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  • Writer's pictureMarshall

Katy ISD: T&H superintendent search yields suboptimal results

Save SBISD will not be sending this update to our email list, because the information is not directly related to SBISD. But, the information is relevant to an analysis of Thompson & Horton so we want to include it in our archive on the website. We have one more story coming next week on Thompson & Horton's direct involvement with SBISD, and will circulate that by email.


I'm Marshall, a member of the Save SBISD team. I do some of the writing and researching for the group, including the information below.


As part of our work to determine how entrenched Thompson & Horton is within SBISD, and other districts generally, I have been searching the public records of other school districts in our area.


The second district I searched was Katy ISD. I learned that Katy ISD had engaged Thompson & Horton on various matters since at least 2011, and having learned that I was about to move on to the next district when this nugget caught my eye in the minutes of their January 16. 2016 meeting:


Presentation by...Mr. David Thompson regardinq...services as consultants in the search for a new superintendent.
...Mr. David Thompson of Thompson & Horton LLP presented.

That looks familiar.


Curious to see how this process turned out, I flipped through some other search results and saw David Thompson of Thompson & Horton was in fact advising Katy ISD on their superintendent search per the February and March minutes of the Katy ISD Board of Trustees.


A Google search quickly revealed that on July 1, 2016, Katy ISD signed a contract with Lawrence "Lance" Hindt Ed.D., to serve as Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Hindt's 5-year contract paid him $375,000 per year, with escalators based on teacher pay. Dr. Hindt was the Superintendent of Allen ISD near Dallas when Katy hired him, and a graduate of Katy Taylor High School.


Yet, Dr. Hindt was no longer serving as Superintendent when I peeked at Katy ISD's website, a gentleman named Ken Gregorski is the current Superintendent.


Assuming that Dr. Hindt had since moved on to a larger district for more responsibility and potentially more money, I performed another google search to see where he landed. My instincts were modestly astray from reality.


Dr. Hindt resigned his position as Katy's Superintendent of Schools in on January 1, 2019, after a firestorm emerged pertaining to his alleged:

  • Physical bullying of classmates while enrolled at Katy Taylor HS,

  • Involvement in a 1983 assault for which civil litigation was filed, and

  • Plagiarism of his Doctoral thesis while a student at UofH.

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved a $789,000 "final payment" to Dr. Hindt, according to an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News.


The State of Texas was so furious with the size of the buyout, that it withheld another $513,000 in state funding from Katy ISD, raising the total to over $1,300,000 of 'go-away money', according to that same DMN piece,


Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not the most up to speed guy on the political and social circles of our fair neighbor to the west. For all I know, this was just a dust up among old high school rivals, who found themselves in positions of power all these years later. I don't have the desire to figure that out; it does not apply to our work.


What does apply to our work is the statement by the Katy ISD Board President, Ashley Vann,

that "the Board fully vetted Dr. Lance Hindt", according to Fox26 reporting in 2018.


Katy's minutes are not as candid or organized SBISD's are. So, we were not able to quickly determine how the final decision to hire Dr. Hindt was made. Two possibilities are:

  • Thompson & Horton was involved in the 'full vetting' of Dr. Hindt and signed off on him as the Sole Finalist for the job, in which case they would have done terrible research, or

  • Thompson & Horton was involved in the full vetting of Dr. Hindt, had reservations about him, but Katy hired him anyway, in which case they would have been terrible at making a persuasive argument.

Neither case is good for SBISD, as a client of the firm, as it navigates litigation in federal court.


A third possibility is that Thompson & Horton was not involved in the vetting process at all, which would bring into question their value-add in a search of this nature, or, would say something about the diligence process of the Katy ISD Board.


Dr. Hindt was replaced by Superintendent Gregorski, who was promoted from within KISD, shortly thereafter. There is no record of Thompson & Horton being involved in that 2019 process, according to a search of KISD minutes.


Have a great 4th of July!


Marshall

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