EducationLocal NewsEmbattled Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Retires With $199,000 Severance

Brought in from Loudon County Public Schools, Superintendent Eric Williams has presided over controversies both in the Virginia and Texas school districts.
July 13, 2022
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Following more than a year of controversy over curriculum, elections, and a connection to Loudon County, Virginia schools, Clear Creek ISD (CCISD) Superintendent Eric Williams submitted to a voluntary retirement agreement on Monday night. 

Hired in December 2020 to oversee the district located southeast of Houston in Galveston County and responsible for about 40,000 students, Williams previously served six years as superintendent of Loudon County Public Schools (LCPS) with more than 86,000 students in Virginia. 

Williams’ original CCISD contract extended from January 18, 2021, to June 30, 2025 at an annual salary of $306,000 with an additional car allowance of $667 per month, bonus incentives, and an expense account.  

The CCISD board of trustees Monday unanimously approved a retirement agreement that allows Williams to serve as a “Superintendent Emeritus” beginning on August 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023. 

As superintendent emeritus, Williams will continue to receive the salary and benefits outlined in his original contract including a contribution to his supplemental retirement plan. The unusual title and advisory position allows Williams to become fully vested in the state’s Teacher Retirement System so that he can collect a pension based on defined benefits and his most recent salary. 

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Additionally, CCISD will pay him $199,720.32 and for any unused leave days on or before his official resignation date. 

Since joining CCISD, Williams has drawn scrutiny from parents concerned over his tenure in LCPS. Just months before he departed for Texas, in an email leaked by parents Williams acknowledged that while LCPS had not officially adopted Critical Race Theory (CRT), the district’s “action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism in some of our professional learning modules, and our use of instructional resources on the Social Justice standards, do align with the ideology of CRT.”

LCPS has been mired in additional controversy since Williams’ departure because the district transferred a student accused of sexual assault to another school without reporting the allegations. The male student, who “identifies” as female and wears a skirt, was convicted last year of sexually assaulting a second girl, but when the victim’s father tried to address the LCPS board over the matter, he was dragged from the meeting and arrested

Although those events took place after his departure, investigative reporters have alleged that Williams also failed to comply with Virginia state law in reporting sexual assaults. In 2018, three football players at one high school were arrested and charged with sexual assault, but that year LCPS reported zero sexual assaults at the school. 

With a grand jury in Virginia now investigating how LCPS has handled sexual assaults, Williams is expected to be subpoenaed. 

CRT issues followed Williams to Texas, and at the time his contract was approved, the previous superintendent also initiated an “equity audit” conducted by Curriculum Management Solutions, Inc, to analyze and offer remedies for suspected inequities in the district’s services to students.

Although Williams and the CCISD board have vehemently asserted they are not implementing CRT, parents expressed concern over CRT elements in a new district program entitled “Character Strong,” which advertises teaching “social emotional learning” to address school cultures.

In June of this year, parents also sought an investigation into allegations that a presentation encouraged CCISD school counselors to refrain from notifying parents of students who expressed a desire to transition from one biological sex to another. Although parents sought details through Public Information Act requests, CCISD stated they were not in possession of the materials which were “proprietary as intellectual property” of the vendor. 

Williams has also presided over elections controversies that have now drawn a lawsuit. Residents say there are still unanswered questions about the 2021 board elections. Although one parent requested internal backup data from the electronic voting machines to recount a close race in 2021, the district said the data did not exist. 

This year, candidate Misty Dawson who campaigned on promises of greater transparency and in opposition to “politics and social engineering,” lost a contest for the board by a mere 43 votes and has filed a lawsuit against her opponent Jessica Cejka alleging many discrepancies in the election run by CCISD. 

Dawson documents instances in which incorrect ballot styles allowed non-residents of District 1 to vote in her race while leaving off her contest for legitimate District 1 residents. Other incidents included alleging some voters were allowed to vote by mail although they had not applied for a mail ballot in violation of state law. 

Dawson’s lawsuit alleges there were at least 15 voters prevented from voting and 29 illegally cast ballots.

This week, CCISD announced the district would provide $25,000 in public taxpayer funds towards legal fees for Cejka as a member of the board of trustees although the lawsuit is not technically against the district, making such a move a felony offense. Dawson’s attorney Eric Opiela told The Texan the attorney CCISD hired to represent Cejka has been informed and will be withdrawing from the case.  

The board has appointed former assistant superintendent Karen Engle to serve as interim superintendent until a replacement for Williams can be hired.

Williams’ voluntary retirement agreement can be found below.

Correction: The article was corrected to state Engle was the assistant superintendent and clarify the timing of the “equity audit.” We regret the error.

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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.