In The Hot Seat: Local ISD Superintendent Under Investigation

Prosper ISD superintendent Holly Ferguson | Image by Prosper ISD
Prosper ISD superintendent Holly Ferguson | Image by Prosper ISD

Prosper ISD superintendent Holly Ferguson is under investigation by the Texas Education Agency two years after a sexual abuse scandal and coverup.

The scandal involved a 61-year-old bus driver who was alleged to have sexually abused two sisters, ages 5 and 7, more than 100 times. Video surveillance extracted from the bus led to the arrest of bus driver Frank Paniagua, who subsequently died following a suicide attempt while in jail. The parents of the girls filed a $5 million lawsuit against the district; Ferguson, who was superintendent at the time of the alleged incidents; Annamarie Hamrick, the former director of Prosper ISD Transportation Department; and Paniagua’s Estate.

According to Texas Scorecard, the TEA is not providing details about its investigation, but one document provided to the outlet connects the investigation to the 2022 sex abuse scandal. The document released to Texas Scorecard is a Facebook post from Prosper ISD Trustee Garrett Linker made in September 2022, in which Linker comments on the scandal.

An attorney for the TEA told Texas Scorecard that the matter is connected to “an open investigation of allegations that an educator engaged in inappropriate conduct,” noting that the allegations were the subject of “anticipated litigation.”

Texas Scorecard reported that the TEA received a “failure to report” complaint about Ferguson on March 1, 2024, after which it opened the investigation.

Ferguson reportedly failed to disclose Paniagua’s arrest to the families of other children who regularly rode the school bus he drove. She also apparently failed to report the driver to the State Board for Educator Certification, which is required by law. These offenses could result in criminal penalties and loss of one’s superintendent certificate, reported Texas Scorecard.

Despite the controversy surrounding the superintendent, Prosper ISD’s board gave a vote of confidence to Ferguson last year, and voted to extend her contract, as well as give her a $40,000 raise. This increased her salary from $310,000 to $350,000, reported Texas Scorecard, making her one of the highest paid superintendents in Texas. They also gave her a $40,000 bonus.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, a 38-year-old Dallas ISD high school teacher was arrested last year for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student.

Despite the ongoing investigation, Prosper ISD Board President Bill Beaver defended Ferguson highlighting her work and the board’s confidence in her leadership.

“Dr. Holly Ferguson has spent 26 years in service to the public school children of the State of Texas, 21 of those here in Prosper as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, and superintendent. The entire Board of Trustees has the utmost confidence that she executes her duties as superintendent with integrity, honor, and steadfast devotion to the students of Prosper ISD, and she has the support of the entire Board. The Texas Education Agency has not provided the district with any information about the nature of this investigation nor who has made the allegation against Dr. Ferguson. As we await a response from TEA, the Board remains fully confident that Dr. Ferguson has always met the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior. The Board of Trustees, Dr. Ferguson, and our outstanding educators continue our daily commitment to providing an excellent education for our students,” Beavers told DX.

NOTE: This article was updated at 10:35 a.m. on May 10, 2024, to include a comment received from Prosper ISD school board president Bill Beaver.

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