Commissioner: the board member who complained of the coach should have recused herself from the coach’s nonrenewal hearing.

We don’t get a lot of decisions that shed light on the circumstances when a board member should seek recusal from a hearing due to a possible conflict of interest.  But we have one in a decision from the Commissioner. 

The story begins with complaints filed by two individuals who were parents of volleyball players.  But that’s not all they were.   One of them had the dual distinction of being a board member herself, as well as the mother-in-law of the board president.  The other complaining parent was the wife of the board president. So we have a board president whose wife and mother-in-law have filed complaints against a coach, whose case later comes before the board for proposed nonrenewal.  And we have the complaining parent/mother-in-law/board member. 

The Commissioner provides no analysis of the standards that apply to recusal, but simply notes that each of the two board members had a “personal connection to the allegations against Petitioner.”  So they should have recused themselves when the Petitioner asked them to. 

This was not the reason for the Commissioner’s decision which went against the district. We will tell you about that tomorrow and Friday.  For today, just a word to the wise board member about recusal.  Tomorrow we will explain how a reassignment case turned into a nonrenewal case and what the Commissioner’s decision tells us about the limits on the superintendent’s authority to order reassignments.

It’s Lutich v. Fabens ISD, decided by Commissioner Morath on November 5, 2019.  It’s Docket No. 002-R1-09-2019.


Tomorrow: Reassignment gone wrong.