Houston ISD is fast-tracking finding a successor to Bellaire HS Principal Michael McDonough, who announced on Oct. 10 that he would retire from the district effective Jan. 1 after 30 years of service, 10 at the helm of BHS. Three days later, behind closed doors, trustees reportedly reviewed and accepted terms of his release, and four days after that, a community meeting was held on campus to describe the process and hear public input.
The speed was in sharp contrast to the district’s actions after suddenly reassigning McDonough to a desk job in May for “allegations of failure to adhere to district policy.” Despite community pleas before the school board for his return, an online petition drive, and a large walkout of students toward the end of the school year in the spring, there was no information forthcoming about McDonough’s status. HISD cited personnel privacy legalities to explain its silence.
McDonough had come under fire for charges of racism involving the Bellaire baseball team, and from a parent who went to the media complaining that her child had been the victim of bullying and violence on the campus.
One insight into the McDonough investigation was provided by the Bellaire PTO. The parents’ group released documentation from HISD Legal Services, revealed in the student ThreePenny Press news outlet, showing nearly $70,000 paid to the law firm of Butler Snow for investigative services over a two-month period.
HISD said it is following a standard procedure in finding McDonough’s replacement, which at some point will include community review of candidates.