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NFISD board of trustees sidesteps Simpson appeal

By BOBBY HORN JR.
While it came as little surprise that Dr. James Simpson would appeal his March 8 firing as North Forest ISD superintendent, the method by which the board was able to avoid meeting with Simpson and presumably avoid any future meeting did come as a shock.
At their April 23 meeting the board voted 4-3 not to reinstatement him as superintendent. They did, however, vote to allow Simpson to meet at a later date with the board.
The board reconvened on April 30 in a special called meeting for the sole purpose of hearing the appeal. Before Simpson could lay out his case to the board the meeting was cancelled.
Yvonne Taylor, attorney for the board, said that she planned to call at witnesses the four trustees who voted against Simpson in March: Barbara Gaston, Charles Taylor Sr., Maxine Lane-Seals and T. Marie McCall.
Gaston, who serves as board president, said that since they were now considered witnesses they were required to leave the room due to district policy.

With the four trustees gone, the board no longer held a quorum or the necessary number of board members required to conduct business. With the quorum broken the board, under the Texas Open Meeting Law, was required to adjourn.
In June Simpson is scheduled to meet with an independent examiner to explain his case. The examiner would then make a recommendation to the board, which has the final say in the matter.
Simpson says that he was fired in retaliation for an investigation into NFISD police officer Gerald Eagleton. Eagleton was formerly related by marriage to Taylor.
The board fired Eagleton last month following an investigation by the Harris County D.A’s office, which found inappropriate images downloaded onto a computer which Eagleton had access to at Smiley High. Before coming to North Forest, Eagleton worked at Texas Southern University as a security officer. While employed there pornographic images were found on a computer he had access to as well. Eagleton had denied the charges, saying other officers also access to the Smiley computer.
The board contends that Simpson’s firing was due to a loss in confidence in his ability and allegations that he lied to the board and ignored their directions.
During the past few years controversy has surrounded the district concerning not only the police department but accounted for FEMA funds and allegations of TAKS manipulation.