Houston Chronicle: No our school district has not been ‘rocked again by sudden upheaval’

Houston Chronicle inaccurate headline on May 22, 2018



The Houston Chronicle’s coverage of issues in Katy has probably never been more wrong than what was reported about last night’s school board meeting in which there was a transition of school board leadership that generated the Chronicle headline “Katy ISD is rocked again by sudden upheaval.”

On Monday night, two school board members who did not run for re-election departed and two new members took the oath of office. So, the board rotated its leadership team once again, just as it did last year when Ashley Vann was given an opportunity to lead the board after Rebecca Fox’s 12-month term had expired. Fox has served as board president on more than one occasion, which proves that once you are president you don’t always remain in that role, nor does it mean that stepping down sends you to the dust heap of history. Vann was elected by her fellow board members to serve as secretary last night, and they had supportive comments about her leadership as president.

Board members may have their differences behind closed doors, but in public they play well together and historically share the responsibilities of leadership with any member who is willing to serve in that capacity.

Ashley Vann stepped down as president last night to make way for Courtney Doyle, who is the only board member who has served two terms and has not had an opportunity to be president. She was the vice president last year, and her promotion was not a surprise. The school district was not, as the Chronicle claimed, “rocked again by sudden upheaval.”

Drive-by media is defined as reporters who don’t regularly follow a particular subject, but swing by an event and attempt to make sense of what they’ve covered, without the background knowledge to add context and truth to their stories. The Chronicle proved last night that making assumptions based on lack of context leads to fake news and ridiculous headlines. In this case, the fake news was that Vann deciding to step down as president had “rocked” the district with “sudden upheaval.”

The past year has also been exhausting as Vann has been president during a very busy year.  Vann led the board during the first bond election since the controversial football stadium vote. There were also several issues that generated salacious national media stories in the past year. A boy shot a pig in the agriculture barn, and PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, got involved. A parent wanted action on a junior high school library book with a lot of swear words and racially charged language, and the author spread the false narrative that the district had banned the book. Then there was the worldwide coverage of the bullying accusation with corresponding premeditated video production that eventually lead to Superintendent Hindt announcing that his family had been attacked and he’d retire on Jan. 1, 2019.

“To put it simply, I’m tired y’all,” said Vann. “My family’s tired. The past two months have shown me a lot about myself, and the one thing that I know is that the wind is out of my sails.”

One year ago, Mrs. Doyle was elected vice president of the school board. Last night she became president. Last night Bill Lacy was elected vice president of the school board. It’s very likely that one year from now, Lacy will be elected president. It’s also very likely that his ascension to the top chair will have nothing to do with the leadership of Mrs. Doyle and the district will not be “rocked by sudden upheaval” if Doyle passes the baton. It’s simply an orderly transition of leadership, but apparently it takes a group of journalists who live in Katy to recognize it as such and provide the proper context that results in an accurate, truthful story.

Context is what Covering Katy provides. We live here and we provide context to news stories that the Houston media is unwilling to provide.

We’ve learned that you get better service when you buy local. The same can be said of news.  The more local journalists are, the more context they can provide. Our reporters live here. Our time is not split covering news all over the region. We cover Katy, literally because no one else was providing the coverage that this community deserves.

Just like the Chronicle has subscribers, we too need the same support from our readers, and we believe your money is better spent with us if local news is your primary reason for purchasing a subscription.

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