May 14, 2014

State won’t open case in complaint against Everman principal

Principal’s attorney says she is grateful for closure.

The state’s top educator disciplinary board will not investigate an ethics complaint against an Everman principal accused of using inappropriate language to describe staff and students, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“We have determined that no case will be opened,’’ said DeEtta Culbertson of the Texas Education Agency, which oversees the State Board for Educator Certification.

Mya Asberry, principal of Dan Powell Intermediate School, was the focus of the complaint received by the TEA in early May, Culbertson said. The complaint was filed by Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association in Fort Worth. He said Wednesday he had not received notification from the TEA.

Asberry referred questions to her attorney, Daniel A. Ortiz, of Arlington.

“We are thankful for TEA’s decision,’’ Ortiz wrote in an email. “Ms. Asberry has successfully served students, teachers, and staff in Everman ISD for over 15 years. Ms. Asberry is grateful to bring closure to the matter.”

TEA does not provide specifics about why it won’t pursue complaints, Culbertson said.

Poole’s complaint said Asberry violated the state Educators’ Code of Ethics with “demeaning” and “degrading” text messages about teachers and students sent to three members of her leadership team. Poole said a staff member at the school provided him with screen grabs of the text messages.

Poole provided copies of the text messages in his complaint. The text messages under the name “Asberry Asberry” can be attributed to the principal, the complaint said.

One message from “Asberry Asberry” said that it’s “too bad our kids don’t have good teachers who will even research and use the resources they are provided! Time to go around them!”

Another, again from “Asberry Asberry,” says: “Boy those Spanish ones don’t look good? Perhaps we should try ENGLISH!”

The discussions appeared to revolve around individual teachers and the performance of their students on state-mandated tests.

Powell, where 90 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, was rated “met standard” in the 2012-13 state accountability ratings. The school also earned academic achievement distinctions.

Everman Superintendent Jeri Pfeifer could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Everman board president Rick Burgess did not respond to a request for comment left on Wednesday at the district’s main offices.

Asberry was principal of Ray Elementary School in Everman before moving to Dan Powell Intermediate.

This year, Asberry was one of 10 Texas educators named as 2014 National Distinguished Principals Finalists, according to the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. She lost to Kimmie Etheredge, principal of Granger Elementary School in the Northwest school district. Etheredge received $10,000 and is expected to represent Texas in a national contest in Washington D.C.

Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705

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