TEA Findings

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DeSoto ISD School Community:

As a Board, we have worked hard to ensure the absolute best for our students, staff and families. We understand that the last few years have been difficult and, at times, hard to endure. With each step along our journey, we have worked to uncover, correct and improve any areas of our school system as those concerns were made clear to us as a governing body.

Along this journey, we’ve faced many harsh realities and we want to apologize for those experiences; however, you, as our community, have trusted us to right the wrongs of the past. We value and will always consider and incorporate the concerns, needs and desires of our stakeholders as well as our relationship with the community as elected officials charged with ensuring the quality, fidelity and accountability of our school district, its employees and those we serve.

With this in mind, we desire to remain transparent regarding recent major developments in the DeSoto Independent School District.

Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees alongside district administrators were made aware of the Texas Education Agency’s intent to launch an investigation to review several concerns which primarily occurred in the district prior to 2018. The Board has since worked collaboratively with the Texas Education Agency to be proactive and responsive to this review. 

The TEA reviewed the district’s financial management practices including management of the district’s 2005 bond issue, the district’s handling of proceeds from the 2015 Tax Ratification Election and issues related to governance and academic performance.

The TEA’s intent, given the outcome of the investigation and subsequent findings, include the recommendation of a district conservator. 

In 2019, the district’s financial management rating was an F according to its last FIRST Financial Rating. However, as a result of the district taking action and making some difficult decisions during the 2018-2019 school year, the district was notified this month that rating has been raised to a C.

It is also important to note that DeSoto ISD worked to improve its academic accreditation from a D in 2018 to a 79, or C in 2019--one point shy of elevating the district to a B rating for academic achievement.

Since the time of the activity under review by the TEA, DeSoto ISD’s Board and administrative teams have shifted with the election of new board members and the appointment of a new superintendent and other executive level administrators who played key roles in uncovering some of the district’s past issues and designing and implementing corrective action for improved future positioning. 

Under new administrative leadership, DeSoto ISD has been proactive and responsive to many of the concerns raised by the TEA even prior to the agency’s investigation. 

The current Board of Trustees and Superintendent D’Andre J. Weaver, Ph.D., DeSoto ISD have implemented the following academic achievement related improvements:

  • Establishment of school leadership oversight and support structures to provide coaching, training and professional development to principals and campus instructional leaders resulting in two campus administrators’ recognition as Principal of the Year in education-focused professional organizations.
  • Establishment and implementation of a teacher-focused support structure designed to align scope and sequence of content across grade levels and opportunities for coaching, feedback and professional development to enhance teachers’ instructional acumen and pedagogy.
  • Identification, design and implementation of targeted and job-embedded professional development for instructional staff and leadership.
  • Most recently, the district’s Anytime, Anywhere Learning system, a virtual learning framework designed out of the district’s crisis response to remote learning needs during Covid-19 was one of four plans from districts across the state recognized as an exemplar by the TEA for re-entry design planning and implementation.

In addition, under the current Board of Trustees and Superintendent D’Andre J. Weaver, Ph.D., DeSoto ISD has implemented the following financial management related improvements:

  • Board-commissioned forensic audit. 
  • Lone Star Governance training and Team of Eight training to improve communication, collaboration and engagement between board and administration with focus on jurisdiction of governance.
  • Establishment of oversight committees for finance, policy and other areas of district operations requiring more in-depth oversight and management.
  • At July 28, 2020, special called meeting of the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, the Board approved and named Dr. Hooper the district’s Board-appointed conservator in a proactive response to the preliminary concerns raised by TEA in a preliminary report of the investigation’s findings. (Given TEA’s published findings, it is unclear whether Hooper will remain the district’s conservator.)
  • Increased internal controls which include but are not limited to:
    • The district has communicated clear and stringent expectations and guidelines regarding the use, access and approval of district resources and travel.
    • The district has recalled all employee-issued credit cards. 
    • The district has implemented a more rigorous process for purchasing and travel approvals including the implementation of a district-wide purchase order process which requires documentation regarding the educational justification and approval of any intended purchases.

Through these actions, the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees and the district’s administrative team have worked to address the concerns of the TEA prior to and during the agency’s investigation. DeSoto ISD is committed to repositioning the district for a more fiscally-sound and strong future for students, staff and community.

As required by the TEA, DeSoto ISD will host a virtual town hall in the coming weeks regarding the agency’s published findings. More information regarding that meeting will be forthcoming.

As more information becomes available related to this matter, the Board will continue to share and communicate as appropriate regarding future developments in the DeSoto Independent School District.

Karen Daniel
Board President
eSoto ISD Board of Trustees