Video parodies Fort Bend's superintendent

April 6, 2011 4:53:21 AM PDT
On Monday, we told you about the massive cuts and layoffs Fort Bend ISD school board trustees approved, including eliminating 400 jobs. Well now, an unusual video criticizing the superintendent and the cuts is getting a lot of attention.

Fourteen-year-old Desiree Pleasant has heard about the cost-cutting at her school.

"They're talking about cutting off summer school, like HISD did, and cutting off some of the broadcasting in our electives," Pleasant said.

But she's never thought about it in relation to the salary of Fort Bend ISD's superintendent, Dr. Timothy Jenney. A video on YouTube puts the two together.

The video, a takeoff on the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," shows a man with Dr. Jenney's picture superimposed over his face. He's decked out in gold chains, drives a Cadillac and is loaded with cash. The video focuses on Dr. Jenney's salary, allowances and bonuses totaling well over $300,000 at the same time teachers are getting pink slips.

Cut to reality. On Monday night, the Fort Bend ISD school board cut 68 teachers. More than 300 have taken incentives to resign in an effort to slash $40 to 50 million from the district's budget.

The video is less than two minutes, but Fort Bend Employee Federation President Karrie Washenfelder believes it says a lot.

"It speaks to the frustration of a lot of teachers and educators and voters who feel that we're spending too much on our administration and not putting more dollars in the classroom," Washenfelder said.

Dr. Jenney declined an on-camera interview. His first response was that the video is humorous.

"Superintendents have pretty big bulls-eyes on their backs. It doesn't bother me. I don't plan to address it. It is what it is," he said.

But it was eye-opening when we showed it to Rochelle Pleasant, Desiree's mother.

"I'm shocked. I didn't know that he was making such money," Rochelle Pleasant said.

Now it's making the rounds.

"We were on YouTube. It was like the first things that popped up," Desiree Pleasant said.

Whether you agree with it or not, many say they understood its purpose.

"I'm not a big fan of them slicing and dicing somebody who's trying to make things work but I got the message from that," Rochelle Pleasant said.

No one has claimed responsibility for that video so far. Dr. Jenney's salary isn't even in the top 20 of superintendents across the state. According to the Texas Education Agency, he comes in at 37th, with Beaumont ISD's superintendent Carroll Thomas coming in at the No. 1 spot with $346, 778 in base pay.

Teachers unions across the state, including the one in Fort Bend, are challenging administrators to also make sacrifices in these lean times.

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