A group of 50 to 60 people gathered along the street near the Humble ISD Administration Building Tuesday evening to draw attention to their efforts. A Facebook group, called Humble ISD Parents, was formed last week following the announcement May 24 of Dr. Elizabeth Celania-Fagen as the board's pick for the next district superintendent. One week later, dozens were holding up signs and asking questions.
Numerous negative comments were posted on the district's website in response to the official announcement there, from residents in Douglas County School District in Colorado, where Fagen last served as superintendent. Sweeping changes in that district left many parents and teachers upset, according to their comments, and the Humble ISD Parents group claims they just want answers.
John Gillespie, the group's spokesman, said he taught in Humble ISD for 14 years. He said he loves the district, the teachers and the students, and the group is concerned about what kind of changes might be in store for the district.
“Why did they choose such a controversial candidate?” he asked.
Among the concerns those at the rally expressed was the market-based pay scale implemented in Douglas County.
“Teachers are terrified,” said Tammy Thomas. Under that plan, Thomas said, “teachers are pitted against teachers because only a certain number of them can get 'highly effective,'” or the best ranking for the best pay.
Thomas is a local Realtor, but said her concerns are not about that.
“I'm doing this for the kids, not the property values,” she said.
Another in attendance said she was concerned about the board's motive for choosing Fagen.
"I have five grandchildren that will be going through the school district, and when this all started we elected the school board, we let them do their job … I am hoping I can regain some of my faith in them," said Arlene Horman, a retired Humble ISD teacher.
Another parent questioned Fagen's loyalty in staying with a district.
"She hasn't completed a contract at any district. She's gone from Arizona to Colorado. Why is she going from state to state? What about our money? Why didn't we get a say?” said Celica Monegan.
Fagen was superintendent in an Arizona school district just prior to taking the job in Douglas County. She resigned that position two years into a three-year contract. According to several articles written at the time, lack of funding and controversy surrounding the closing of some schools with low attendance were among the issues she faced there.
Fagen's contract in Douglas County was renewed last July and was set to continue through June 30, 2020, automatically renewing each July 1 until that date, according to a copy of the contract found at douglascountyfederation.com.
Rally participants said that although their questions, emails, phone calls, etc., so far remain unanswered, they are hopeful to know more next week.
The district has scheduled a special board meeting for June 8 at 6 p.m. in the Board Room of the Administration Building. The agenda states that the meeting's purpose is for a “board presentation and public hearing regarding procedures and personnel policy as it relates to the search for and naming of a lone finalist” for the district's superintendent.
Many at the rally said they plan to sign up to speak at the meeting and hope to get answers to their questions.
Fagen is expected to officially be named as the new superintendent at the June 14 regular board meeting, 21 days after the initial announcement.
“Those 21 days are not just a formality,” said Thomas. “It's there for a reason … it's for gathering information.”
Controversial choice named as Humble ISD lone finalist: http://ourtribune.com/article.php?id=20303
Concerned residents start petition to stop the hiring of Humble's new superintendent finalist: http://ourtribune.com/article.php?id=20308
Humble ISD School Board selects lone finalist for superintendent: http://www.ourtribune.com/article.php?id=20307
New pick for superintendent causes stir, action by parents: ourtribune.com/article.php?id=20346
Fagen's tenure at Tucson's Unified School District cut short http://www.ourtribune.com/article.php?id=20382