An East Texas school board may have violated district policy with a decision some parents are calling “blatant nepotism.”

During a special school board meeting last week, the Neches Independent School District board of trustees supported a decision by Superintendent Randy Snider in relation to the employment of Principal Kimberlyn Snider, his wife.

On February 2, Kimberlyn Snider, a Neches elementary school principal, turned herself in to the Anderson County sheriff after being indicted by a grand jury for tampering with physical evidence in an investigation of sexual assault of a child. She was also charged with five counts of official oppression. 

During the meeting, the board determined they had no authority to place a principal on administrative leave, adding in a statement released after the meeting, “The superintendent bears that responsibility.”

We supervise only one employee, and that is the superintendent of schools.

 

Mr. Snider has elected to retain Mrs. Snider in her position of campus principal because he believes that to be in the best interest of Neches ISD. We oversee Mr. Snider’s decision making and can affirm that we join him in his assessment.

This statement seems to be in direct violation of state law and the board’s own policy.  

According to Texas Education Code, if the board gives the superintendent sole power to hire at-will employees, then the superintendent may not hire or fire their spouse. That authority would revert to the board to hire contract employees. 

Even in non-conflict of interest cases, the district’s own policy states, “The Superintendent has sole authority to make recommendations to the Board regarding the selection of contractual personnel. The Board retains final authority for employment of contractual personnel.”

In its statement, the board said Superintendent Snider’s decision was not made in haste but with “significant deliberation and consideration.”

Some parents in the district believe nepotism is at the root of this issue. 

“Nepotism definitely played a part in the decision to allow the Principal to remain at her post,” said Kaitlin Scroggins, an administrator of the Facebook page Change for Neches.

“In fact, this Facebook page was created 7 years ago to fight the same issues we are facing today,” Scroggins said. “Blatant nepotism, abuse of power, no accountability, bullying of children and the general disregard for what parents want.”

Scroggins said this is an ongoing issue Neches ISD parents have dealt with. 

“The parents at NISD feel as though they are helpless after years of complaints and grievances that ultimately go nowhere,” she said. “Ultimately, they want to see Mrs. Snider placed on leave and demand an investigation into the nepotism violations that have occurred at the school district for nearly two decades.”

Tampering with evidence with intent to impair its usability in an investigation is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.

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