CISD Board of Trustees censures Cervin

A contentious meeting of the Comal Independent School District's Board of Trustees at Mountain Valley School in Sattler on Thursday, December 16, ended with the board voting to publicly censure board member Rose Cervin for unethical conduct.

According to the board's statement, "Rose Cervin has disclosed sensitive information from a closed door session to others, including the general public and the media. These disclosures have made closed meeting discussions between the board members extremely difficult, and continuing to do so will be detrimental to the students and staff of Comal ISD."

"Many of the issues reserved for closed session deal with sensitive employee issues, and continuation of the unethical disclosures may result in potential liability to the district and erode employee moral. Finally, these disclosures distract the board from the continuing business of the district, which is to further the education of the children."

For her part, Cervin accuses the board of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. The act decrees that all votes be made in public, even when discussion is held in closed session. In a letter published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung she said the board privately had held illegal voting November 18 for the three candidates vying for the seat vacated when Nick Nichols recently resigned.

Earlier at the December 16 meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new 12-page document covering new rules of conduct for the body. It states, in part, "information discussed in closed session must remain confidential." Prior to the vote, Cerwin requested and received a modification to include a phrase stating that the new rules would be subordinated to state and federal law. Fellow board members acquiesced although some felt the addition unnecessary.

The Texas Open Meetings Act, a so-called 'sunshine' law, is clear on when a closed session may be utilized. The CISD board cites the accepted reasons for a closed session in its published agenda. However, there has in the past been public criticism of the number and length of such closed door sessions, as well as the actions taken publicly after them when many in attendance have left. The one held December 16 was over two hours in length.

Cervin was not a part of that meeting, having left some twenty minutes into it, apparently reacting to the potential censure. It is unclear whether the censure will result in legal action between the parties.

The Comal ISD Board of Trustees includes: Acting President Dan K. Krueger, Charles Burt, Bill Swint, John Bertelsen, Rose Cervin, Laura Kistner, and Appointee Mark Smith.

In other action that evening, the Board honored the winner and finalists for the KENS-5 ExCEL Teacher of the Year. Winner Melanie Taylor joined finalists Joanne Flores, Frances Walker, Bryon Gardner, Chris Nisley and Steve Foster for board and public recognition.

Also honored were 10 Comal ISD schools achieving "exemplary" or "recognized" under the state's accountability system. Exemplary schools were Specht Elementary and Rahe Bulverde Elementary. Recognized schools were Comal Elementary, Hoffman Lane Elementary, Rebecca Creek Elementary, Bill Brown Elementary, Goodwin Primary, Frazier Elementary, Arlon Seay Intermediate and Spring Branch Middle.

Representatives from Guadalupe Valley Telecommunications Cooperative (GVTC) were on hand to announce a $6,200 donation of landscaping to Specht Elementary. GVTC's Ola Armstrong made a presentation. The money is being used to purchase landscaping materials and plants for the front of Specht.

Trustee Laura Kistner revealed that her husband holds a position on the New Braunfels Infrastructure Improvement Corp. board. That board has recommended the acceptance of a developer's proposal for a $50 million hotel and convention center. The board reaffirmed her appointment to serve on the TIF Reinvestment Zone Board of Directors involved with the Mission Valley Mills project, believing the appointment would not be a conflict of interest since Kistner would not have authority to act on behalf of the school district.

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