No Retreat, No Surrender....I don’t
think I am the only person in Fort Bend County who thinks
the title of Tom DeLay’s book, “No Retreat, No Surrender,”
is dripping with irony. Tom gives his book that real macho
title, yet he dropped out of the congressional race in Dist.
22 last year rather than face Democrat Nick Lampson because
polling numbers showed that he might possibly lose.
His dropping out when he did made it
impossible for the Republicans to name a replacement on the
ballot, so he, in effect, left the Republican Party, which
had always been loyal to him, high and dry. I wouldn’t call
that the actions of a “No Retreat, No Surrender” man.
Perhaps a more appropriate title to
DeLay’s book should be “Cut and Run.”
Shaking up in Fort Bend ISD....“She
was not escorted out of the building, which was rumored, and
she’s still a district employee,” so said Fort Bend ISD
spokesperson Mary Ann Simpson when asked why former acting
superintendent Dr. Manuela Pedraza, who went from being the
head of Human Resources to acting superintendent last year,
was no longer answering the telephone in Human Resources.
Dr. Pedraza had returned to her former job as head of HR
with the hiring of new Superintendent Tim Jenny in
September. When I called Monday, her department said she was
retired, effective Friday before Spring Break.
And I was interested because.....I
heard she left the building (choose one) 1. in a huff, 2. in
tears, 3. with all her things.
The new superintendent is shaking things
up in the upper echelon of management of the school
district. So far, about the only thing that has changed is
new titles and maybe new reporting procedures. Salaries, of
course, remain the same.
There are no longer the seven associate
superintendents who report directly to the superintendent.
There are now four assistant superintendents and three
chiefs. Some of the assistant superintendents now report to
the chiefs, or maybe vice-versa. Who cares unless you are
the one losing face time with the superintendent.
In any event, it is de rigueur for a new
superintendent to bring in his/her own management team. It
seems our new superintendent is doing that to a certain
extent. Former superintendent Betty Baitland made few
changes, probably because she was promoted from within the
district and maybe because she recognized changes were
After a year of no leadership, except
what was supplied temporarily by an acting superintendent,
the district seems to be welcoming new direction.
Dr. Pedraza was acting superintendent of
FBISD for nine months last year--nine months fraught with
tensions and in-fighting by a school board which appeared to
almost melt down under the leadership of Lisa Rickert.
Conventional wisdom would imply that a
well-deserved retirement is due and perhaps Dr. Pedraza,
with her many years of experience, didn’t want to weather
another leadership change.
And speaking of leadership change.....The
upcoming city and school board elections will be May 12.
This means the last day to register to vote, if you are new
to the county, is April 12. I’m not going to remind you
Voter registration applications are
available in all city halls, libraries, and post offices,
both for new registration and to update your address. Or you
can download a form from the country’s website and mail it
in (no faxing).
Fort Bend ISD lost at least an entire
school year because of the actions of two board members who
are running again--Lisa Rickert and Ken Bryant. They formed
a cabal with newly elected board members Stan Magee and
Laurie Caldwell to fire the superintendent without any idea
of who or how to replace her. They spent thousands of
dollars on legal fees to try to trump up charges on her.
Rather than putting her on notice and asking her to run the
district until a new superintendent could be hired, they
“retired” her forthwith and replaced her with Dr. Pedraza
who seemed to be a less than strong personality when dealing
with the board. Chaos ensued.
In fact, it was several months before
they even got down to the business of hiring a permanent
It was so bad that a group of Fort Bend
leaders, recognizing that our school district is our future,
banded together to support a former board member to bring
some semblance of order to the board meetings.
Both Rickert and Bryant have opponents.
Bryant, who ran and was defeated for state representative by
Dora Olivo, was accused of using the school board race as a
stepping stone. If that were so, he sure stepped in it.
But both those incumbents must go. We
need people on the school board who will fly under the radar
and spend their time helping education, not puffing their
And Lisa Rickert--she lead the board to
“retire” Dr. Baitland. She made it so insulting to work
there, Dr. Baitland did it readily. She kept board meetings
until past 2 a.m. She dismissed a board meeting illegally
right in the middle of the meeting. There is a long list of
actions she took which were, in my opinion as a 30-year
observer of FBISD, the most outrageous I’ve seen happen in
the district. She is being very quiet now. Maybe she
realizes how misguided she was. Maybe she just wants to get
reelected. But two years of chaos in the school district can
be laid directly at her feet.
B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the
Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at