AP NEWS

Kirbyville superintendent resigns; School Board declines to say why

May 17, 2019

The Kirbyville CISD School Board on Thursday approved the resignation of the district’s controversial superintendent, then adjourned without providing any details about why or what terms they had agreed to.

Superintendent Tommy Wallis left the meeting without comment.

“Nice try, no way,” he said when questioned by a reporter.

The board members similarly rushed from the meeting. They had spent 36 minutes in executive session, then voted to accept Wallis’ request for retirement without any discussion. They were gone within a minute of adjourning the brief public phase of the meeting.

Wallis and board member Joey Davis did not return phone calls afterward seeking more details. Superintendent’s secretary Donna Morgan said she would not release anything before receiving a formal public information request.

Morgan said earlier Thursday that she and others within the district were notified about Wallis’ plans to retire about one week ago. As of Thursday afternoon, she said, there were no plans in place to hire a new superintendent and that board members must “take care of several things before that can happen.”

Wallis has been an object of controversy since his arrival at Kirbyville CISD three years ago. He was hired six months after he was forced to resign as superintendent of Bryan ISD.

Documents released to the Enterprise last year claimed he created “an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment” in Bryan, forcing employees to “work under distress.” Four administrators outlined more than a dozen alleged violations of his contract, state standards and the district’s ethics code.

Those documents were not available earlier because Wallis had sued in 2017 to keep his records private.

Then in March of this year, a wrongful-death lawsuit was filed against Wallis and 12 other defendants following the May 23, 2017, suicide of high school principal Dennis Reeves.

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’ contract with the district began on April 1, 2017, and runs through June 30, 2020.

According to data from the Texas Education Agency, he earned a base pay of $152,595 for the 2018-19 school year, an increase of about $23,000 from his initial salary.

Mark Meredith, a parent who is active in the district and attended Thursday’s meeting, expressed his dismay afterward.

“I want to see a complete overhaul of the way things are done in this district,” Meredith said. “I want to see more transparency, I want our officials to be accountable.”

awhitney@jaspernewsboy.com