AP NEWS

Kirbyville schools supe will remain through year’s end

May 18, 2019

Kirbyville CISD Superintendent Tommy Wallis, whose resignation was approved by the school board Thursday night, will remain employed with the district through Dec. 31, trustee Chad George said Friday, offering the first details on the controversial educator’s negotiated departure.

George, the board president, described Wallis’ exit as a retirement that he had been mulling for a few weeks. He also said Wallis will step aside from the superintendent’s duties on May 31 but will continue to work through the end of the year to help his successor.

“He did a good job in the district. He was a cheerleader for the students and he was very visible to those in the district,” George said. “He had a rough time when he was here and I’m sure those incidents had an effect on him.”

Donna Morgan, secretary to the superintendent, said a public information request would be required to obtain any documents about Wallis’ retirement terms or any potential severance package. The Enterprise’s formal request was not granted on Friday.

Morgan said Wallis was the only person authorized to release those documents and he was out of the office until Monday.

State law gives public entities up to 10 days to release information if they need time to track it down.

When asked for comment at the end of Thursday’s board meeting, Wallis replied, “Nice try, no way,” and rushed out. Calls to his cell phone went unanswered on Thursday and Friday.

Getting details from other trustees, who adjourned the meeting without elaborating on terms or agreements, also has proved difficult.

Trustee Chad Wiggins said final details have not been finalized.

“The letter of retirement from Dr. Wallis has been approved but it has not been signed and officially documented,” he said. “That process can take anywhere from seven to 10 days.”

George said Wallis has seven days to “back out” of the agreement or negotiate changes.

When contacted by an Enterprise reporter Friday, board president Joey Davis said, “I don’t feel like I should talk about it when I am being paid at work. The board is something I do outside of work so I don’t think I should talk about it when I’m working.” He did not call back afterward.

Trustees Joani Burchett, Clint Smith and Lynell Horn did not return calls.

Jerry Brewster, who taught at Kirbyville CISD for 51 years, said calls for greater transparency there go unheeded.

“I have spoken to the board before on several occasions. They didn’t listen then and they aren’t listening now,” he said.

Brewster was an outspoken member of Community for Change, a group that formed following the death of Kirbyville High School principal Dennis Reeves on May 23, 2017.

Reeves shot himself in his pickup in the high school parking lot less than an hour after he was confronted by Wallis and Assistant Superintendent Georgia Sayers about an alleged affair with a district employee.

Wallis and 12 others were named in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed two months ago by Reeves’ family.

Wallis was hired in Kirbyville six months after he was forced to resign from Bryan ISD, where he was accused of creating “an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment” and forcing employees to “work under distress,” according to documents subsequently released there.

According to data from the Texas Education Agency, Wallis’ base pay for the current school year is $152,595.

awhitney@jaspernewsboy.com