Despite facing the impact of budget cuts by the Texas Legislature and publicly announcing that “no one in the district, not even the superintendent” would receive a raise this year, Beaumont Independent School District spokesperson Jessie Haynes announced on Friday April 8 that she hired an assistant for the communications department.
The new employee, Craig Eichhorn, who most recently was employed by the Galena Park Independent School District, will interact with the media and help with what Haynes has described an exorbitant amount of work in her department.
Haynes claimed that Eichhorn is filling a position that has been vacant for three-years and refused to publicly disclose Eichhorn’s salary despite promises of opened and transparency in a press release announcing the new hire.
"I am elated that Craig is joining our team,” Haynes said. “Keeping the public informed and assuring transparency in all we do are critical. He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and capabilities that will help the BISD Communications Department and the Office of the Superintendent in this age of expanded and new means of communications.”
Even with the promises of transparency, Haynes, whose annual salary is $101,400 not including any bonuses, benefits or her expense account, refused a request by The Examiner to provide Eichhorn’s compensation, which is public under Texas Law. Haynes said she wanted Eichhorn to have a day of privacy and instructed those interested in Eichhorn’s salary to submit a public information request, which The Examiner did before the press conference ended. The Examiner also requested Eichhorn’s records from his previous employers, as well as, all emails between him and Haynes for the past several months.
But then the focus of the press conference shifted from hiring a new employee and the amount of work he is facing to how Haynes claims the media is attacking BISD and that Eichhorn won’t have as hard of a time as she does because he is a white male.
“I did tell him that the fact that you are a white male, you might not have as much of a hard time as I have being black female,” Haynes said, as she pointed to her wrist as if she were indicating to the audience the color of her skin.
Haynes also said that only blacks in the district were “attacked” by the media.
“Everything you see about in the media about BISD if you take it and tell it like it is, anybody who is black has been attacked,” Haynes said.
A review of Eichhorn's background showed that he has been with Galena-Park ISD as the director of communications since 2006. Prior to that he was the director of communications for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. He is a 1987 graduate of Texas A&M University and was a newspaper reporter in Atlanta and Houston. Eichhorn is a music fan, Tweets under the name of WyldeDawg and frequents Blue Water Seafood and Candelari's Pizzeria in Houston. He currently lives in Tomball.
When asked about this job being a step down on the career ladder, Eichhorn admitted that it appeared that way based on the title but that he is looking forward to working with BISD.
"What a great place to work," he said. "Look at what this leadership team is doing."