updated 7:28 PM UTC, Nov 21, 2019

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CISD votes to accept supt. resignation as written

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By Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees voted to accept the resignation of superintendent Angela Matterson, which ends her tenure with the district in June 2020, at its Monday night meeting.

Matterson’s status with CISD was on the regular agenda, in which the board went into closed session to discuss and decide whether to terminate her employment. Matterson is facing a driving under the influence charge from Colorado.

Following the arrest and allegation, she offered a resignation letter to the board, along with another letter addressed to all faculty and staff. The letter did not specify any one reason for her resignation but stated a necessity to “move forward in [her] educational pursuits,” and was submitted in time so the school board would have ample time to select a replacement.

The board’s agenda item to consider her termination was posted as “for conduct constituting good cause for her termination, as determined by the CISD Board of Trustees.”

A large crowd was present for the meeting, which was moved to the band hall. Several members of the crowd spoke during the open forum portion of the meeting, many of whom expressed support for Matterson and spoke to her capabilities as an educator and administrator. Longtime educator Roschelle Springfield urged the trustees to allow Matterson to “let her complete the year with dignity.”

Several others spoke of how Matterson had helped their children succeed in school. Matterson began her teaching career at Colmesneil and returned in 2014 to begin serving as superintendent, after working in administration in other districts.

In a previous story, one source said the Texas Education Agency was in the process of suspending Matterson’s educator credentials, however another source with the agency clarified the process used during educator investigations with pending legal matters.

If TEA receives a complaint against an educator, the agency’s investigations unit will determine if an investigation is necessary and the educator’s certificate will be flagged, however it is not suspended during the investigation. Certifications are only suspended at the conclusion of an investigation in which a determination of wrongdoing is reached, according to TEA policy. During the investigation, any employment decisions regarding the educator are made by the district.

After the board voted to accept Matterson’s resignation as written and not move forward with termination, the district’s attorney Tanner Hunt read a statement from the board expressing its disappointment with the incident in Colorado and with Matterson’s failure to report the incident in a timely matter.

Another topic addressed on Monday night’s agenda and given acknowledgement by citizens during the open forum concerned material that several parents have found objectionable.

The material, which was obtained from a website and allegedly used as homework assignments in a seventh-grade theater arts class, was also a topic addressed at the October board meeting. Another piece of prose-poetry, which was allegedly read by a high school student to the junior high students as an entry for UIL competition, was read, in part, at Monday night’s meeting by Raven Rogers, a parent whose child was in the class.

Two parents, Jason and Coty Squier, have filed a level three grievance with CISD. A complaint hearing was conducted Monday night in closed session regarding the matter. The board voted to defer any decision on the matter until its next meeting.

Other Business
During Monday night’s meeting, new board member Bo Bendy was sworn in to begin his term, along with incumbents Luke Wilkinson and Kenneth Graham.

Outgoing Board President Curtis Pittman addressed the trustees and the crowd, and said he was proud to have served on the board with many great men and women for the past 15 years.

 

 

 

 

The board approved its restructuring with Kris Lindsey to serve as its new president, Twyla Darder as vice president and Kenneth Adaway as secretary.

 

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Tyler County voters vote in variety of races

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By Chris Edwards
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Tyler County residents turned out to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 5, to vote for a variety of races throughout the county, as well as several statewide constitutional amendments.
In the Ivanhoe City Council election, which had candidates trying for three at large seats, the following votes were received: Tommy Morris 144; Skip Blackstone 138; David Herrington 136; Karen Fidler 121; Rowland Priddy 117; Ray McGlaun 98 and Debbie Peterson 57.

The ballot item for the City of Ivanhoe, Proposition A, for a city sales tax allocation, passed with 214 residents voting for the proposition and 91 against it.

In the Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees election, voters chose Bo Bendy for an at-large full term on the CISD board with 298 votes. Kenneth Graham received 255 votes and Curtis Pittman 176. For an at-large unexpired seat on the board, Luke Wilkinson received 329 votes to Brian K. Bell’s 130.

Incumbents won new terms on the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees for places 6 and 7, with John Wilson winning with 488 votes to Kris Fowler’s 457 and Josh McClure with 514 votes to John David Risinger’s 468.

In the statewide constitutional amendment proposition 4, which made it more challenging for future state lawmakers to pass a state income tax Tyler Countians voted 2,388 for and 388 against. Statewide, the measure passed 74% to 26% with 1,467,994 votes in favor of it to 504,848 against.

Nine other propositions were on the ballot for amending the state constitution. These amendments ranged from one allowing municipal court judges to serve multiple municipalities to one allowing the Texas Water Development Board to issue bonds to fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects in low median income areas. Voters across the state approved all of these amendments, save for Proposition 1, which pertained to municipal court judges.

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Meth dealer given 10-year sentence

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By Chris Edwards
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Jason Ferguson mugJason FergusonWOODVILLE – Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin said a long-time meth dealer in the area “just needed…to be prosecuted.”

Jason Robert Ferguson, a 34-year-old Colmesneil man, was convicted of possession of meth and sentenced to 10 years in prison last week. Ferguson, according to Babin, had never been convicted of anything despite being arrested more than 20 times in a 10-year period. “Some cases were never prosecuted,” Babin said. He added that after taking office as DA, there were numerous felonies pending against Ferguson. “After reviewing the evidence, it was clear he was a significant meth dealer in Tyler County,” Babin said.

During Ferguson’s trial, which began on the morning of Oct. 31, with District Judge Earl Stover III president, evidence was presented that showed him selling large quantities of meth, including video footage of him at a Tyler County residence with nearly a quarter pound of meth. “The evidence told a long story of a defendant who was causing problems for our citizens and for law enforcement,” Babin said.

During Ferguson’s trial, Babin made it clear that probation was off the table. The defendant had previously pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony possession of meth charge, which carries a punishment range of probation or up to 20 years in prison.

Several of Ferguson’s family members tried to persuade Stover that the defendant should receive probation because he was attending rehab for individuals suffering from behavioral health challenges.

A letter submitted by a state representative asked the court to be open to “a diverse spectrum of responses” when considering Ferguson’s punishment and cited his favorable response to treatment in rehab. Babin said he did not know why the defense would involve a state legislator in the court proceedings. “In my opinion, a ‘health challenge’ would be someone who lost a leg in Afghanistan. Not someone who voluntarily made a career selling meth,” he said.

Ferguson’s last arrest in Tyler County occurred in May of 2018 when deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office along with two county constables arrested him for outstanding felony warrants for evading arrest with a motor vehicle and theft. At his residence, the investigators discovered that a vehicle parked in the yard was reported as stolen by Jefferson County officials.

A public records search turned up 11 cases filed with the county clerk’s office with Ferguson as the defendant, dating back to 2005.

Ferguson’s sentence is one of several recent lengthy terms handed down in a Tyler County courtroom for meth-related crimes. Babin said recently “We cannot tolerate meth in our county. It ruins lives and inevitably leads to burglaries, thefts, child endangerment and many other crimes. Law-abiding citizens deserve a safe and peaceful community.”

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CISD supt. submits resignation request

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By Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – Colmesneil ISD Superintendent Angela Matterson submitted a letter of resignation to the CISD Board of Trustees last week. Earlier this week, a mugshot purporting to be Matterson, surfaced on social media, and referenced an arrest in Colorado.

The mugshot does not list any charges but refers to an arrest that occurred on Oct. 21 and cites two different agencies: the Sheriff ’s offices of LaPlata and Archuleta counties.

The resignation letter, accompanied by an email directed to faculty and staff, does not specify why Matterson is stepping down from the position, in which she has served since 2014. At press time, calls to the district had not been returned. The letter states that Matterson’s final day as superintendent will be June 11, 2020.

In the letter, Matterson states a necessity to “move forward in my educational pursuits,” and indicates that it was submitted in time so that the school board has ample time to select a replacement.

The particulars of the incident in Colorado are not known as of press time, but the Booster has reached out to those aforementioned agencies with an open records request.

A representative with the Texas Education Agency confirmed that an arrest was reported, and TEA is in the process of suspending Matterson’s educator credentials until the matter is resolved, per TEA policy. According to TEA, they were informed of the arrest on Tuesday.

In Texas, the State Board of Educator Certification, which is a division of TEA, is responsible for the certification and discipline of Texas educators. There is a wide range of behaviors that the SBEC can take action against, based on violations of the Texas Educator Code of Ethics, or any other grounds by law.

In the letter, Matterson expressed gratitude for being able to serve as CISD Superintendent and highlighted some of the achievements for the district under her leadership but conceded “My work at Colmesneil ISD is done.”

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