C-P board unanimous in choosing acting supt.
But panel split on naming temporary athletic director
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 23, 2007 - School trustees for Como-Pickton Consolidated Independent School District Monday night appointed an acting superintendent and an acting athletic director.

Consideration of the superintendent's contract was tabled until a special executive meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billodeau stepped up last week to fill in for Superintendent Bryan C. Neal, who had been placed on administrative suspension with pay following an emergency meeting called Saturday, Jan. 13, regarding allegations that Neal misused school funds and property.

The board again voted during its regular monthly board meeting last Wednesday to continue Neal's suspension with pay, and tabled any other matters related to the superintendent's annual evaluation, contract and goals for the position.

During Monday night's special session, the board voted unanimously to table all items pertaining to the superintendent's contract.

Board members and school officials said they will continue to work with sheriff's investigators and Texas Rangers into the allegations against Neal. Board members also noted that until that process is completed, they are unable to comment on the situation or allegations against Neal.

He was arrested Wednesday afternoon on three felony allegations: one for forging another administrator's signature to a check made out to him for  $1,769.90, and two fraud charges for falsely obtaining a $19,134.60 Kubota tractor and an $11,806.56 all-terrain vehicle with district funds, then keeping them for himself.

Investigators and the district attorney said that, based on preliminary findings, more forgery and fraud charges are likely.

The vote designating Billodeau to continue as acting superintendent during the investigation into allegations against Neal was unanimous.

�"I've always been really proud to work for this district," Billodeau said Tuesday morning. "The one thing about working here, you have the freedom to look into new programs which will help and benefit the students. I hope to help the district in this time of need to make sure things move smoothly. I anticipate a good working relationship with the board which will keep the district moving forward toward the benefit of our children."

"I think 'Sandy' — Sandra — Billodeau will do a good job," board member Brad Carr noted following the meeting.

Billodeau has served as assistant superintendent at C-PCISD since 2001. She began her career at Como-Pickton in 1984 as a teacher/counselor, the first counselor at the school. She went on to accept a number of administrative positions within the district, including assistant principal for prekindergarten through 12th grade students, elementary principal, prekindergarten through 12th grade principal, then assistant superintendent.

As acting superintendent, Billodeau said, she plans to see that an "internal investigation is done properly," and that she will look at the different staff positions and make recommendations to the board regarding who would best serve in those positions.

Several people in the district complained about reassignments of administrators and teachers before the end of the fall semester,

"The recent changes upset a lot of people," Billodeau acknowledged. "I will look at those to see if that was the most effective way to do that or if something else would be more effective, and make recommendations to the board."

She also said another focus in the coming months will be Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test preparation, to ensure that the students who need extra help receive it, as well as try to again attain an overall recognized rating or better.

"We'll be really focusing on our students to see that their different needs are met over the next few months," Billodeau said.

The school has been offering before-school tutorials as well as other tutorials at different times through the day for most grade levels, beginning at grade three. They will soon be offering after-school tutorials which, like those offered at other times, are tailored to "individual student need" based on benchmark testing, Billodeau said. 

Coach Devin Gabbard was appointed as the acting athletic director in place of Joe Ryzman, who was reassigned from athletic director to assistant secondary principal and power lifting coach in December during a large administrative shakup which affected 11 people.

Gabbard was appointed acting athletic director until a new one can be hired on a six to one vote, with board member Brad Carr voting against the motion. That came after a motion by Carr and seconded by board member Beth Hankins to reinstate Ryzman as acting AD was defeated 5-2. 

The decision was made following what appeared to be a heated executive session in which both Carr and Hankins reportedly argued in favor of Ryzman, while other were against reinstating him.

This is the second year Gabbard has been employed with the district as head coach for the girls basketball program.

After the meeting, board members Hankins, Abbie Wright and Penny Spearman said that their decisions were made by pulling together in an effort to move forward in a positive direction, with the "number one thing the children's education," Hankins added.

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