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Section A: General News


Editorial: When school districts lose their direction




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Pris Kincaid
Fellow Texans — Did You Know?
August 21, 2013 | 2,936 views | 26 comments

As a concerned retired teacher, I just cannot sit back and watch the malignancy growing in the Floresville Independent School District (ISD). I have always been proud of my affiliation with Floresville ISD, but it appears something has gone awry. Problems are not limited to just Floresville; other districts in the county have had their scandals and are still dealing with them. But, are you, my fellow citizens, aware of the shenanigans taking place right here under our noses?

In the past year up to the very present, there have been accusations of an abuse of power from the top leadership positions to include the school board, bullying tactics on different levels, unfair treatment of veteran teachers, and public drunkenness of a board member. Have we allowed Satan in the door?

During the June 17 Floresville ISD board meeting, allegations were made of unethical behavior by the superintendent and a board member. Citizens in our community asked for Dr. Hunkapiller’s resignation, and he has since resigned. During that same meeting, the school board president was accused of public drunkenness at a school baseball game, during which he was thrown out of the ballpark. In order to pass his own agenda, this same board member has also been accused of bullying tactics with other board members whose spouses were employed with the district.

These accusations were made also by firsthand witnesses and some were divulged by the personnel who were fed up with the abusive tactics to either get targeted people to resign or retire early. Bullying was used by the top administration to discourage speaking out if your opinion differed. Degrading changes were made to encourage disillusionment to push early retirement for the veteran teacher, and demotions were made to bring on resignations. These tactics have been utilized to transform key personnel and campus administrators into robotic images programmed to the mold of thinking “inside the box” as opposed to “outside the box.”

One example of a master teacher librarian who resigned from the district is Allison Shoemaker, whose husband, Doug Shoemaker, was on the school board and recently resigned. Allison has been outspoken in expressing the needs of running the two libraries she was in charge of at both elementary campuses. Under the previous superintendent, she was promised an aide at each library. However, Dr. Hunkapiller bullied her into silence and cut back on her help.

Allison, one of the finest in the district, transformed the libraries into magical jungle fantasy lands to inspire elementary children to love books. She provided lessons to classes, put on elaborate book fairs, and sponsored special days, inviting members of the community to attend and read to the students. As primary and elementary teachers know, it’s the exciting, colorful books that attract children and help turn them on to reading. I invite all citizens in this community to visit the south and north elementary campus libraries and see for yourself. What a loss to the district!

An aside here I want to point out is that we now have stepped backwards in time about 30-plus years, to when I first came to the district. We now have only one certified librarian in the entire district, at the high school. The middle school and elementary libraries will now be run by paraprofessionals.

An environment where the veteran master teacher must walk on eggshells and do what he/she is told or face the “ax” is crippling. To become a master teacher takes years of working in the classroom and understanding how children learn. It’s much more than just knowing the subject matter, but looking at the child holistically and developing that relationship.

Another example of a great loss to the district is Carole Aktines, who turned in her resignation also. She is a master teacher of 37 years with 28 years in Floresville. She was offered the job of math curriculum director and worked in that capacity for seven or eight years. She was pulled from the central office without question or explanation, placed in a storage closet on one elementary campus, and shared a classroom with a special education teacher on the other. She was to alternate between both campuses. Teachers loved her support, and many high school students she taught would see her and come running, thanking her for all she taught them. The message from the top administration was loud and clear -- she was made to feel her input was not needed. Carole, along with many others, was outspoken about curriculum -- her area -- but top administration did not want to hear it. What has happened to the respect and recognition of the veteran master teacher?

No wonder there has been a mass exodus of teachers, administrators, and other school personnel under this current regime -- the superintendent, his right-hand leadership people, and school board. Although Hunkapiller is gone, there remains a residual of his creating. Good reporting in the Aug. 14 Wilson County News disclosed 90 resignations and retirements in the past year. There are many examples of outstanding teachers who have left this hostile environment. What a shame!

Fellow citizens, these are red flags that give the suspicion that our district has lost its sense of direction!

The bottom line, my fellow citizens, is how can this not impact our children? The students should be our first priority. When it comes to providing education, formulating character, positive role modeling, and ensuring opportunities to become productive citizens, our public schools should be one of the most honorable influences, along with family and church, that we can count on in a child’s life.

In the school community, the classroom teacher is the most important force for providing the holistic needs of each student. A master veteran teacher is to be revered and given the freedom to make decisions that best implement those objectives for his/her students. It is the job of the administration -- from the superintendent, assistant superintendents, every director, all principals, counselors, and school board members -- to support those teachers to ensure the success of every student. When the superintendent, et al, lose focus of district goals to pursue their own agendas, all direction is lost, and we fail the students.

So, what can we do to improve the situation? First, we need honorable and upstanding candidates who care about the children in our community to run for the school board positions. Second, we need to get back to traditional values that reflect the core mission of the district. On Nov. 5, we will vote for school board trustees for Districts 2, 5, 6, and 7. We need to be informed, and start looking for new courageous members for our school board.

Pris Kincaid is a retired Texas educator who lives in Wilson County.
 

Your Opinions and Comments

 
James Rethaber  
Floresville, TX  
August 23, 2013 11:55am
 
@ Baseball Mom: I noticed a disturbing trend at the elementary level while I was at the "Meet the Teacher" event for my kinder and 4th grader. It wasn't the teachers/administrators who were stressing the importance ... More ›

 
Baseball Mom  
Floresville  
August 23, 2013 11:26am
 
After dealing with the middle school yesterday, I now feel that our children are not children/students to the teachers/administrators, they are just a test score. That test score is the only thing about my child that matters ... More ›

 
Small Town Girl  
Floresville  
August 23, 2013 10:55am
 
Pris, that is a good idea and please make sure that it is done. We need to hear from the candidates that are running, including those who currently hold those positions. Let's see if Mr. Bippert will answer questions about ... More ›

 
Pris  
Floresville  
August 22, 2013 6:51pm
 
Excellent! That is what we need - interest in our school district. My group of retired school personnel in Wilson County, WCRSP, are talking about sponsoring a public forum for those running. Hats off to those who plan to ... More ›

 
Proud Tiger  
Floresville  
August 22, 2013 2:42pm
 
Two people have actually registered.

 
Anonymously Anonymous  
Unknown  
August 22, 2013 2:30pm
 
Good. I'm glad to hear that there is interest in filling these spots. I appreciate the info.

 
County Watch Dog  
Wilson Co  
August 22, 2013 2:19pm
 
There has been 3 in each district. Should be interesting.

 
Airborne Trooper  
wilson cty  
August 22, 2013 1:40pm
 
Puzzled you are either one of those principals , married to one or good friends with one. I simply asked a question. Maybe you can tell me why. Don't get you Chones all tied up. Geez can't someone ask questions.

 
Anonymously Anonymous  
Unknown  
August 22, 2013 11:29am
 
Thank you for the info. Any word on how many, if any, will be running for these open/current positions?

 
B N Kilbey-Smith  
La Vernia, TX  
August 22, 2013 10:53am
 
The last day to file for a place on the ballot is Monday, Aug. 26, according to the Texas Secretary of State's website.

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