IISD School Board votes to censure one of its own

In another narrow vote, trustee Steven Jones, accused of interfering in day-to-day district operations, was censured at an April 1 Irving Independent School Board meeting.

The board voted 4-3 for the censure. Board President Ronda Huffstetler and trustees Valerie Jones, Jerry Christian and Gwen Craig voted in favor and trustees Steven Jones, Larry Stipes and Gail Condor Wells voted against.

“I have done exactly what I said I would do during my campaign,” Steven said. “These attempts to assassinate my character with baseless allegations will not deter my determination in keeping a stronghold on administrative spending and increasing student achievement.”

There are no legal consequences associated with the vote.

The resolution brought by Huffstetler and Valerie Jones said Steven Jones violated the board’s policy and ethics code. Huffstetler is also working to ask the Texas Education Agency to look into Jones’ actions.

“Our role is to govern and to set policy and hold the superintendent accountable,” Valerie Jones said. “Our role is not to manage or run the school district.

“I have become increasingly frustrated watching ego and agenda be put before our children,” she added. “Children are no longer coming first when board members attempt to wrest control from the superintendent.”

According to the resolution, Jones has engaged in micromanagement of administrative matters … threaten(ed) to terminate the employment contracts of several administrative employees, call(ed) newly hired employees, attempt(ed) to influence the decisions of the ad-ministration and has made disparaging comments to staff.

The resolution also said that Jones told administrative staff to forbid staff from speaking Spanish in schools.

According to emails, newly hired district employees contacted Superintendent Dana Bedden to relay phone calls they had received from Jones about their roles. Other e-mails say Jones made “hostile” calls to WIN, a college and workforce readiness system.

Jones, however, said that while he did make the phone calls, the “distorted” emails to Bedden were written in cooperation with those board members who dislike him.

The board has been divided leading up to May’s election. In March, Norma Gonzales, who has said she is not confident in the current administration, is running unopposed for a position on the school board.

With Gonzales’ support, the board could form a majority of trustees who are critical of the district’s leadership and direction.

“We will have a conservative majority on this board beginning May 20,” Steven said. “The new board will be focused like a laser beam on achievement. Our focus will no longer be PR and spin.

“Each student in the Irving school district should have the opportunity to succeed at her and his highest potential,” he added.

About the Author

Amanda Casanova
Amanda Casanova primarily covers Irving and Coppell city halls for “The Rambler.” Previously, she has worked for “The Galveston County Daily News,” “The Houston Chronicle,” “The Abilene Reporter-News” and “The Lufkin Daily News.” She also served as the editor-in-chief of Texas A&M University’s newspaper, “The Battalion.”