Eanes ISD delegates authority to superintendent during emergency meeting

Superintendent Tom Leonard addressed the public following an emergency called meeting March 14. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Superintendent Tom Leonard addressed the public following an emergency called meeting March 14. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Superintendent Tom Leonard addressed the public following an emergency called meeting March 14. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Recognizing the state of emergency declaration from City of Austin and Travis County officials, the Eanes ISD board of trustees held an emergency meeting March 14 to take prevention measures related to COVID-19.

The board passed a resolution effectively delegating authority to Superintendent Tom Leonard to take mitigative actions when necessary during the ongoing coronavirus situation, a move Leonard said will provide the district with the ability to be more agile.

In the event the board is unable to hold an open quorum due to concerns related to the spread of COVID-19, Leonard now has the authority to take action regarding employee compensation as it is affected by emergency closures, alterations to the 2019-20 school calendar and more.

“Right now a lot of us just don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Leonard said. “This is a proactive rule we can make right at this moment.”

Leonard clarified that at this time the regular board meeting called for March 31 has not been canceled.

The board added two amendments to the resolution which will be signed and posted to the district’s website.

The amendments allow officials to revoke the resolution if deemed necessary and state the superintendent will engage in timely communication regarding actions taken with the board of trustees and possibly the community.

“You’ve seen my decision making in the past. I don’t think I’ve ever been reckless,” Leonard said. “I will keep you informed.”

General Counsel Allyson Collins and the board also discussed the possibility of holding a video conference meeting in the future.

According to the state’s open meetings act, the district would be required to hold a quorum of four board members in the same area in order to host a video meeting. However, Collins stated that these laws could be temporarily loosened by the state as a result of virus concerns.

Plans following spring break

The district is currently on its scheduled spring break until March 20. Leonard stated the community will hear a decision by March 19 at 5 p.m. regarding whether or not EISD will reconvene classes after spring break.

“I’m not confident that we will be back, but I would like to coordinate any announcement that we would not be coming back with other various superintendents,” Leonard said in a press conference following the March 14 emergency board meeting. He added district officials are monitoring available data surrounding the virus carefully.

“The situation 48 hours ago was different than it is now ... tomorrow may be different than it is now.”

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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