By Travis Gumphrey
EMBATTLED La Marque schools superintendent Terri Watkins threw in the towel on Friday and resigned after being told the state had denied the district’s appeal against its failure of a financial test.
Her move and the reason for it caused immediate dismay among the district’s board of trustees, with member Terry Pettijohn calling it a “sad day for LMISD”.
And Watkins, above, who has been at the district just two years and is credited with turning around its previously poor academic record, gave every indication that she will be defiant to the end of her tenure.
“This team had the misfortune of cleaning up processes and procedures from the past,” she said.
“However, those in the future will reap the benefit of all the work that has been done to improve the operation of our district.”
The state’s denial of the district’s appeal came in a letter dated Wednesday, just one day after state education commissioner Michael Williams had visited the district while considering the appeal, which Watkins and other district officials presented in Austin on Monday.
Signed by TEA financial compliance division director David Marx, the letter said the district’s financial integrity rating for the 2014-15 school year remained “substandard” achievement” and could not be appealed further under Texas law.
Under the rating’s provisions, Williams is expected to appoint a new board of managers, including a stand-in superintendent, to run the district, effectively leaving Watkins with no option other than to jump before being pushed.
Unbowed as she announced her decision to leave when the current semester ends on December 18, the former Texas City ISD official said she is proud that La Marque ISD students have met the academic standards set by the Texas education agency during her time in charge.
“I have dedicated the past 24 months working alongside the board of trustees to improve the quality of education we provide to the children in our community,” she said.
“Our children were given the challenge to reach specified goals set, and they answered all the critics as to their academic abilities.”