San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

by BRAD ROLLINS

San Marcos CISD board members delivered a mild rebuke to fellow trustee Paul Mayhew on Monday following a weeks-long investigation into allegations that he pulled rank to keep his daughter on the high school varsity cheer team.

Paul Mayhew

Paul Mayhew

What did the SMHS cheerleader investigation uncover? We don’t know yet.

The San Marcos Mercury has filed a Texas Public Information Act request for the investigation report compiled by consultant Peggy L. Stark-Wilson, a former San Antonio ISD deputy superintendent.

Superintendent Mark Eads said the school district will seek a ruling from the state attorney general on whether the report falls under exceptions to Texas’ sunshine laws. Attorney Charles Soechting, who represented trustee Paul Mayhew at a special board meeting on Monday, also declined to provide a copy of the report to the Mercury.

Stark-Wilson, an education consultant who is not licensed by the state as a private investigator, was paid $100 an hour for her services. The Mercury has also requested documents detailing the cost to taxpayers for the cheerleading investigation.

After meeting in executive session for nearly an hour behind closed doors, the board voted 5-1 to require Mayhew to “adhere to board policy regarding ethical standards established by the board” and attend training on school district governance and professional conduct.

Trustee John Crowley cast the lone vote against trustee Lupe Costilla’s motion, saying the independent investigation he initiated more than two months ago falls short of the broad inquiry he expected into the cheerleader selection debacle. In addition, Crowley said portions of the report rely heavily on hearsay and unsubstantiated claims.

“Why were there so many irregularities in the cheerleading [selection] process? I’m disappointed that this report does not [explain] exactly what happened, not just in relation to Paul Mayhew, but also what did and didn’t happen in relation to the cheerleader tryouts,” Crowley said.

Said Costilla, “Other people might perceive this to be a witch hunt on one of our colleagues. I don’t see it that way. We didn’t create this situation.”

In a May 12 special meeting, trustees heard a formal complaint against Mayhew filed by Stephanie Kinslow, a San Marcos High School math teacher who coaches the cheerleading team. She claimed, in part, that Mayhew was abusive and intimating to her and other school district employees when the trustee’s daughter was not among eight girls named in April to the varsity cheer team for the 2014-2015 school year.

After Mayhew pressed the issue, Superintendent Mark Eads decided to allow four more members on the varsity squad, including Mayhew’s daughter.

In a letter to cheerleaders and their parents, Eads said he had “determined that there was no manipulation or adjustment of the process to purposely eliminate or provide an advantage to any cheer participant.” Nevertheless, Eads wrote, the high school’s “Cheer Constitution” requires a 12-member varsity squad, four more than were initially selected. In addition, he said, elements of the tryout process implemented this year deviate from established, written procedures for selecting the cheerleading team.

Rebutting the allegation that he improperly used his elected office on behalf of his daughter, Mayhew said he only asked to review scoring sheets used by judges to evaluate cheerleader hopefuls, information to which he said he was entitled under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

After initially being told the documents had been burned shortly after tryouts — a violation of the district’s records retention policy, he said — a pile of weathered, tattered documents were recovered from a trash pile in Seguin where they had escaped incineration because of the weather. His daughter’s scores on the salvaged documents did not match those on a scoring summary he had previously been given, Mayhew said.

At the May meeting, the board approved Crowley’s motion to instruct Eads to engage an outside party to investigate allegations against Mayhew. Eads hired former San Antonio ISD deputy superintendent Peggy L. Stark-Wilson, who compiled a report the superintendent has so far declined to release publicly.

Even if Crowley intended for an investigation to cover the full spectrum of apparent abnormalities — and absurdities — surrounding the cheerleading selection ordeal, one of his colleagues on Monday said that’s not what his motion called for. Trustee Judy Allen said Eads followed the direction given by the board when they approved Crowley’s motion.

“I assume the board will want to be very careful about the way we state motions,” Allen said.

San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting, who was on-hand to represent Mayhew but did not speak during the meeting, said afterward that his client could appeal the board’s actions to the Texas Education Agency commissioner.

“It’s certainly not a hell of a lot of punishment, but it’s certainly more than you should get when you’ve done nothing wrong,” Soechting said.

He added: “I think it shows that San Marcos has joined much of the state of Texas in the cheerleader drama business. Anytime a bunch of drama mamas can cause this kind of disruption of a school district, it’s a shame.”



COVER: MERCURY PHOTO ILLUSTRATION by BRAD ROLLINS

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29 thoughts on “San Marcos CISD trustees reproach Mayhew for role in cheerleader ‘drama’

  1. What’s most offensive is the attorney’s assertion about “drama mamas” when in this case, it’s in fact the attorney’s “drama dada” causing the uproar.

  2. This guy is a douche … suffers from ‘little man’ syndrome. Huge attitude, tiny stature. Sad that his arrogance negatively affects his children. Poor human being- truly believes he and his family is entitled. Unbridled arrogance.

  3. What this tells me is three things:

    1. The cheerleading tryout process is flawed.

    2. John Crowley doesn’t know how to make a motion correctly.

    3. Paul Mayhew crossed the line and used and abused his power as an elected official.

    You know what they say, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know.”

  4. I voted for both Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Chiu during the previous at-large election because Mr. Mayhew had multiple children in out schools and Mr. Chiu had a vision for our schools & was committed to making things happen. I’m saddened to see that one of the individuals I voted for has now used his office for personal gain, maybe not for him, but for his daughter.

  5. Brad,

    I understand that the San Marcos Mercury has a pay to play feature these days but when the report is made public I hope you will post it for all readers to see, and if not, possibly excerpts from the report that will bring Mr. Mayhew’s actions into the spotlight.

    The voting blocs on the school board have consistently been Costilla and Crowley v. Hansen, Allen, Mayhew, and Villalpando. I am surprised that Costilla, Hansen, Allen, and Villalpando all voted ‘against’ Paul for his actions. If they could all finally agree on something maybe there is actually something going on here…

  6. I feel sad for his kids that Mayhew’s petty needs “to be right” and “to win” were more important to him than setting a good example for them. Losing gracefully is one of life’s more difficult lessons and he was actually depriving his daughter of this lesson. Also, the comments of his attorney will probably l cause further alienation to Mayhew and his family. He sounds like a “good ol’ boy.” All the “good ol’ boys” can ride off into the sunset together. Moms rule!

  7. So because Mayhew is on the school board, he shouldn’t have the right to request a review of his daughter’s scores? And it shouldn’t create more suspicion when the scorecards were rushed off to the dumpster to keep anyone from looking at them? I’m pretty sure I would have done the same thing as Mayhew did if my daughter (who has shown no inclination to cheer, thank God) were denied an honor she had worked hard for under fishy circumstances. The only advantage Mayhew had is that his position allowed him a more intimate working knowledge of the system so his claim was more effective…..

    Did those of you criticizing Mayhew completely miss the part where Superintendent Eads said that “the high school’s Cheer Constitution requires a 12-member varsity squad, four more than were initially selected” and “elements of the tryout process implement (sic) this year deviate from established, written procedures for selecting the cheerleading team.” So why would that be, anyway?

    I’m with Crowley…I want to know more than why Mayhew had to do what he did….I want to know why established protocols are no longer being followed.

    The problems with the cheer squad at SMHS go far, far beyond Paul Mayhew. I recommend that someone take a look at that handful of bossy moms who have the cheer coach in their back pockets, and think *they* run the program. Start with the ones who were on TV a month or two back complaining that their little darlings wouldn’t be able to travel the globe due to the “unfair” larger squad that they had to accept…..

  8. Interesting that Paul Mayhew is relocating his children to a different school district…. good riddance! I guess money/influence couldn’t buy his daughter onto the Varisty squad for long, maybe he will have better luck elsewhere. It’s unfortunate that he has spent so much time on cheerleading interests when he could be working on areas that actually need reform.

  9. Yay! The “bully moms” win….but everyone still wants to throw feces at their victims instead….just because we as Americans simply hate an elected official.

    And we wonder why our “best and brightest” don’t run for office anymore….

  10. Interesting how clever some folks try to be by attempting to shift this issue to a teacher or “bully moms”. When you are in an elected position, you have an obligation to be transparent and serve in the interest of those that elected you. In this case, even if Mr. Mayhew had a legitimate argument, he handled it poorly. He used his position to achieve personal gain. Instead of making it about the cheerleader selection process, he was consumed with getting his child on the squad and did everything within his power to make it happen. Although this is far from a severe corruption or political impropriety charge, the findings of the report certainly reveal the true lack of character of his actions. He hired an attorney?? Maybe there’s something more to this if he felt the need for legal representation.

  11. Isn’t Mr. Mayhew VP of the board?

    Anyone want to start taking bets that Crowley becomes the next VP of the school board?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Mayhew promised Crowley the spot if he didn’t vote against him.

  12. Anyone who uses their child as a scapegoat for poor and unethical behavior isn’t qualified to hold public office.

  13. The entire school board should be focused on important issues not Mayhew’s cheerleading drama. Waste of effort, time, and taxpayer money! How about using your effort, time, and taxpayer money to help teachers and their students succeed ACADEMICALLY this coming school year? This cheerleading issue is ridiculous. Mayhew should resign and allow the board to focus on serving our teachers and students.

  14. If there isn’t anything inflammatory in the report regarding misconduct or unethical behavior why doesn’t Mr. Mayhew just waive his privilege to privacy and make the report public?

  15. Soechting can call them ‘drama mamas’ or anything else he wants. I’m sure the majority of San Marcos residents would stand behind the ‘drama mamas’ concern for fairness and equality as opposed to supporting Mayhew’s power trip. The ‘drama mamas’ did the right thing in reporting an unethical issue–a clear abuse of power by Mayhew. Mayhew alone has caused a disruption for SMCISD and our community. And that, is the real shame in this case.

  16. It seems like Mr. Mayhew and his legal counsel are convinced that his daughter is the real victim in this situation. I agree. Unfortunately it is because of Paul’s actions that she has been put into this position. My heart breaks that it’s because of her father’s unethical behavior that she now has to carry this burden for the rest of her high school career.

  17. “Fairness and equality” would have been using the prescribed guidelines for selecting cheerleaders.

    How is having a full squad of 12 instead of 8 varsity cheerleaders “unfair”?

    Funny how, in our rush to execute a witch hunt on an elected official, we seem to be willing to overlook the real story here – and that’s the manipulation of the selection process in the first place.

    I can say with certainty that there is a group of 2 or 3 cheer moms/families who have turned that squad into an absolute mess, all for the gain of *their* daughters. They’ve put the coach in their pocket, made it next to impossible for anything to get done, and alienated the other parents consistently. The program itself is a mockery of what it should be, and the only hope is that these three will go away when their daughters graduate and the program can recover.

    Now, I’ll admit that in the grand scheme of things, none of this will matter in six months, much less ten years from now…..but I guess posting about it beats actually working…..

  18. Mr. Mayhew did nothing wrong. For those of you who are such advocates for our children, can you tell me how much the school district paid for a new football scoreboard? I’d love to know why the school administrators have not been reprimanded for FERPA issues. Easy to tell lies about an elected official when you are protected from him suing you now isn’t it – indicative of the process from start to finish. Are any of you aware of what they have done to his daughter? If anyone would like to hear the FULL story, here is my landline 512 392 1585. I don’t have a voice mail nor a machine my e-mail is lisa_coppoletta@yahoo.com. The district should be reprimanded on so many levels with how this has been handled. Is the district going to bus the kids from all the other counties to the new school proposed at La Cima? The development they claim will boost test scores. If that is the case, then lets let all children have a world class education and interaction with the wealthy 1% kids. That is what you should be outraged about.

  19. I agree with Dano’s and Lisa C’s valid comments about required rules regarding the cheer squad not being followed and the right of a parent to question improprieties. Sounds like a purposeful effort and cover-up on the cheer coach’s part to keep young Ms. Mayhew off the squad.

    The Mayhews are good Christian people who are doing an excellent job raising sweet community-minded children. They have their “oars in the water” trying to make San Marcos a better place to live.

    SMCISD’s loss if these kids go elsewhere. Bravo to Paul Mayhew for his service and willingness to go to bat for his child and any other child who could be affected by unfair practices.

    Shame on the other commenters here who are taking advantage of a public forum just to say hurtful, untrue things attacking someone’s character.

  20. Lisa why do you have to tell us the full story? Why can’t Mr. Mayhew do that?

    If Paul sues the district he needs to resign from the board…

  21. It is very bold of Mrs. Coppeletta to share her opinion and contact information on a public forum. However, it is the same excuse technique used to obfuscate Mr. Mayhew’s actions. Of course there are many District issues that need to be addressed, and if we delved deeper into each one (scoreboard, etc..) some may even point back to the officials that were elected to make those decisions. Instead of dredging up every failed move of the school district, let’s stay on topic with the story at hand and save the footnotes for future articles/ investigations. I am certain his daughter suffered from his childish tantrum-like behavior. It is unfortunate, but the family has always had a sense of entitlement. My boys were in scouts with his son and Mr. Mayhew routinely exhibited the same attitude he allegedly had toward the cheerleader organization. Our daughter went to the same private school during the time his children attended, and his actions were no different.

    Hopefully the district will release the findings of the report so the FULL story can be told. Yes… there are other -more serious- SMCISD issues to discuss and debate. But let’s not throw them all in a barrel and pretend they’re related. Mr. Mayhew may not have done anything illegal. His integrity and character are in question because he attempted to use his position to resolve a personal matter with the school. But since he is “lawyered-up”, maybe there’s really is more to this story.

  22. From what I can piece, Cheer Moms bullied the sponsor into trimming the squad to 8 so their girls could go to exotic locations on the district’s dime, and Cheer Moms could continue to live vicariously through their girls. Young Ms. Mayhew would have made the 12 but didn’t make the 8. Board Member Mayhew investigated his feeling that she actually should have made the 8 and Sponsor hid results. Mayhew smelled a rat, and then tried to bully the sponsor since he had seen it work when employed by the other cheer moms. Sponsor is okay being bullied by other cheer moms, but not okay when it is a board member, so she blew the whistle. And now we have had 4 months of drama and we wasted money on a poor report from an unqualified educational bureaucrat.

    What did we learn? Apparently you lose your ability to fight for your kid if you serve on the board. Maybe that is right because you wield a big stick, or maybe it is wrong, but before Ms. Costilla throws stones, I recall her being at the high school on many occasions for stuff with her son. And what of Cheer Moms — are they free to continue to bring havoc and bully the sponsor? I would be in favor of a one-year suspension of the cheer program. That should be a rule, any time we are forced to read about cheerleading drama in the media, then no cheerleading for a year. And believe me, the games will go on just fine.

  23. Very succinctly put, skeptical. That’s pretty much the story as I see it too.

    Methinks Mrs. Contreras and Mrs. Weathers would be singing a different tune had *their* daughters not made the “8”. Of course, they’re also the ones who’ve been bullying the cheer sponsor for a couple years now, and they’re the ones who acted like it was some grave injustice that the squad was made to include 12 (going so far as to claim that their daughter “cried” when they heard the news)….so there you go……

  24. Would you get a lawyer if you did not do anything wrong? Would Mayhew? Let’s stop kissing up to some people and disrespecting other people. If Mayhew did nothing wrong, he just needs to be honest and share the truth.

  25. Although Mr. Mayhew might have been acting as a parent it was when he strong armed the cheer sponsor and then went directly to the superintendent to fix things that the unethical behavior and abuse of power began to occur. There is a long history of the good ole boy system working out in the Mayhew family’s favor. Look into the Hays County Jail records during his term on the council. Must be nice to have Paul pulling the strings as an elected official…

  26. It’s a terrible thing to have your daughter really, really want to make the cheerleading squad and then have her hopes dashed when she doesn’t.

    Terrible, but far from fatal.

    This happened to our daughter when she attended high school in Austin.; She was a cheerleader in middle school and had danced since she the moment she could walk, and we all thought she made a strong prospect for making the squad in high school.

    Cheer squads are cliquish by nature and I imagine many of them bend the rules in favor of established relationships and personal favorites. It’s ain’t right, but it happens. I’ve noticed this happens in the workplace, too. And in volunteer organizations. And in politics. It kinda happens everywhere, all the time. Thing is, dads aren’t always around to fix it. Nor should they be.

    There were tears the day our daughter learned she wasn’t chosen for the high school cheerleading squad. She was inconsolable for a night, then depressed and a little embarrassed for a couple of days. Then she picked herself up, auditioned for the school’s award-winning drill/dance team, and made it.

    That taught her resilience.

    Eventually she became an officer on the team — the result of winning an election among girls she didn’t know well and requiring her to work with and win over people she normally wouldn’t choose as friends.

    That taught her people skills.

    After high school, she earned a degree in dance here at Texas State, She loved it, but discovered in her last semester that she really didn’t want to teach, which is pretty much all one can do with a dance degree. So she worked for a year and then returned to school to earn another degree, this time in marketing. In her last semester in that program, she served an internship at a hot advertising firm in Austin and they loved her so much they begged her not to leave.

    That taught her she’s capable of building the future she wants, despite the detours and disappointments.

    My point is that you don’t learn from success. You learn from failure and adversity. So when Dad steps in to dig up score sheets from a landfill and raise a stink to make sure his daughter is given what he feels she has coming to her, the only lesson learned is that life can be hard unless and until Dad fixes everything.

    And that, friends, is no kind of lesson at all.

  27. Well,teaching kids that parents and coaches can cheat and no one will stand up for them is no lesson either. If she lost fair and square than this life lesson idea holds water. Otherwise, Mayhew did what any parent would and should do. Mathew may be a little arrogant, but I’ve never seen him do anything mean or dishonest. And I’ve seen nothing in anything reported to indicate otherwise. I’m still not sure where it is being claimed he used his position to benefit his daughter. I would have demanded the scores if I felt something was off. I would have gone looking for the scores if the coach claimed they were destroyed. I certainly would have taken my concerns to the superintendent if I had found the scores discarded and nit matching what I had been given. Eads is not an idiot, so the fact that he corrected the situation also indicates that Mathew was correct. I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.

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