Katy ISD has a poor record of hiring superintendents, in my view. 

When I moved here, Gordon Brown was the superintendent. At the time I didn't think too much of him.  That was probably because he left his wife and ran off with a nice looking administrator of his acquaintance.  Mr. Brown took a buy out from the Katy ISD school board and is living in Huntsville, Texas.

But sometimes we let personal behavior get in the way of seeing the value of someone's professional life.  In retrospect, Mr. Brown was a good superintendent and ran the Katy school district very well. Sometimes we just don't know a good thing when we see it! His personal life was no concern of mine or anyone else's.

Mr. Brown was replaced by Linda Woodward.  Dr. Woodward, in my opinion, made the mistake of trying to appease the interests of both ends of the District at the same time.  That was not an easy thing to do, and when she was confronted with what she was doing, she took her buy out and left town too.  I personally liked Dr. Woodward, but she was dropped into the fire of Katy politics, and she didn't seem to appear to know how to handle that situation.'"

Then we got Hugh Hayes. Dr. Hays was another superintendent from another part of Texas looking for another job.  It appeared to me that he had just been tweaked, pretty much, in the popular novel Friday Night Lights, a fictionalized version of the Odessa Permian football team and its adventures.  I think he was looking to get out of Dodge.

Headhunters have a way of passing superintendents on the "run" so to speak to unsuspecting places like Katy.  I thought Dr. Hays was always more interested in his golf game than the matters of the District. I didn't care much for him, and he REALLY didn't like me!  I did my best to play the game when I got elected to the school board, as I thought my personal dislike got in the way of creating a better place for students.  In my opinion,  Dr. Hayes was charged, not by our school board, but by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) with bringing Outcome Based Education to KISD.  I saw my role as being there to stop him and them.  I knew more about the effort to bring change than he did, thanks to some wise parents who gave me stacks of reading materials on the subject!  The Board would say to him, "We don't want this system in our schools."  And he would act like he didn't know what we were talking about. He once even said, "I don't know what OBE is!" It was an interesting game that we played.  Unfortunately OBE was a steam roller of a program, and we got it and still have it, thanks to Dr. Hayes.

Sometimes, however, little mistakes get in the way of big efforts.  One fall Dr. Hayes made the mistake of putting the legal definition of "Public Lewdness" in the Discipline Management Plan.  He at first blamed the Board for approving it when we had been given a "draft" copy of the page the previous Spring.  Unlucky for him, I never throw anything away, and produced the "draft copy" which lacked the definition!  Turned out he and the KISD principals decided on their own to put the definition in the DMP. I know that because a KISD administrator told me.  After that he was persona non grata.  Unluckily for him, the Board also was tired of doing buy outs and there was none for Dr. Hays.  He just had to leave on his own.

The next superintendent was brought to KISD by Bob Thompson--noted Lamar headhunter and superintendent trainer.  (On Mr. Thompson's page on this web site, I have a photo that he himself had posted on HIS web site pointing out to his superintendent trainees that they should be leery of "helicopter" board members.  Most people know that a "helicopter" anything is something/ someone who hovers, asks a lot of questions and gets in the way of, in this case, a superintendent.  "I" would be one of those helicopter school board members. That was my job--to provide oversight! Mr. Thompson then goes on (on his chalkboard) to explain, with bullet points on each matter, how to deal with such board members!)

Mr. Thompson was supposed to bring us qualified candidates that reflected the views of the people of Katy--someone who could bring academic excellence to our worthy students.  There were two problems with this situation.  Mr. Thompson had been the Chairman of Education Commissioner Skip Meno's efforts in the late 1980's to bring Outcome Based Education to Texas (from New York).  Mr. Meno and Mr. Thompson had been associated with New York colleges of education and appeared to be well acquainted when they got to Texas.  It appeared that here we had a fellow who was bent on inflicting change in Texas surreptitiously, and the best way to do it was for him to engage in the business of placing superintendents in a great many Texas school districts, and nevermind that he made a bit of cash on the side.   

The four choices that he brought us were a man from California who hadn't a clue about Texas education, a superintendent from Lufkin who was looking (at least to me) to get out of his school district, a superintendent from Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota where the governor had just tied superintendent's salaries to his own and where an aspiring fellow was not going to "get ahead financially with such a situation," and Leonard Merrell who was the superintendent of the Texas City ISD where there were low-income students with low test scores, where there was one high school, one junior high and maybe one or two elementary schools, and where Dr. Merrell was housed in an old Quonset hut! I was stunned when we went to visit his district. I could not see any way this person had the background to come to Katy and do what we were wanting him to do. I was the lone Board member to vote against his hiring.

And I was right.  This superintendent was all about making buddies out of Katy folks who could be useful, and getting bond money-- a "big pile of money" (to quote the man).  He passed one bond after another and appeared to find joy in spreading the wealth around--like it was HIS money!  He did absolutely nothing to enhance the academics of the Katy school district, in my opinion. His last slap in our faces was to build a huge home in a neighboring school district (Waller ISD) where the taxes weren't so high as he had made them for all of us in Katy!

I am also of the opinion that when Leonard Merrell lost the 2006 first (Spring) bond election (which is anathema to school superintendents), he retired because of that failure even though he came back and successfully passed an even bigger bond in the fall.

Since Bob Thompson had done such a sterling job bringing KISD Dr. Merrell, he was again hired to bring in the next superintendent.  We played Delphi games and went through the motions of "looking" for a new superintendent. The public got played again.

One just has to wonder why a Board would agree to bring in a fellow (Alton Frailey) who appeared to me to be being edged out of his current district, had bad press from the teachers, and hadn't a clue about the needs of Katy, TX.  He had been an assistant superintendent in Spring Branch while it was on the decline, and his claim to fame there was his installation of an International Baccalaureate (IB) school to fill up one of Spring Branch's empty buildings (that they had built too many of when they were growing.)  (For those who don't know, IB schools exist to inculcate students in the matters of the United Nations--not exactly something KISD capitalist/conservative/Republican residents embrace!)  He also had passed a bond and built a football stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  That inner city school district was also not like Katy ISD, and so once again KISD was hiring someone who was not, in my opinion, a very good fit.  In a school district that was paying around $250,000 at the time plus mega benefits, why wouldn't they have looked for someone with a doctorate, someone with a valid (not temporary) superintendent's certificate, and someone who knew something about running a growing suburban school district!  The bond passing ability and the building of a football stadium are key here.  Priorities! And, as it turns out, Mr. Frailey was on the Cy-Fair ISD school board and had been a friend of Katy school board member Joe Adams.  It's all in who you know.

So here we are--thirty four years down the road, and our school district is now declining.  I believe the signs are there if one looks, and our situation appears to me to be directly related to the poor selection process of the last three superintendents.