Citizens of La Vernia, a town of 1200 Texans just southeast of San Antonio, have been sharing information with Jennifer Moczygemba regarding issues they have with La Vernia Independent School District superintendent Dr. Thomas Harvey, and board of trustee president Mike Jendrusch and the school board itself.
Moczygemba, a local mom, was the person they went to after years of failed attempts by many parents to get answers or resolution to their concerns through letters, emails, phone conversations and even in public school board meetings.
Moczygemba resorted to using the Public Information Act to gather the information that was being withheld or not communicated.
What she discovered was shocking and rocked the ‘good ‘ole boy’ syndrome of La Vernia to the core.
“The school board has been unresponsive to the public on all of these issues,” she stated in May 2012 letters to the FBI, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education and others. “Not surprising, as they have an unshakable allegiance to the district superintendent.”
Moczygemba briefly outlined some of the allegations and concerns in the letter:
“…..embezzlement, a questionable land purchase by the ISD from the ISD’s director of finance, misuse of state grant funds, suicide of an assistant principal, a classroom teacher with a methamphetamine habit and her subsequent arrest, teacher who slapped a student, rampant nepotism, recurrent intimidation by a superintendent and other district leadership, reprimands for teachers and staff that speak out or question the ethics of district practices, and lastly, patterns of declining annual test scores.”
Despite the outrage, the school board, deeply entrenched with their stonewalling and self supporting tactics, continued to stay put in supporting Harvey and Jendrusch.
As the community faces upcoming school board elections, Moczygemba, with the backing of many parents and district staff, shared her thoughts to Examiner on March 20, 2013.
Moczygemba “finds it curious that the school board at the February meeting decided to realign the board.”
“Usually this process takes place after the election in May,” she observes. “There is a rumor, albeit a rumor, that a board member that is not up for election will resign after the election.”
Since the board has not been transparent, the community has relied on whispers, rumors and near gossip, all mostly true, as alternate form of communication.
“We all know that rumors can be false, I understand that,” Moczygemba said. “But let’s just suppose for a moment. Suppose this rumor came true. The board member resigns after the election.”
“The district has a long standing policy of appointing someone to the position that has served on the board in the past.”
Moczygemba has run several scenarios and is especially concerned if all the incumbents were defeated “and one returning member.”
“The one other member resigns” and the “recommendation is made to appoint one of the defeated incumbents.”
The board would vote on the appointment.
“Places 1, 2, 3 have new representation and Place 4 being held by Mr. Friedrichs. How do you think Mr. Friedrichs will vote? Will he vote with the new members or the old? Would a vote for Mr. Friedrichs in the school board election ultimately be a vote to bring back one of the old guard or would he side with the new members?”
“We don’t know the answer, but the possibility remains that he would vote for the old way of doing business,” said Moczygemba.
“Mr. Friedrichs did listen to our concerns last year. I for one appreciated his willingness to listen. He voted against a contract extension for Tom Harvey in a 6-1 vote,” remembers Moczygemba. “But remember, he ultimately signed the letter of confidence for Tom Harvey.”
“Many votes of the school board were and continue to be 7-0,” she stressed.
“It is my opinion a complete change is necessary,” Moczygemba said
Moczygemba has decided to support the following candidates in the May election.
Place 1 – Janette Chall
Place 2 – Kimi Kravitz
Place 3 – Susan Reinhard
Place 4 – Dr. Cody Miller
Place 1 – Janette Chall is a strong leader and qualified educator with experience in the special education field. Mrs. Chall is a great listener and thoughtful in her deliberations. I am confident she will be an excellent voice for the students, parents and employees of LVISD. Mrs. Chall has experience as an education consultant. She has worked with many districts in our area. She has great experience to bring to the LVISD school board.
Place 2 – Kimi Kravitz is an educator by trade with a business background. Mrs. Kravitz is a very hard worker and an advocate for students, parents and employees. Mrs. Kravitz will work tirelessly for LVISD. She is up for any challenge and I believe LVISD will have its fair share of challenge. Mrs. Kravitz will ask the tough questions and demand proper answers.
Place 3 There are 4 candidates for this place. The incumbent, John Bilicek, Dr. David Cribb, Charles “Chuck” Ford, and Susan Reinhard. Susan Reinhard is a qualified educator. She has knowledge of special education issues by trade and experience. She is accessible and willing to serve and wants the best for our kids and employees. She has lived in the district for 13 years and 11 months. She knows the district. I am concerned about Place 3 because of the vast number of candidates running. Vote splitting would be a terrible and dangerous thing. Susan Reinhard is my candidate of choice.
Place 4 The candidates are incumbent Eric Friedrichs and Dr. Cody Miller. I have visited with Dr. Miller. He shares many of the same views that I have as well as those of our community. He is a doctor of education and serves as an administrator in the Harlandale ISD. His priorities include ensuring academic excellence, demanding fiscal responsibility and he wants to expand academic and extracurricular opportunities at all levels. I am endorsing Dr. Cody Miller.