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Granbury superintendent used non-public aircraft for private flights

Jimmy Dawson says a number of flights had been to assist him maintain his pilot’s license. However an ethics professional says a household journey he took on the aircraft violates state coverage.

GRANBURY, Texas — Watch the total story tonight at on WFAA Information at 10 pm

An hour southwest of Fort Price, Granbury ISD is comparatively small, serving 7,500 college students.

It is also the one public college district in Texas WFAA can discover that owns its personal non-public aircraft.

The district says its airplane was bought for college kids to find out about aviation. However flight data, gas receipts and Fb photographs reveal how taxpayer {dollars} paid for a household journey for at the least one district chief.

Jimmy Dawson has been the assistant superintendent at Granbury for the final 12 months, and he helped manage the district’s buy of the aircraft—a Cessna Skyhawk—final spring. District data present it was bought for $42,000.

The purpose behind the acquisition, the district says, was to get college students enthusiastic about aviation and to show them to fly by means of an aviation program the Texas Schooling Company (TEA) affords. Whereas a number of North Texas districts participate in that TEA program, no different district within the area has bought a aircraft to take part in it. Moreover, WFAA has found that Dawson used the aircraft for a household journey, and that he has flown the aircraft with out college students or different district personnel at the least 3 times.

WFAA tried to schedule an interview with Dawson to search out out why he is used the aircraft for these journeys, however Dawson initially mentioned he was too busy to remark — and he finally stopped responding to our requests. WFAA then went to a Granbury ISD college board assembly to talk to Dawson in particular person.

On the college board assembly, Dawson denied utilizing the aircraft for private journeys. Data from the flight-tracking firm Flight Conscious, nevertheless, recommend a unique story.

In June, the district’s aircraft, which has the registration quantity N2464Y, flew 250 miles on a roundtrip to Abilene. Days later, Dawson’s daughter, who attends Abilene Christian College, posted on Fb thanking Dawson and her mom, additionally a Granbury ISD administrator, for flying out for a lunch go to on her birthday. The district’s aircraft is clearly seen within the photograph Dawson’s daughter posted together with that standing replace, and Dawson can be seen within the cockpit of the aircraft in that photograph.

After WFAA spoke with Dawson, the photograph with the aircraft was deleted from Fb. WFAA was ready to put it aside first.

On the college board assembly, Dawson didn’t deny flying to Abilene together with his spouse to see his daughter. As a substitute, he mentioned it was a follow flight.

“What I do is I’ve to get required time, and so the FAA requires required time,” Dawson mentioned.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to make three flights of any time or distance size inside 90 days to take care of a pilots’ license as lively or “present.” However that does not clarify why Dawson is utilizing the district’s aircraft to remain present.

Dawson additionally would not educate college students to fly, based on the district. Actually, based on the FAA, he would not have the right certification to show.

The district says Dawson takes college students on demonstration flights and that “it is very important our district that anybody who flies in our airplane does so repeatedly.”

Since January 1, although, the district says he is flown with college students simply 3 times.

Throughout these 11 months, he additionally flew by himself 3 times. The district didn’t reply repeated questions concerning the locations and functions of these flights.

“I get to fly the aircraft as a result of I am a personal pilot,” Dawson mentioned when requested concerning the flights.

The flights concern Dr. Watt L. Black Jr., an training management and ethics professor at Southern Methodist College.

“We’re right here to be clear to the general public, to serve these college students,” Black mentioned.

He compares Dawson’s flight to Abilene to a bus driver utilizing a district college bus for a household journey.

“I do not recall having seen circumstances ever the place district workers would take a bus, a van or a Suburban and cargo their household up and take them on a household trip,” Black mentioned. “It would not be acceptable. That is not why taxpayers fund these purchases.”

Dawson mentioned Granbury ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn and the district’s college board had been conscious of the flights he has taken with the district aircraft. Dawson additional denied that the journeys had been private, saying they had been journeys meant to maintain him present on his license. However any flight of any distance, private or skilled, might depend as a visit to remain present.

These flights weren’t with out price, both.

Within the month of June, when Dawson took the journey to Abilene together with his spouse, district data present the Granbury ISD spent practically $2,000 on for the aircraft. Dawson’s household journey was one of many longest taken that month.

“I pay for the gas, and I’ve paid for gas earlier than,” Dawson mentioned when WFAA requested if he paid for gas for the Abilene journey.

When WFAA requested why there was no report of Dawson paying for gas, Dawson mentioned it was as a result of he paid for it on his private bank card.

The district couldn’t affirm whether or not Dawson paid for gas for the Abilene journey. As a substitute, a spokesperson mentioned Dawson “acknowledged the optics of selecting Abilene as a location for retaining his certification present and determined to make a donation.”

A $200 donation to the district was made two days after WFAA spoke to Dawson on the college board assembly, and three months after the flight to Abilene.

Due to the shortage of response from Granbury ISD, it is nonetheless unclear when the opposite three flights with out college students had been taken, how a lot the gas price was for these flights and whether or not Dawson ever reimbursed the district for any funds used.

However the district’s personal personnel coverage, which is modeled after the TEA coverage, is obvious: “Educators shall not deliberately, knowingly, or recklessly use property or tools for private achieve or benefit.”

Stated Black: “District property is meant for a selected public use, proper? It is supposed to learn the scholars.”

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