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Wednesday, June 14, 2000

School Board responds to "pot shots" with press release

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 14, 2000 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members cleared the air on a personnel matter during a special meeting held Tuesday evening in the board room.

Several teachers and interested community members were on hand to listen to the press release given out by the board in response to "bad publicity" recently in the Pecos Enterprise, regarding the non-renewal of contracts for two teachers.

"It is the full intention of the board to be on the up-and-up," said board president Louis Matta. "We've been accused of lying and bad management," he said.

Matta stated that he has served on a lot of boards and committees and has yet to find a board as conscientious as this one. "I hate it when people take pot shots at us," said Matta. "There are some new board members on board that this has really upset," he said.

Board secretary Brent Shaw read the press release out loud for the audience.

The press release stated:

Due to the recent publicity that has been in the press concerning our school district, our administrators, and this Board of trustees, this press release is being made to help our public understand our responsibility to our students and to their parents.

It is not the practice of this Board or our administration as a general rule to comment on personnel matters. We believe our employees appreciate our respect of their privacy interests. However, due to the inaccurate and misleading statements that have been covered in the press by former employees, this press release is intended to assure our students and parents that the privacy rights of student records is of paramount importance to this Board and to our administrators and we will continue to protect those privacy interests.

There is an employment dispute between the district and former teachers, Ms. Bauer and Mr. Bauer about a grade change. During the course of the grievance, former teachers Ms. Bauer and Mr. Bauer presented evidence from student discipline files that was not connected with the dispute over the grade change. During the grievance filed by Ms. Bauer over the directive to change the student's grade, Ms. Bauer offered no evidence to support the grade given to the student. As such, Principal Danny Rodriguez exercised his discretion to have the grade adjusted. No other parent brought forward a complaint to have their student's grades reviewed therefore no other grade adjustments were made. At the grievance before the Board, the trustees upheld Principal Rodriguez's decision to adjust the grade. The following factual information was provided to Mr. Briggs from the Pecos Enterprise in documents produced by the school district in response to Mr. Briggs request for production of records under the Public Information Act. However, Mr. Briggs chose not to include this factual information in his series of articles.

A complaint was filed by Bruce and Brenilda Bauer with the Texas Education Agency regarding the Board's decision to deny Mrs. Bauer's grievance over the grade change was dated on December 15, 1999 and was stamped as received by the Texas Education Agency on December 22, 1999. No copy of the complaint was sent to the school district or its attorney. The complaint included copies of student discipline records collected by the Bauers without the knowledge or consent of either the school district or the students' parents. These student records were obtained by the Bauers during the 1998-99 school year, well before any request was made by a student's parents for a review of the student's final grade from the end of that school year. The Bauers did not remove he names of the students whose records were sent with the complaint. The students whose names were on those discipline records were not the student involved in Mrs. Bauer's grievance before the Board. The discipline records were not relevant to the grade change in any manner.

On December 17, 1999, before their complaint was even received by the Texas Education Agency and long before the district was made aware of the filing of their complaint, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer were instructed orally and in writing by Mr. Love to return all copies of student records in their personal possession, to identify all persons to whom they had revealed the students' names or records referenced in the manucscript chapter which they had given to Mr. Love in support of Mrs. Bauer's complaint about the grade change, and to provide the rest of the references to student names and records contained in the rest of the manuscript. The Bauers were given until January 3, 2000 to return the student records and provide the information requested. Mr. Bauer's response was, "What makes you think we will give you any documents:" or words to that effect.

On January 3, 2000, the only response from Mr. and Mrs. Bauer was a statement that they were not holding any documents in violation of federal law _ the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). They did not return any student records, did not provide any response to the request for identification of any persons to whom they had revealed the student names and records, and they did not provide any other portions of the manuscript.

On January 6, 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer were given a second opportunity to respond to the previous directives given by Mr. Love during a second conference. They were instructed orally and in writing to comply with the previous directives. They were further given the opportunity to sign an affidavit in the event they did not have any student records, and had not revealed the students' names or records to other persons. They were informed tat this was their final opportunity to comply with directives from Mr. Love and that their further failure to comply would result in appropriate employment action. They were given a deadline of January 14, 2000.

On January 14, 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer again failed to comply with the directives, nor did they provide an affidavit. Instead, they again provided a statement that said they were not holding any documents in violation of FERPA.

By letters dated March 10, 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer were provided with written notice of the proposed nonrenewal of their employment contracts with the district. The letter received by each stated the reasons for the proposed nonrenewal and informed them of their right to a hearing prior to any action by the Board to nonrenew their contracts. In addition to the reason citing a FERPA violation, they were both notified that the recommendation for nonrenewal was due to "Insubordination or failure to comply with official directives" directly related to their refusal to comply with the directives given by Mr. Love. The policy provided with each letter, stated the deadline for requesting the hearing and that the hearing could be in open session if they requested an open hearing. In spite of the opportunity for a full public due process hearing in which they would have had the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence to support their position, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bauer ever requested a hearing before the Board of Trustees.

Having received no request for a hearing from either Mr. or Mrs. Bauer by the deadline set out in Board policy, on April 4, 2000, the Board of Trustees took action to nonrenew their employment contract for the 2000-2001 school year. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bauer filed an appeal from that Board action with the Texas Education Agency. Instead, both Mr. and Mrs. Bauer continuously misrepresented to the Texas Education Agency in Mrs. Bauer's grievance appeal that their contracts had been nonrenewed by the Board on March 10, 2000.

PBT-ISD's attorney, Judy Brown, contacted Kevin Lungwitz, a source listed by Mr. Briggs, on June 9, 2000 regarding statements quoted by Mr. Briggs in his May 26, 2000 article entitled, "TSTA officials question charges against Bauers." Mr. Lungwitz stated that neither he nor any other TSTA representative represented the Bauers or had any contact with the Bauers. Mr. Lungwitz verified that he had no knowledge of the facts related to this case. Mr. Lungwitz stated that his office had been contacted by a local reported for a contrary position on the issue of whether a teacher who gives student records to an administrator or the Texas Education Agency in the teacher's grievance violates FERPA. Mr. Lungwitz was not presented with any facts related to the directives given to Mr. and Mrs. Bauer or their refusal to comply with those directives regarding returning student records in their personal possession nor did he give any opinion on that issue.

It is the opinion of this Board that the Bauers have chosen to try their case in the media rather than following the district's policies. By following the school district's policies the district would have an equal opportunity to present its evidence and the law that applies to the employment dispute. The way in which the Bauers have chosen to bring their claims have allowed a reporter to decide what is credible and what is legal rather than the Board of Trustees and ultimately the Commissioners of Education. One should question why they chose to pursue the route that prevents the public from having all the information and prevents the Commissioner of Education from deciding the legal issues. The Bauers have now filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging national origin discrimination and retaliation. The District has not discriminated against the Bauers in any manner and has only asked that the Bauers not violate the privacy rights of all students of our District. We think our students and parents support us in our efforts to protect student records.

This Board and the administrators of this district will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the privacy interests of our students and to protect the district from potential liability for the unauthorized release of student records. This statement is the only statement that will be made by the Board of Trustees and we consider the matter closed at this time.

Board members met behind closed doors to discuss personnel including reassignment of principals, and/or assistant principals or hear complaints against personnel, but no action was taken on these items in open session.

The board agreed to ratify/approve the settlement agreement from Cause No. 99-06-16339-CVR.

"We have reached a settlement agreement with the insurance attorney," said superintendent Don Love. "This would allow the superintendent to sign it and send it back to the insurance attorney," he said.

Personnel appointments, reassignments and resignations were approved.

Appointments included:

· Bertha Meierhoff, Bachelor of Arts/Sociology/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignement: Bessie Haynes Elementary School bilingual teacher;

· Sonia Mendez, Bachelor of Arts/Humanities/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Zavala Middle School sixth grade teacher;

· Reubin "Bill" Riggs, Bachelor of Arts/Mass Communication/Southwest Texas State Univesity, no experience, assignment: Pecos High School English/Journalism teacher.

Reassignments were:

* Susann Flowers, from Pecos Elementary School third grade teacher to Austin Elementary School first grade teacher.

Resignations came from Criselda Armenta, sixth grade teacher/Zavala Middle School sixth grade and Judy Heronema, special education teacher/Pecos Kindergarten.

Appointments, reassignments and resignations approved during the June 8 regular school board meeting included:


· Kelly Cooper, Bachelor of Business Administration/Business/Tarleton State University, no experience, Crockett Middle School Special Education self-contained classroom teacher/coach;

· Jose Gonzales, Jr., Bachelor of Science/Interdisciplinary Studies/West Texas A&M University, 3 years experience, Zavala Middle School sixth grade teacher/coach.


· Crissy Dominguez, from Carver Alternative Education Program teacher to Zavala Middle School sixth grade special education teacher;

· Karen Oglesby, from Zavala Middle School sixth grade special education teacher to Pecos Elementary School third grade special education teacher;

· Gaston Tarango, from Zavala Middle School sixth grade teacher to Crockett Middle School science teacher.

Resignations came from:

· Amy Lechuga, fourth grade teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary School and;

· Carlton Taylor, history teacher/Pecos High School.

Local volunteers get locked up for MDA

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 14, 2000 - Community members got "locked up" this morning for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

MDA Lock Up Behind Bars for Good is a national fundraiser benefiting people affected by muscular dystrophy. This fundraiser took place at the Pecos Community Center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., MDA District Director Trudy Espinosa said

"We're locking up people from Pecos and asking them to raise $750 in bail by calling family, friends and co-workers," she said.

Espinosa said local firefighters have done a fundraiser for MDA before but this is the first year for this particular fundraiser.

"The money raised here stays in West Texas," Espinosa said. "We use it for patient services, clinics, support groups and tangible items they need, like wheelchairs."

A portion of the money raised will allow children with muscular dystrophy to go to summer camp at Ceta Canyon in Canyon, Texas. Espinosa said about 50 kids from the ages of six to eighteen years old go to the camp each year.

"It is a week without any boundaries," Espinosa said.

Espinosa said businesses in Pecos were contacted in May informing them of the fundraiser. She said they could take pledges or bring cash and checks on the fundraiser date.

There have been about 50 confirmed businesses and citizens participating.

Executive Director of the Christian Home of Pecos, Bruce Dury said he was asked to participated and thought it would be fun.

"In my position, I know a lot of folks so I thought I could help out," Dury said.

Mark Zuniga, manager of Martinez Funeral Home, said he was also asked to participate.

"I'm always ready to volunteer to try and help people out," Zuniga said. "All these worthwhile causes help somebody."

Dury said he wishes he could help out more.

"I wish I knew more people to bum money off of," Dury said.

Espinosa wants to assure donors that the money raised will stay in West Texas. She said donations would be accepted at any time.

To send donations write to Muscular Dystrophy Association, Inc., 3001 N. Big Spring #103, Midland, TX 79705.

Pecos Rodeo going live on the Web

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 14, 2000 - New technology will help put the West of the Pecos Rodeo back on the map.

This information was provided by members of Pro Rodeo Broadcasting during the regular meeting of the Chamber Board of Directors held Tuesday at noon at the Pecos Senior Center.

"This is the third season we have done this," said Kelly Clark, with Pro Rodeo Broadcasting. "It's pretty innovative," he said.

Clark stated that the West of the Pecos Rodeo will be seen via the internet this year, the first year this has been done with the local event. "It's like television on the internet," he said.

This is something we'll see more of in the future, according to Clark.

Clark told the group that the company that did the Drew Carey Show via the internet and the Grammy's were the ones that would be doing the rodeo events.

"We're real excited about this, we'll come in here and set up like a television company," said Clark. "And then the rodeo will go out worldwide, and be able to be seen any time of the day or night," he said.

"I talked to Starkey and he should be commended for putting this together, because this will put Pecos on the map," said Clark.

"They gave us the top 100 rodeos and Pecos was one of the first ones we chose," said Clark. "It has a long-standing history," he said.

Clark stated that what they're trying to do is bring something new and combine it with what is already in place.

The event will be getting about 2 ½ million hits a week and will be bringing more tourism to Pecos, according to Clark.

"We're trying to get sponsors and giving local businesses the opportunity for worldwide exposure," said Clark.

Each night will be archived and can be viewed at any time, according to Clark.

"There's a vast audience out there, it's going to be monumental for Pecos," he said. "We hope we can live up to what we're trying to do," he said.

Rodeo tickets are now on sale at the Pecos Chamber of Commerce office.

In other discussions, Richard Creasey announced that there would be an Open House at the State Theater on June 30. "This will give everyone the opportunity to see what it will look like and there will be free popcorn and sodas," he said.

July 1-4, the Windmill Players will be performing at the theater and it will open up for film on July 15.

New post office postponed

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 14, 2000 - If you've been waiting with bated breath for the new Pecos Post Office to open, you may want to relax and take a breath.

Construction of the new post office has been "deferred," said Postmaster Ramona Sterling. That means it will be at least a year before ground will be broken in the 800 block of South Cedar Street.

Sterling said that a question of how many service windows will be needed in the lobby put the project on hold.

"The initial plan was to put two windows in the lobby, but someone said we needed three," Sterling said. "They sent the plans back to headquarters."

She stressed that the project is merely on hold, and it will be re-evaluated next year.

"I hate it," she said. "We were looking forward to it. Everything was done."

The new one-story building will replace the three-story post office and former federal courthouse at 100 West Fourth Street _ if and when it is built.

Police Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies.

The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.

Arthur Natividad Tarrango, 30, was arrested at 6:05 p.m., on June 4 on County Road 319 for making alcohol available to a minor.

Lori Genevera Jordan, 25, Stacey Allen Stone, 32, and Dori Simone, 26, were arrested at 3:57 p.m., on June 5, two miles west of Pecos on BU-20, all for possession of marijuana under 2 ounces-Class B and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle-State Jail Felony.

Sarah Jean Barr, 24, was arrested at 8:05 p.m., on June 5 at the Pecos Police Department for hindering apprehension-3rd degree felony.

Jon Boyd Wilson, 35, was arrested at 9:41 p.m., on June 5 at mile marker 52 for parole violation.

Miguel Garcia, 37, was arrested at 4:28 p.m., on June 6 in the 1300 block of South Cherry during a traffic stop for possession of a control substance.

Jill Franco, 20, was arrested at 7:08 p.m., on June 6 in the 700 block of West 3rd for driving with a suspended license.

Rodney Sanchez Lopez, 27, was arrested at 7 p.m., on June 10 at Balmorhea State Park on a warrant out of Ector County for possession of a controlled substance.

Kathleen Featherstone, 46, was arrested at 6:55 a.m., on June 10 at Flying J for assault-Class C.

Jose Tovar, 19, was arrested at 2:33 p.m., on June 11 at Flying J for theft under $50.

A male juvenile was arrested at 12:40 a.m., on June 11 on East B. and Walnut Streets for curfew violation-3rd offense.

Ciro B. Ortiz, 51, was arrested at 1:46 a.m., on June 10 at La Oficina for public intoxication.

Omar G. Soto, 23, and Ida O. Florez, 37, were arrested at 3:27 a.m., on June 10 in the 200 block of South Cherry Street. Soto was arrested for disorderly conduct and public intoxication. Florez was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conducted (enhanced) and resisting arrest.

Nicholas Hernandez, 34, was arrested at 6:39 p.m., on June 9 in the 700 block of East 4th Street for terroristic threat.

Jesus H. Montanez, 61, was arrested at 11:10 p.m., on June 8 in the 1200 block of Pecan Street for public intoxication.

Elias Sanchez, 48, was arrested at 1:28 a.m., on June 9 at La Oficina for public intoxication.

Adan Matta III, 18, was arrested at 11:38 p.m., on June 7 in the 700 block of South Almond Street on a warrant for criminal mischief-Class B.

Gustavo S. Montoya, 58, Faustino O. Ortiz, 65, and Rafael M. Martinez, 62, were arrested at 12:27 a.m., on June 8 in the 900 block of South Cedar Street. All were arrested for public intoxication-Class C.

John R. Pineda, 54, and Ester Marquez, 40, were arrested at 2:13 a.m., on June 8 on a traffic stop on Highway 17 and FM 1934. Pineda was arrested for driving while intoxicated-Class B and possession of marijuana under two ounces-Class B. Marquez was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia-Class C, possession of marijuana under two ounces-Class B and public intoxication-Class C.

Elizabeth A. Medrano, 36, was arrested at 5 a.m., on June 8 in the 800 block of South Mesquite Street on a warrant for theft by check-Class B.

Sandra Rodriguez, 20, was arrested at 5:35 p.m., on June 7 in the 500 block of South Cherry on a warrant for theft by check.

Bernardo Munoz, 24, was arrested at 10:17 p.m., on June 12 in the 800 block of East 2nd at the Circle M Bar for public intoxication.

Lawanna Anne Mauldin, 36, was arrested at 10:18 p.m., on June 12 at McDonalds for public intoxication, failure to ID to Peace Officer, possession of prohibited substance in a facility and a felony possession of a firearm.

Rick O. Ortiz, 17, was arrested at 2:58 p.m., on June 12 in the 400 block of Pecan Street on a warrant for criminal trespass.

Matt Williamson, 41, was arrested at 7:08 p.m., on June 12 at the Reeves County Jail on a warrant for assault causing bodily injury to a family member-3rd degree felony.

Eric Garcia, 28, was arrested at 10:22 a.m., on June 12 at the police department on a warrant for parole violation.


Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez, 44, died Saturday, June 10, 2000, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident that also took the lives of his wife, Deborah and son, Matthew.

A mass was held at 2 p.m., today at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with Father Jerome Burnett officiating. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.

He was born to Jose Martinez and Clara Lujan on March 15, 1956 in Fort Stockton. He graduated from Fort Stockton High and later attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine, St. Edwards in Austin and UTPB in Odessa. He received a degree in Criminal Justice. He married Deborah Vanbuskirk in 1984, they later adopted their two sons, Zachary and Matthew, and moved to Midland in 1988. He worked for MHMR since 1992, where he was a Rehabilitation Technician. He enjoyed helping the disabled and was an active member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, where he wsa a Cursillistas.

He was preceded in death by his father, Jose Olivas Martinez and a brother, Billy Martinez.

Survivors include one son, Zachary D. Martinez of Midland; his mother, Clara Acosta Lujan of San Angelo; three brothers, Gilbert Martinez of San Angelo, Joel Martinez of Longview, and Antonio Jose "T.J." Gonzales of Midland; four sisters, Priscilla Gomez of Odessa, Claudellia, Myra and Ginny Martinez, all of Midland; five uncles, three aunts, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Reyes-Garcia Funeral Home of Midland is in charge of arrangements.

Deborah Martinez

Deborah Martinez, 46, died Sunday, June 11, 2000, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident that also claimed the lives of her husband, Daniel and son, Matthew Martinez.

Mass was held at 2 p.m., today, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with Father Jerome Burnett officiating. Burial was in Fairview Cemetery.

She was born to Chester and Oleita M. Vanbuskirk on Oct. 31, 1953, in Lamar, Colo., where she was raised and educated. She later moved to Fort Stockton, where she met and later married Daniel in 1984. The couple moved to Midland in 1988. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair. She had worked as a legal secretary and was a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Danny Martinez; one son, Matthew Martinez; and her parents, Chester and Olieta Vanbuskirk.

Survivors include one son, Zachary Daniel Martinez of Midland; one brother, Ronnie Vanbuskirk of Pampa, Tx.; three sisters, Twila Gric and Ester Rule of Lamar, Colo., Jackie Floyd of Missouri and numerous nieces, aunts, nephews, and nieces.

Reyes-Garcia Funeral Home of Midland is in charge of arrangements.

Matthew Martinez

Matthew Billy Martinez, 11, died Saturday, June 10, 2000, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident that also took the lives of both his parents.

A mass was held at 2 p.m., today, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with Father Jerome Burnett officiating. Burial was in Fairview Cemetery.

He was adopted by Daniel Martinez and Deborah Vanbuskirk on Nov. 5, 1988 in Fort Stockton. He attended DeZavala and Scharbauer Elementary schools and enjoyed sports and played Little League Baseball.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Jose Martinez and Oleita and Chester Vanbuskirk and an uncle Billy Martinez.

Survivors include one brother, Zachary Daniel Martinez of Midland; his grandmother, Clara Acosta Lujan of San Angelo; two uncles and six aunts.

Reyes-Garcia Funeral Home of Midland is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, June 14, 2000 - Today partly cloudy and windy a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. High 80-85. South wind 10-20 mph shifting to the northeast this morning and increasing to 20-30 mph and gusty. Tonight partly cloudy low 60-65. East wind 5-15 mph. Thursday partly cloudy and breezy high 90-95. South wind 15-25 mph.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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