North Forest ISD superintendent fired amidst money mismanagement scandal

Friday, March 09, 2007

There are big changes coming in the North Forest Independent School District, which has been struggling for years with financial mismanagement. The school board voted last night to release the district's superintendent from his contract.

In a 4-3 decision last night, the board voted to get rid of District Superintendent James Simpson effective immediately. The move comes after state officials announced plans to place an outside financial manager in charge of the districts spending.

One board member says he voted for the superintendent's termination because he says Simpson shows a 'lack of respect and that he has lied and he kept things from the board'. He also cited 'low morale' and unacceptable student test scores as reasons for the termination. Eight of 11 schools are under-performing.

Now local leaders, parents and school officials say because of the change, they can now work to improve the district.

"As a former product of North Forest ISD, I stand here today for even those that are not here saying change can happen if we are given the chance to make it," said school advocate Paula Settles.

The auditors who are now in charge of the district's spending say they are not accusing any school officials of stealing money, but shoddy record keeping prevented them from knowing for sure if money was misspent.

At question is more than $10 million in federal aid. Simpson says the spending issues were in question before he was hired. He had a year remaining on his contract and he can appeal the board's decision.
(Copyright © 2007, KTRK-TV)

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