The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees selected a search firm to aid in the quest for the next superintendent, heard various academic reports and reviewed financial and human resource audits on Monday.

To begin the meeting Lee Auvenshine, WISD Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services, provided an updated list of drug offenses this school year. He reiterated the implementation of the WISD 2018 safety and security plan that was adopted on Aug. 6.

Auvenshine shared there have been 13 drug offenses this school year with two at Waxahachie High in September, three at WHS and one at Coleman in October, five at WHS and one at Coleman in November and one at WHS in December.

“Breaking down the demographics of the offenses, it largely represents the demographics of the district," Auvenshine noted.

So far this year, random drug testing has taken place in October and November. No tests were administered in September since the district waited to receive action from the board to implement a 10-panel drug test, which was approved.

Auvenshine noted there have been two positive tests for marijuana so far.

Drug dogs were utilized once in December and will continue to be used twice a month, he added. Metal detection wanding took place in November as one of the 13-security improvements identified by the trustees. Though the initial search found no weapons, the wands did alert security officers to drug paraphernalia, Juuls, lighters, and vapes were found.

There was one case where marijuana was found on a student.

Auvenshine explained that as of Monday night a total of eight of 13 security measures have been fully implemented. The application of the marshal and guardian plans is still ongoing, random screenings are in progress, counselors are attending mental health training, the district is training volunteer security and a teen leadership program for junior high campuses is operational.

Before the board entered closed session, it voted four-to-three in favor to hire Ray and Associates as the search firm to find the next WISD superintendent. Trustees John Rodgers, Kim Kriegel and Melissa Starnater voted in opposition.

The approved search firm was in every trustee’s top two favorites other than Autrey.

Trustee Dr. Joe Langley was in favor of Ray and Associates because it would perform an assessment survey. Board vice president Clay Schoolfield estimated services from Ray and Associates would cost about $15,000. Kriegel pointed out that the search firm has not placed a superintendent in Texas since 2015.

Before an update on the 13-point security plan, four WHS students stood behind the lectern to voice their confidence in the district administration, WHS principal Adan Casas and the district's security team.

Camille Willett, the student body president, spoke with the support of Morgan Wray, senior class president; Cathryn Bigham, the student body secretary; and Sophie Melick, senior class vice president. Willet spoke on behalf of the student body and noted she felt compelled to address the board in defense of WISD after reading a letter from a concerned parent in the Daily Light.

Willet elaborated on the daily stresses her peers take on and is aware that high school students "can be a handful and cause trouble." However, she noted her generation often learns from those experiences and comes back to school the next day with a smile on their face.

“It’s not a prison environment, but they want to give us a chance to make our own decisions and grow as a student," Willett stated. "We do have issues, and I don’t want to minimize that […], but I do want to point out that it is a real-world kind of issues."

WISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain then stated, “The person who wrote to the paper had real concerns and Mr. Casas, and I would like to offer that parent or that child the opportunity to meet with me or together. We are not — like that young lady said— minimizing those concerns. If there is a parent with a concern, the concern to that parent is a concern to us.”

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450