Katy ISD has requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General on whether the district is legally required to release records related to complaints about Golbow Elementary Principal Ann Smith and her administrative staff.
Earlier this month, InstantNewsKaty requested the district release documents related to any such complaints filed by staff, teachers, residents or parents.
The request was filed following a school board meeting during which teachers and parents complained they had been “bullied” and “intimidated” by Smith and her assistant principals.
“This request is intended to include any and all internal communications in any format between Katy ISD administrative staff member and school board members regarding complaints and allegations of ‘bullying,’ ‘intimidation’ or related activities at Golbow Elementary,” the request said.
On Monday, Katy ISD Public Information Specialist Tricia McKinney sent an e-mail message to InstantNewsKaty saying the district was asking the Attorney General if the documents are “within an exception to public disclosure.”
“It is necessary for Katy ISD to ask for a decision from the Attorney General’s Office about whether the information is within an exception to public disclosure,” McKinney said in the e-mail.
The message also included a copy of the letter sent to the Attorney General’s Office. The letter was dated April 18 – the same day as the e-mail message – which was also the final day of the ten days given the school district by law to respond to an open records request.
In the letter, McKinney told Amanda Crawford, chief of the Attorney General’s Open Records Section, the district believes the documents should not be released due to the material being “confidential by law” and related to litigation and legal matters.
“The district believes that the information contained within those documents would be excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.103 and 552.107 of the Texas Public Information Act including, but not limited to, the following exceptions:
- 552.101 – Information Confidential by Law
- 552.103 – Information Relating to Litigation
- 552.107 – Certain Legal Matters,”
McKinney said in the letter.
More than 50 teachers, parents and former educators appeared before Katy ISD trustees last month to say they had been bullied, belittled, disrespected and forced out by Smith and her assistants, Cece Perez and Felicia Sheedy. They also asked the school board to investigate the situation at the campus.
The speakers said the current campus administration had created an atmosphere of fear among teachers and parents with tactics of intimidation and retaliation.
Possibly the most compelling remarks came from retired Golbow principal Terri Majors. She told trustees “there is an unhealthy, psychologically damaging work and learning environment at Golbow that has been created and fueled by the current administration.”
“Behaviors and actions of Golbow’s three administrators injure the staff’s self-esteem, cause anguish during work hours, are perceived as hostile, unwanted and unwarranted. These actions defeat the goal of providing a happy, positive learning environmental for the students,” Majors said.
She also said the school district’s human resources department was complicit in the retaliation against teachers.
“There is documented ongoing support for Golbow’s current administration by the district’s human resources department despite the large volume of teacher resignations, transfers and non-renewals that far exceed the norm,” Majors said. “At the end of the school year, 68 percent of the teaching staff at Golbow when the new administration was hired will be gone.”
Board members did not respond to any of the comments and no action was taken.
Katy ISD administrators later announced Smith and her staff had the district’s full support.