By BOBBY HORN, JR.
Dr. James Simpson, the North Forest ISD superintendent who was fired in March is scheduled to be back on the job after a TEA ruling last week.
Last week Jeff Horner, an attorney and independent examiner working on behalf of the Texas Education Agency ordered the North Forest Board of Trustees to reinstate Simpson.
Horner said that in March, when the board voted 4-3 to terminate Simpsons contract they did so illegally. The board, he determined, did not provide Simpson with due process that is; they did not follow the proper procedures in terminating his contract. Specifically, the board did not notify Simpson is advance of the March 8 meeting that he could be fired. According to the post agenda, which is required for all open meetings, the board was scheduled to discuss and/or take action on Simpsons contract.
The North Forest ISD was ordered to return Simpson to his former post as well as pay his $35,000 in back salary.
Board President Barbara Gaston, who voted to fire Simpson, sent the superintendent a letter on March 13 explaining the boards vote.
The letter, Horner wrote in his ruling, came as some type of attempted after-the-fact due process. Horner also said the letter provided little specific connection between the areas of Simpsons alleged deficiencies and district policy.
Simpson has maintained that he was fired in retaliation for investigating allegations of illegal or improper activity against district police officer Gerald Eagleton.
Eagleton was formerly married to the sister of school board member Charles Taylor.
Gaston, however, said that Simpson not only failed to properly advise the board of a bomb threat at a district school and failed to timely notify the board regarding preliminary TAKS results but that the board had lost confidence in his ability to lead the district.
At the time of the firing, North Forest ISD was also under an investigation by the TEA. The school district, TEA said, had failed to account for some funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repairs following Tropical Storm Alison. The funds were discovered missing prior to Simpson coming to North Forest.
NFs Simpson reinstated by TEA
By BOBBY HORN, JR.