HISD's New Hire Leaves Questions Behind In Dallas

The Houston school district announced a major reorganization yesterday, naming three top officials to oversee elementary, middle school and high school education.

Two of the three came from out of the district, including David Simmons, who will supervise high school policies.

Simmons had been superintendent of the Richardson school district, a Dallas suburb. Reporters up there say he left his post last year rather abruptly, and with little in the way of explanation from either himself or RISD board members.

Jeffrey Weiss, who covers RISD for the Dallas Morning News, wrote an open letter to Simmons after he was "rebuffed or ignored though several official and unofficial channels" while seeking answers to the decision.

There was one passage in the open letter that would catch anyone's eye:

4) As you surely know, there are many rumors about your personal life. Some apparently pre-date your resignation by many months. Some may be driven in part by your filing for divorce in January (finalized the week you resigned) and by reports about the sale of your house. This is none of my business or even interest, except for two causes for dismissal listed in your contract with the district:

-- Immorality, which is conduct not in conformity with the accepted moral standards of the community encompassed by the district...
-- Any activity, school connected or otherwise, that because of publicity given it or knowledge of it among students, faculty or community, impairs or diminishes the superintendent's effectiveness in the district...

I am not about to publish uncorroborated rumors here or in the paper. But I think it's fair to ask you this: Did you, while superintendent, engage in activities that were substantially not in conformity with the accepted moral standards of the district or that would have, if made public, impaired your effectiveness in the job?

That's it. If you want to talk, you surely know how to find me. I've left my number enough places.

Hey, he's just asking questions!!! It's not quite up there with "When did you stop beating your wife?" but reporters for papers like the DMN don't write such things, even on blogs, without there being a lot of rumors going around.

Was HISD aware of any such rumors? Did they investigate any allegations?

District spokesman Norm Uhl tells Hair Balls, at least indirectly,  that things were looked into.

"Based on our background checks, we are satisfied that there are no issues," he says.

Richardson received a $300,000 payout upon resigning, the News reports, and the agreement includes clauses barring Simmons or the school board making "disparaging remarks" against each other or the district.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly