibility and the disservice they have done to a generation of kids and families. I consider them now to be irrelevant to this conversation except perhaps when we see the results of what I hope will be a spirited grand jury investigation.

Gary Scoggin

Ron Shelby ..... I think you hit the nail on the head about the developer's motivation. Why build houses you can't sell?

George Croix

It's always somebody else's fault.
Sounds very familiar....

Walter Manuel

I love the way Edna recognized LMISD as a "marginalized school district".

Why didn't she just come right out and say "African American" school district when that's obviously what she was alluding to?

There's a perfect excuse for everything wrong in life, but there's no excuse for anyone to stand around and undeniably support it. [yawn]

Mike Meador

............THE REAL REASON Mrs. Courville.........What did TCISD do that was illegal? They met in closed sessions with the school attorney, and one of the topics were to "discuss" a proposition of annexing property that would help the district. Absolutely nothing wrong with talking with the school attorney. You know that with as many times that you met with LM's attorney behind closed doors.

You want the reader to think there may be a conspiracy going on, and let me list who you think may be involved:
1. money seekers - no names identified
2. leaders of our communities - no names identified
3. Chambers of Commerce members - no names identified
4. assistance of members of GDN staff - no names identified
5. the silence of our community - no names identified
6. city officials - no names identified
7. TEA - no names identified

All these were involved with the demise of La Marque ISD? Everybody but God was in the list.

The only names you can identified are Superintendent Lusignalo of TCISD and the partner who wants to develop the land in question, Craig Mallery - neither of which have done anything wrong.

Over 900 + students left LMISD over the last three years.

That was the ONE question you didn't answer in you commentary.........NOT the "psycho-conspiracy" you've thought up.

Walter Manuel

Very well said Mr. Meador [thumbup]

It's so much easier for the former board members and their supporters to blame people without faces or names, rather than personally own what they did to LMISD themselves.

Jack Cross

I have firsthand knowledge about this and the only truth is that the developer did not want to build in the La Marque School district. Most all of this large track of land on both sides of the loop from Moses Bayou to Texas Ave and from Hwy 146 to Hyw 3 is owned by the Kofelt estate. They put in their will that they wanted to build a upscale community including homes around the TC Golf course. TCISD can not change their boundaries, can you imagine an uproar that would be in LaMarque ISD. Common sense should tell you that TC voters would never willingly vote to annex LMISD if it came to that. LMISD was closed because it failed.

School districts have a huge impact on the cities where they are located because families are concerned about where their kids go to school. Ms Courville, you and your friends please stop fighting this, you can’t win. TCISD needs your support not constant attacks. Your board has lost the confidence of the students who fled LMISD, the State education board and the public. It is time to stop playing the blame game. South Galveston County school districts are struggling with being out of balance with students from poor families and Hispanic immigrants. The one thing TCISD needs is new home development and public support. If you truly care for the kids get on board and let the developers know that we are together and will offer a good school district where kids are the real winners where they can learn, where they can learn a trade at the new state of the art industrial trade school that TCISD is building. Where TCISD high school students can get a 2 year step up on a college degree right here at home at COM. College of the Mainland is a huge asset for this community. TC & LM have a lot to offer; only we can hold it back. Please don’t put blocks in front of these students, help build TCISD and let the fight be between the La Marque Tigers and the Texas City Stingarees in the battle of the Bay.
Nothing is going to changes except better schools and better grades.

Walter Manuel

Very well said Mr. Cross, " let the fight be between the La Marque "Cougars" and the Texas City Stingarees in the battle of the Bay".

I can't blame the developer for one minute for not wanting to invest that much money into building an upscale subdivision and not being able to sell it because of it's failing school district.

It's really ironic how just the other day while looking at FaceBook, I saw the old "made for FaceBook video" of ousted board President Nakisha Paul addressing the LM city council and bragging about just how well "my board" is doing and how students test scores have increased and surpassed everyone's expectations while under their leadership, how their finances were better than ever before, etc, etc, etc.

I wonder how long it took Ms. Paul to wipe all of the egg off of her face once the REAL truth finally came out and they were ALL finally exposed?? [beam][beam]

Gary Scoggin

Well said, Jack.

Mike Box

As a disinterested observer who knows nothing of the inside details of this mess, I think Edna argued the opposition's case for them. People will pay more for the same house in a good school district, and they will not move into a bad one. The word gets out, and developers will go elsewhere. If Lamarque's district was so bad that no one wanted to move there it clearly needed to be fixed for the kids as well as for the future of the city. Perfectly legitimate in my mind for a developer to try to improve the value of his investment as long as the meetings weren't illegal.

Robert Buckner

I really do not think anybody wanted to see LMISD be absorbed by another entity. But our failure to have competent folks to run for the board positions led to the ISD's downward spiral to the point the TEA had no other solution or option. So Edna you can now blame the voters for your failures. I am a voter and I'll take the blame[beam]

Jack Cross

Here is waht ms Courville left out of her article - There has been very good people to run and serve on the La Marque school Board. They run them off or defeat them at elections, because this board was about them, not the kids, not the community.
Mable Pratt ran in 2013 and they elected instead Shirley Fanuiel who the grand jury indited for theft. The even after that, this board kept her on the board. You read this and you will see that Mable Pratt
Saw all this coming several years ago. But this board refused to listen and just kept driving LMISD down, dowm,down.
This is in 2013 - Mable Pratt, a longtime former school board member of La Marque Independent School District, wants back on the school board to help raise the standards of student achievement and bolster the reputation of the district.
"I would like to help put La Marque back in good standing with the Texas Education Agency," said Pratt, a former educator. "I would like for our students and community to be proud of our district."
A former elementary school teacher and administrator, Pratt, 69, served on the La Marque school board from 1982 until 1994, before stepping down to pursue her career in school administration.
She said when she left, the student population was healthy, trustees worked together and the district was in good financial shape with a reserve for emergencies.
The district has since been beset with problems, from issues related to poor student performance - the district was saddled with an unacceptable rating in 2011 - and the resignation last month of Superintendent Ecomet Burley and abrupt resignation of trustee Joe Cantu.
If elected, Pratt pledged to serve the educational needs of the students, work with the next superintendent for the good of students and revisit the district's mission statement.
"I feel my knowledge of what successful schools look like will be helpful," she said. "A vote for me is a vote for change, and I will trust the superintendent that is hired to run the district and promote his plans after careful review."
Retired since 2010, Pratt taught at a private Catholic school in Galveston ISD and later Pasadena ISD, where she served as principal of McMasters Elementary School for 16 years. She said she is proud of her record of attaining recognized and exemplary ratings during her tenure.

Pratt spent 41 years in education and I love seeing students becoming the best they can be in this 21st century I was a successful school administrator for 25 years in Pasadena ISD and I was the principal of an exemplary/recognized school for 16 years which was 85% at-risk students!
I was president of the Association of School Boards, Gulf Coast Area 1989. And lastly, I was a trainer of school board members, for Region IV (1994-1995)
Dropping enrollment and decreasing state funding. Board members not allowing the superintendent to do his job effectively. Poor communication with community organizations and business groups.

When Coommissioner Williams needed to appoint new board members, he turned to community leaders for recommendations. The late Jimmy Hayley recommended Mable Pratt who is now one of the board of managers. Here is Commissioner Williams statement about Mable Pratt – An educator with more than four decades of experience, Pratt’s years of service in public education include more than a decade on the La Marque ISD Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1994. Pratt is an honorary life member of the Texas Parent Teacher Association.

Walter Manuel

Mr. Cross, not only did the voters of LMISD have the opportunity to elect Mable Pratt that year, they also had the opportunity to elect Jacques Bell who ran in Mrs. Cynthia Bell Malveaux's seat after she decided that she had enough of the mess that the board was needlessly creating in order to somehow find a way to rehire their friend Russel Washington who was fired from the district.

Mr. Bell is well versed to the laws governing school districts and public education, but instead the voters elected Russel Washington's best friend from high school and college, Stacy Crawford who knew absolutely nothing about running a school district except that he would have the voting power needed to rehire Russel.

We'll see at the end of the month if the Texas Attorney General finds in my favor that LMISD indeed has to release Russel Washington's final settlement where we will probably learn that the former board members agreed to rehire Russel as the districts' police chief as part of his settlement agreement even after the fact that they disbanded their own police department and EVEN after Russel unsuccessfully sued the LMISD for $10 million dollars.

The people of LMISD voted with their feet and can't blame no one but themselves for helping to close LMISD.[sad]

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