Misleading survey sparks concern in Argyle

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Sports query falsely listed return address as school district building

ARGYLE — Parents and students came before the school board this week to express support for girls basketball coach Skip Townsend and their frustration about a survey they received in the mail last week.

The survey, which listed the return address of the Argyle school district, asked recipients about their children’s playing time on the girls junior varsity and varsity basketball teams, if they were satisfied with their child’s playing time and whether they were satisfied with Townsend.

After Monday’s meeting, which adjourned shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday, Superintendent Telena Wright said the letters were not sent from the district.

“The survey was sent out anonymously,” she said.

Wright said she began receiving questions about the survey late last week. On Friday, she e-mailed parents with children participating in girls basketball to inform them the survey did not involve anyone with the school district.

“If you have a JV or varsity player, you may have received a survey sent anonymously yesterday or today,” she wrote to parents Friday. “The survey had a return address of 800 Eagle Drive, which is the school administration building. Also the envelopes included were addressed to the school board.

“No one at the school district sent or authorized the survey. The return address was used without any permission or authorization.”

Wright said there are no plans for an investigation to determine the survey’s source.

“The surveys were sent anonymously,” she said. “I don’t know how to determine the identity of the senders.”

There was a standing-room-only crowd at Monday’s meeting that extended into the hall outside the boardroom. District staff members added more chairs to the room to accommodate the more than 40 people present.

Some came to speak in favor of possible options for the 2012-13 budget. Others attended, showing support for Townsend and outrage at the surveys sent to their homes.

District officials said it’s unknown exactly how many surveys were mailed out and to whom.

Kyle Roberts, who spoke before the board Monday, said he’s “furious at the deceit” that came to his house in the form of the survey.

“It’s cowardly deceit that went through my mind,” he said of learning the survey did not come from the district.

He said he’s embarrassed someone had the nerve to do such a thing, and that he wants the source of the surveys to be found out.

“There’s been a lot of great coaches that have coached in this school, and because a few parents banged a drum, they left this community,” he said.

On Monday, the board considered contracts for teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses. The board voted to defer all but four probationary contracts until April, when more information is presented on the 2012-13 budget, board President Randy McKellar said. Townsend’s is among the contracts being considered next month.

Townsend, who won six Class 2A state championship titles as head coach at Brock High School, was hired last spring by Argyle.

In his first season, the Lady Eagles finished with a 17-16 record.

His wife, Sammye Townsend, joined the varsity squad as an assistant coach last spring and also serves as head girls golf coach and junior high girls athletic coordinator.

Sophia Ulman, a senior and forward on the varsity Lady Eagles team, told board members about the impact Skip Townsend has made since coming to Argyle. She said she supports the Townsends “100 percent.”

In Skip Townsend’s time with the team, she said, he’s wanted his athletes to succeed, he’s helped them discover weaknesses on which they can improve and has been “extremely approachable.” She said he doesn’t just teach his athletes basketball, but “how to be a stronger person in life and a true teammate.”

“I think you can’t find a better coach,” Ulman said. “The younger girls, I think, will be at a loss if we don’t have coach Townsend.”

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .

IN OTHER ACTION

Also at Monday’s board meeting:

•  Tom Zimmerer, a consultant handling finances in the interim for the district, presented the board with options for absorbing a projected $1 million deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The board will have public meetings at 7 p.m. Monday and April 2 at the Argyle Intermediate School cafeteria to share budget information with residents and take questions.

•  The board unanimously approved action to name Elizabeth Stewart, a finance director with the Lindale school district, its new chief financial officer. Her official start date is April 10.

•  The board named teacher Beth Morris as interim principal at Argyle Intermediate. She replaces Conrad Streeter, who has accepted a job with the Northwest school district.

•  Board members approved action to defer a 15 percent grading requirement on high school end-of-course State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STARR) exams.

•  The board approved an amendment to Superintendent Telena Wright’s contract relating to insurance benefits.

 


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