Texas district cuts ties with ex-Atlanta official

A Dallas-area school board voted Monday to sever ties with its new superintendent, who was caught in the fallout of a test-cheating scandal in her previous district in Atlanta.

The DeSoto school board voted 3-2 to negotiate the terms of a voluntary exit agreement with Superintendent Kathy Augustine. Two board members were absent.

The board had the same discussion on the agenda last month but adjourned without settling the future of the former deputy Atlanta school superintendent.

The district of about 9,000 students in the suburb south of Dallas hired Augustine in April for $188,000 a year. However, the board placed her on paid leave last month while it re-examined her Atlanta tenure. She has denied having knowledge of test cheating in Atlanta.

School board member Sandra Wheeler said the vote was about leadership, ethics and integrity.

"At this time, I don't feel the leadership ability is there," Wheeler said.

DeSoto school district spokeswoman Beth Trimble said Augustine will remain on leave until terms of the settlement are reached by both parties.

The board announced its decision after meeting in executive session for about 90 minutes.

Board member Aubrey Hooper said that while it was "problematic" that it would cost the district money to end the contract, "we have to make the decision that's in the best interest of our kids."

Board president Warren Seay Jr. said that while it has been a "difficult time" for the district, the focus should now be on student success.

"When the media's gone and all the distractions are gone, DeSoto will be successful," he said..