The superintendent of Crosby Independent School District was told he could no longer visit the district’s property, placed on administrative leave, and ordered to hand in his keys and retrieve his personal belongings as he was removed from his office last month.
But he is still pocketing his more than $200,000 salary for the next four months.
The district announced on January 22 that Keith Moore, the district’s superintendent since 2014, had resigned effective June 30.
Records obtained by The Texas Monitor show that Moore was given his full pay of $212,657, in addition to a $500 monthly car allowance, and health coverage through June and is banned from the district’s property without district permission.
A four-page separation agreement signed by district trustees states that Moore “believes it will be in his best interest and that of the district to voluntarily resign his position.”
Moore, in a brief conversation with The Texas Monitor last week said that he asked the district to accept his resignation and added, “it was the best thing for me personally at the time…it was amicable.”
He declined to answer further questions. Specifically, he stopped talking when asked about the mandate that he not visit the district.
“During administrative leave period, Moore…will not come onto school property without the written permission of the Board president…” the separation agreement says.
The parting document contains exoneration clauses, assigning culpability for any legal action on Moore in cases where “it is determined that Moore committed a criminal act, official misconduct or committing a willful or wrongful act or omission…”
Likewise, Moore agrees to release the district and its trustees and employees from any claims or actions.
“There is nothing fishy going on at all,” Crosby Trustee David Porter said in an interview. He said he never saw the separation agreement, although records show Porter was present at the January 18 meeting, including the executive session, during which Moore’s resignation was finalized.
A letter of reference for Moore is part of the agreement, signed by board president Carla Mills Windfont.
“I recommend Dr. Moore for any position of responsibility, most especially as school superintendent,” the letter reads.
Moore’s original contract ran through the end of the school year in 2019 and allowed him to resign at the end of a school year without penalty.
Moore last year was given a 28 percent pay increase from his starting salary and a contract extension that runs until 2022.
State lawmakers have become concerned about school districts that seek to cover up for teachers fired for transgressions, primarily of a sexual nature. A bill passed last session allows for penalties for districts to endorse a teacher convicted for sexual misdeeds.
The measure was one of two introduced, referring explicitly to a practice known as “passing the trash,” or allowing educators who have had sexual or otherwise improper relationships with students to be flagged and future employers to be properly notified.
The term “pass the trash” has been used in an educational context for decades, although some earlier uses refer to inept or weak teachers moving between school districts.
Legislators have stayed away from the more common practice of releasing, firing or coming to a termination agreement with an administration official who ran afoul of ethical or conduct rules.
Most districts own up when bad politics or volatile internal relationships sour the connection between a superintendent and elected officials. And announcements of superintendent firings are common.
When a district seeks to cover up the ending of a partnership, especially one in which the superintendent has recently received a raise, a contract extension, or both, the public questions the situation.
“We tried so hard to find out what happened,” Crosby resident Kris McGinty said. “Keith Moore was beloved here. And they just locked it down, no real information.”
In Bryan ISD, former superintendent Tommy Wallis battled to keep revelations that he was released for numerous ethical improprieties from the public for over a year. A judge last month ruled that the records can be released and Wallis, who is now superintendent in Kirbyville, is appealing.
Dallas ISD hired Yvonne Gonzalez in 1996 from the school district in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She came lauded from her former employer, despite the fact she had wrung up an $800,000 budget deficit in her last year, much of it through lucrative raises for teachers.
Within two years, Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 months in prison for using district money to buy personal furniture with public money.
In Crosby, there is nothing in Moore’s release papers and agreement to ascertain impropriety on his part. Rather, the district released scant information on Moore’s departure, exposing a government bent on secrecy.
The 6,100-student district has removed Moore’s resignation letter from its web site. Moore has closed his Twitter account.
The district failed to address a Jan. 30 public information request from Texas Monitor within the 10 business day time frame required by statute.
Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected]