New LBJ prin­ci­pal’s dis­ci­plinary past doesn’t faze district

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Melissa B. Taboada mtaboada@states­man.com; 445-3620

The new prin­ci­pal tapped to lead LBJ High School in East Austin was dis­ci­plined by her for­mer school district in 2006 for mis­use of district funds.

Sheila J. Henry, who is slated to take her new post on Aug. 4, pend­ing ap­proval by the Board of Trustees on Aug. 2, was sus­pended with­out pay for 20 work­days by the Palm Beach County school district in Florida. She also was di­rected to un­dergo fi­nan­cial man­age­ment train­ing.

Doc­u­ments out­lin­ing her sus­pen­sion said that Henry “mis­used district funds, failed to prop­erly con­trol district funds, vi­o­lated the Code of Ethics of the Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­fes­sion in Florida and/or vi­o­lated the Prin­ci­ples of Pro­fes­sional Con­duct of the Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­fes­sion in Florida by us­ing school funds to pay for gift cards, ban­quets, party ex­penses, gifts and flow­ers and/or fail­ing to prop­erly doc­u­ment ex­penses that to­taled $10,204.27, and/or us­ing Royal Palm Beach’s pur­chas­ing card to buy gifts that to­taled $550.”

The doc­u­ments also state that Henry failed to prop­erly con­trol district funds be­cause $2,128 was un­ac­counted for in the high school’s in­ter­nal ac­count for a field trip and $1,890 was un­ac­counted for in the school’s in­ter­nal ac­count for cheer­lead­ing.

Henry was not dis­missed, and she com­pleted the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment class. She was later moved to an ele­men­tary school, where she most re­cently has been em­ployed.

A search of pub­lic doc­u­ments found no crim­i­nal record for Henry.

Austin school district of­fi­cials said they knew about the sus­pen­sion and said it was “thor­oughly dis­cussed” dur­ing the in­ter­view process. The in­ter­view com­mit­tee and Su­per­in­ten­dent Meria Carstarphen felt very sat­is­fied in Henry’s re­sponses and feel she will be a stronger prin­ci­pal be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­ence, said Kathy An­thony, a district spokes­woman.

“Carstarphen is fully be­hind her,” An­thony said. “They feel it’s set­tled and in the past and she’s go­ing to be great for LBJ.” The district is­sued the fol­low­ing state­ment: “AISD was well-aware of this oc­cur­rence, which hap­pened in 2006, and it was dis­cussed frankly dur­ing the in­ter­view process. Be­cause of the pro­fes­sional steps that Ms. Henry took to im­prove her fi­nan­cial man­age­ment over­sight skills, as a cam­pus prin­ci­pal, AISD be­lieves that this oc­cur­rence will ac­tu­ally make her a stronger, more ef­fec­tive school leader. … This oc­cur­rence was never con­sid­ered crim­i­nal in na­ture; that there was never any per­sonal gain to Ms. Henry; or that there was never any fi­nan­cial im­pact to the Palm Beach County School District.”

Henry will re­place for­mer LBJ Prin­ci­pal Pa­trick Pat­ter­son, who re­tired in June.

In 2007, Henry was named one of six turn­around prin­ci­pals for Palm Beach County. The na­tional school turn­around ini­tia­tive is a lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram that helps man­agers im­prove low-per­form­ing schools.

Henry earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Florida Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity and a mas­ter’s de­gree in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion from Nova South­east­ern Uni­ver­sity; she was se­lected in 2006 to at­tend the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Ur­ban School Lead­ers of the Har­vard Uni­ver­sity Grad­u­ate School of Ed­u­ca­tion.

LBJ has been rated aca­dem­i­cally un­ac­cept­able, but pre­lim­i­nary re­sults show that the cam­pus will meet state aca­demic stan­dards this year. School rat­ings are based on re­sults from the Texas As­sess­ment of Knowl­edge and Skills and at­ten­dance and dropout rates. Rat­ings are ex­pected to be re­leased by the state July 30.

This fall at LBJ, the district is launch­ing an Early Col­lege Start pro­gram, in which stu­dents can earn up to 60 hours of col­lege credit while work­ing to­ward high school grad­u­a­tion..

Sheila Henry was pe­nal­ized by Florida district.

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