District Denies Conflict of Interest in Hyer Redesign

Jim Hitzelberger.

Highland Park ISD officials are refuting a resident’s claim that school board president Jim Hitzelberger’s mother stands to gain from the redesign of Hyer Elementary.

Nathan Wood sent an email to the district stating he, as well as several residents in the Hyer school zone, believe that Hitzelberger faces a conflict of interest that should exclude the school board president from participating in decisions about the design of Hyer.

Wood claims that the additional green space created by turning Hyer into a three-story building would increase the distance between the school and Hitzelberger’s mother’s home by 30 feet, potentially adding property value.

“My opinion is this is a clear-cut clash of personal and public affairs,” Wood wrote. “[Hitzelberger] potentially has a lot to gain by how the new Hyer Elementary is constructed and built.”

The district, and Hitzelberger, disagree.

For Hitzelberger to be in direct conflict of interest, according to officials, any possible construction of Hyer would have to positively impact his mother only – not the other families that also surround the elementary school.

Hitzelberger’s mother is not the only home on Caruth Drive standing to gain distance from the school building, officials said, and therefore no conflict of interest pertaining to Hitzelberger and his mother is present.

There would also be a possibility for a conflict of interest if the district planned on buying Hitzelberger’s mother’s property for district use, but no such plans exist.

“From where I stand, there’s no problem, but anytime there’s a direct accusation against me or one of the board members, we have to send it to our attorney,” he said. “I believe this is just a case of someone who wants a two-story [Hyer reconstruction] lashing out. But, we’ll let the attorney handle it.”

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