OPINION COLUMNS

For good of school district, indicted trustee should resign

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{{{*}}}On Monday night, Northwest School Board President Mel Fuller took time to read a statement addressing the recent felony indictment of fellow board member Kerry Jones.

Jones was not present, and he shouldn’t be.

Fuller pointed out that neither the board nor the school district have the legal authority to suspend a school board member. Legal board policy states that the school board or the district cannot remove a board member from office unless he or she is convicted by a jury for a felony, or for a misdemeanor involving official misconduct.

But there are other options.

Jones could resign.

An indictment and arrest are not signs of guilt. I have not seen any evidence in the case and have no idea if Jones is guilty or not. I do know that a grand jury has reviewed the case and determined there is sufficient evidence to bring Jones to trial.

Jones, who was a freshman counselor for the Grapevine-Colleyville school district, has been indicted on four counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student. It’s important to note that the alleged crime did not take place with a Northwest student, but it still involves an educator who is in the position of working with kids. Jones has also previously been employed as a counselor and coach at Northwest ISD.

After his initial arrest last August, Jones missed several meetings in a row before returning to his post. Since that time, his attendance has been sporadic.

It’s obvious that the arrest and now indictment are a distraction, to him and to his fellow board members. A school board should be focused on providing a quality learning environment for students.

It’s time for Jones to resign so that the focus can be 100 percent on the education of students. Let the justice system work, and if Jones is cleared, let him run again for his seat next spring if he chooses.

Of course, there is another option. A resident of the school district can file a petition to remove a board member from office. The reason for removal must be for incompetence, official misconduct or intoxication. A conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor official misconduct would result in immediate removal from office.

You might recall that is the option a Wise County resident took last year to have County Commissioner Terry Ross removed from office following his felony indictments. Commissioners have been able to move forward with the business at hand while awaiting the outcome of Ross’ trial, which is scheduled for April 23.

Likewise, Jones’ removal from office would allow Northwest ISD to put all of its resources into the business of education. The district is one of the best in North Texas, if not the state. It deserves the best from its leadership.

It’s time to move on.

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