Tommy Wallis

Four days before the Bryan school board asked former superintendent Tommy Wallis to resign in September 2016, four senior district officials sent trustees a memorandum requesting "relief from the hostile work conditions" created by Wallis.

The memorandum, which is among hundreds of pages of documents released by the school district to The Eagle and other media outlets Thursday night, was sent Sept. 15, 2016, by district leaders who urged the trustees to take immediate action and place Wallis on suspension with pay due to what they described as his repeated failure to meet the district's standards of professional conduct.

"Many of the employee standards of conduct have required members of cabinet to work under distress, in an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment," the cabinet members wrote.

According to the memo, the cabinet members brought their concerns with Wallis forward "with great trepidation."

"After years of attempting to resolve these issues among ourselves, the cabinet members are compelled to provide said report to our Board of Trustees," they wrote. "This action is made with a hope that the district will no longer suffer under the superintendent's totalitarian leadership and abuse of authority."

The district's release of the documents marks the apparent end to the fight for public records that began when The Eagle and other local media requested them under the Texas Public Information Act. The requests were made after Wallis went on personal leave without explanation following the Sept. 19, 2016, meeting at which he was asked to resign.

Wallis sued the Texas Attorney General's Office and the school district to keep the documents private, and in January 2017 he obtained a court order to temporarily halt their release. After alleged ethical violations were leaked to The Eagle and KBTX-TV last June in violation of the court order, Wallis asked a district judge to find the school district and five of its leaders in contempt of court, arguing they should face jail time and fines following the media reports.

That motion was denied, and a district judge ruled in December that the school district could release some of the documents that had been blocked by the temporary injunction.

The complaints against Wallis were brought forward by four administrators who made up the leadership cabinet at the time: then-Deputy Superintendent Timothy Rocka; Amy Drozd, assistant superintendent of business services; Barbara Ybarra, associate superintendent of teaching and learning; and Brandon Webb, executive director of communications and public affairs.

The memorandum states that because of the "severity" of Wallis' violations and the "seriousness of the matter," the cabinet members feared losing their jobs and believed Wallis would retaliate against them -- "thus placing their careers in jeopardy, and equally placing the entire district at risk of collapse due to his possible adverse actions."

The grievances against Wallis -- all of which, if true, would violate board policies -- range from giving preferential treatment to a vendor competing for business with the district and misuse of tax dollars to giving a raise without board approval and verbally abusing employees.

Wallis also ordered Webb to apply for jobs for him at other school districts across the state, using district equipment, employees, emails and supplies to help in the effort during business hours. Webb applied for up to 12 jobs on behalf of Wallis over a three-year period.

The Eagle previously reported on those and other ethics violations in June after anonymous sources shared a 10 1/2-page complaint. The document was officially released Thursday by the district, along with two audio recordings that provide context for the complaints about Wallis' moral character.

In one recording, Wallis raises his voice during a discussion about a $2 million shortfall in the health care fund. Wallis, the complaint says, was not in favor of a measure that had been suggested. In the recording, Wallis becomes agitated and cuts off Drozd, the administrator who had been speaking.

"When I say no, it means no," Wallis says in the recording. "Don't bring it back to me. I've already said no. And when I say no, just end it."

The complaint states that the conversation was reflective of the exchanges during cabinet meetings when Wallis was with the district, and illustrates his "habit of loud, abrasive and aggressive argumentative tactics to silence staff."

In the second recording, Wallis calls Trustee David Stasny a "sorry sack of [expletive]" when expressing his frustration that Stasny had put his employment contract on the school board's agenda.

Other documents that were released include the district's curriculum plan, a list of employees who resigned in 2015 and evaluations of their experiences in the district, the results of the 2015-16 employee survey from an elementary school, parent survey results from a middle school, and emails school board members received citing concerns with Wallis' leadership.

"I would ask that his substitute or replacement is more nurturing of the teachers within the district," one first-grade teacher wrote. "I and others feel a bit bullied and bruised by the Wallis regime and feel like someone who would treat teachers as if they are knowledgeable and not administer change after change each year in new programs would benefit the students in the district."

Though he initially refused to step down, Wallis resigned from the district on Sept. 30, 2016, and received $83,049 and a letter of recommendation per his separation agreement. He is now the superintendent of the Kirbyville school district in East Texas.

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(1) comment

agtrad

WE know kRusty but what about councilman Marin, case still not filed and look at those mugshots, my god, Rafael Pena had a three part special series but Marin's case hasnt even been filed Wallis is gone so leave that in Kirbyville. We cant let our city council have citizens believe that domestic violence is ok.

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