SocraticGadfly: Larry Lewis on way out from Lancaster ISD

November 18, 2008

Larry Lewis on way out from Lancaster ISD

The smooth-talking but controversial superintendent is the target of termination by the Lancaster School Board.

The technical language is in the hyperlinked area because the Lancaster School Board did not actually fire Lewis Nov. 17, but instead approved a motion to send Lewis a notice of intent to terminate his contract.

In addition to both the real and not-so-real complaints of Lancaster School Board President Carolyn Morris that prompted her to get the board to hire Harold Jones of the law firm Anderson Jones to investigate Lewis, that investigation found new concerns.

Chief among those was a payday advance program, with Anderson Jones finding promissory notes for at least 10 such advances.

Technically, paycheck advances are loans, and that’s against Texas Education Agency regulations.

Second, and relevant to Morris’ concern about how Lewis handled board copies of a TEA audit mailed to his care this spring was the revelation that he never gave board members copies of a preliminary version of the TEA audit, which would seem to be a clear violation of board policy. And, he had received the preliminary audit just days before the board in place in March voted to extend his contract.

Once Lewis officially gets written notice of his termination, he has 15 days to appeal.

Lewis, when hired five and a half years ago, made grandiose projections about what he would do in five years, stuff not likely even with Joe Stalin administering a USSR Five-Year Plan.

Not even made words from the Lord could help Lewis accomplish that. (Nor could they amplify his own not-inconsiderable persuasive powers to try to charm me the first time we met in spring 2003.)

That said, while Lewis brought a fair amount of his own trouble, once Morris became board president, this was bound to happen. It’s unfortunately TEA conservator James Damm has limited powers. (James, now that you’ll be in the middle of the rugby scrums between Morris and Ed Kirkland, I’d buy stock in Advil.)

As for the belief that Lancaster ISD now has nowhere to go but up, I wouldn’t bet in favor of that if you gave me 10-1 odds. Sadly.

That’s especially true if the Perot family seduces Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and others, to kill the inland port and Dallas Logistics Hub.

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