KEMP, Texas — The Kemp ISD board unanimously accepted the resignation of one of their own trustees Monday night and tabled action to appoint her replacement.
In later action - after more than forty minutes of consultation with the district’s attorney during executive session - the board unanimously approved the terms of a proposed settlement agreement concerning the pending litigation between Kemp ISD vs. Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Mike Morath, Commissioner of Education, in his official capacity. The petition is currently in recess awaiting to be heard in the 345th District Court of Travis County later this year.
After initial action to lower the district’s tax rate, trustees accepted the resignation of long time board trustee Charissa Roberts.
In a copy of the letter obtained by inForney.com, Roberts stepped down from her position in an email to district officials on July 27.
“It is with a grateful heart that I am stepping down from my position as a member of the Board of Trustees,” Roberts said. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. I truly believe I have been purposeful and intentional in my service to Kemp Independent School District.”
“I am proud of the many things that have been accomplished over the years. Every vote or action that I have ever made was to improve the district, support our wonderful staff, and give all students an opportunity to fulfill their God given ability. Those that truly know me and my heart, know this to be true,” the email said.
Roberts has been at the center of board controversy since December 2020 when the Dallas Morning News broke the story of a TEA investigation that alleged board dysfunction, bribery, seduction, racism and intimidation, corruption and scrubbing public records.
“The agency found that Kemp’s board “misused its position to assert control and power, creating chaos and conflict that hindered the District’s ability to function efficiently and effectively,” according to investigators,” the News reported at the time.
“TEA investigators described an instance where school board president Charissa Roberts allegedly asked an employee to seduce then-Superintendent Lisa Gonzales in a place where Roberts could discover the affair and have grounds to fire Gonzales,” according to the News, citing a report from the TEA that was reportedly “preliminary”.
“You need a take one for the team … go in there, y’all, try to have sex with her and I’ll walk in … this is how we’ll get her out of there,” Roberts allegedly told a district employee who is quoted in the report,” according to the report.
The TEA's report, reportedly a culmination of an 18-month investigation, has never been made public.
Both Kemp ISD and the TEA have both declined inForney.com’s request for a copy, and their decisions were backed by an opinion from Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton earlier this year.
The Dallas Morning News is so far the only publication to report that they have seen the report.
Multiple Kemp ISD officials, speaking on background to inForney.com, say that they believe the report was likely leaked to the paper by a rogue board member, soon after its arrival late last year.
In January of this year, Kemp ISD and it’s attorney filed a 170-page rebuttal, arguing that the TEA’s investigation was flawed with conflicts of interest, witnesses that lacked credibility and was essentially incomplete.
“The issues raised in this investigation are a direct result of the guidance and leadership of the former Administration,” Dubner wrote. “The new administration is in the process of cleaning up the problems created by the former Administration,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
Kemp ISD attorneys maintained that the former superintendent Dr. Lisa Gonzales and a former business manager, was to blame for the toxic work environment and strained relationships with board trustees.
inForney.com first began reporting on Dr. Gonzales and her mishandling of an investigation of of sexual misconduct and improper relationships between a teacher and a student in the Spring of 2019. Kemp ISD and the TEA have yet to comply with inForney.com’s request for documents or files pertaining to that investigation. Dr. Gonzales resigned from Kemp ISD last May.
Following their rebuttal, Kemp ISD took the TEA to court to prevent the agency from removing the local board of trustees, a possible consequence indicated by TEA Commissioner Morath.
This past May, a Travis County district judge sided with Kemp ISD, granting an injunction that protected them from further investigations and sanctions – including an agency takeover of the board of trustees. Read more about that here.
The case was set to be back in court this December, however, board action on Monday night indicates the District’s attorneys believe that a settlement is within reach.
Following Monday night’s executive session, the board returned to unanimously approve a motion to allow the District’s attorneys to pursue a settlement agreement. The details of that settlement have not been disclosed.
“Tonight, the board approved to move forward with the attorneys to work out a settlement agreement,” said current Kemp ISD Superintendent Dr. James Young, who inherited the litigation.
“I believe if TEA operates in good faith we will have a resolution very soon,” Young tells inForney.com following the meeting.
Young said that Robert’s resignation was not part of the settlement agreement.
Board trustees said they will begin advertising Robert’s vacancy and appoint a replacement after accepting nominations and applications from the community.