There are new developments in the story of a local charter school at the center of a TEA investigation.
The superintendent and founder of the Brazos School of Inquiry and Creativity has temporarily stepped down. The announcement comes two days after the Texas Education Agency released a report that the school mismanaged public funds meant for school business to the tune of more than a quarter million dollars.
Reading from a statement Friday, Dr. Robert Slater, superintendent and founder of the Brazos School for Inquiry and Creativity, announced he's stepping down.
"I am therefore voluntarily suspending myself from my duties as superintendent of the Brazos School until such time as the board can meet and deliberate over these matters," Slater said.
In a final report released Wednesday, the Texas Education Agency questioned nearly $300 thousand worth of expenditures, and ordered school officials to repay the school nearly all of it. Money they say was misused.
The audit found the school's two top administrators, Superintendent Slater, and Board President Thomas Reynolds, were overpaid more than $250,000 from 2002 to 2004.
"All compensation paid to me was earned, was documented and authorized and we were going to pay back those questionable expenses that we said we would in the response, so I don't really have anything more to say about that," Slater said.
The board of directors was to have met Thursday night, but canceled their meeting because it wasn't posted 72 hours in advance. Holding the meeting would have violated state statutes.
Slater contends he doesn't know the intention of the board.
"What we have is a communication problem, because we have board members scattered all over, but when we get back in town we'll sit down, have discussions, and we'll make sure the Brazos School is in good shape for the fall," Slater said.
Regardless of the allegations, Slater says the school will start again in the fall.
Voluntary Suspension Statement
"Seven years ago I started a little school in Bryan, Texas for my son and about a dozen at-risk children. It was to be a new kind of school, a high tech future school that would give our children the qualities they need to be successful in our emerging knowledge society and keep us, in this global economy, competitive with the likes of the Indians and the Chinese. I called it an inquiry-creativity school, a school designed to play on our American genius for turning information into knowledge, and knowledge into invention. I have yet to realize this vision. But since that time, that little school has grown into four schools in two cities serving over 350 children. Over 50 students have now graduated from the Brazos School many of them the first in their families to get a high school diploma. About a third have gone on to higher education, a half-dozen or so with full scholarships. I am proud to have created the Brazos School for inquiry and Creativity and the inquiry-creativity model. I regret the mistakes I have made, and I am grateful to the many people who have helped me and to the parents and children of the Brazos School. But the project simply exceeded my capacities. I am just a professor with an idea. I am therefore voluntarily suspending myself from my duties as superintendent of the Brazos School until such time as the board can meet and deliberate over these matters. I will always be the Brazos School's founder, and I will do everything in my power to see it succeed through these difficult times. I am confident it will do so for not only is it a powerful idea, it is, more importantly, a powerful hope in the lives of many children."
Board president Thomas Reynolds, who lives in California, said board members would release a statement Friday afternoon. We never received one.