The DeSoto Independent School District's new superintendent, Dr. Kathy M. Augustine, starts her new job Monday, but is already surrounded by controversy.
The massive investigation named 178 educators including principals and high ranking school officials as participants in a cheating scandal. In a report released this week, the governor's special investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools examined.
In a statement released Thursday by her attorney in Atlanta, Augustine denied wrong-doing:
"I continue to be shocked and disappointed by the revelation that some Atlanta Public Schools principals and teachers (178) allegedly chose to shortchange children by acting unethically. Nothing in my experience ever prepared me for the possibility that professional educators would ever act this way and cheat students. I assure you that I was neither involved in nor aware of that kind of behavior. I care too much about children and their education to falsify, misrepresent, omit or erroneously report information. During my interviews with the DeSoto Board of Trustees, I was candid about the ongoing investigation as well as the 12 years of accomplishments according to national and state measures in the Atlanta Public Schools. From this painful experience I have learned a hard lesson that I will apply in DeSoto ISD. That is, our testing protocols must reflect best in class security measures. My responsibility as Superintendent will not only rest with setting high standards for all but being vigilant in monitoring the adherence to processes and procedures. I am honored that the Board of Trustees has chosen me to lead the DeSoto Independent School District. I eagerly look forward to working together with the full community of DeSoto --- the board, parents, students, teachers, principals, staff and civic and business partners in the important work of providing a high quality education for all of our children."
In May, trustees approved Augustine for the DeSoto ISD superintendent job in a 4-2 vote.