Lorenzo Garcia, the embattled superintendent of the largest school district in the El Paso area, officially stepped down from his post Tuesday night.
The El Paso Independent School District accepted Garcia's letter of resignation during its board meeting. Garcia's resignation comes three months after the superintendent was arrested and indicted on federal fraud charges.
The letter reads, in part, "My resignation should not be perceived as an admission of guilt."
The superintendent, who was placed on unpaid administrative leave shortly before the start of the school year in August, is charged with two counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and one count of aiding theft from a program that receives federal funds. Federal authorities accused Garcia of helping a friend receive an overpriced contract in July 2006.
Garcia was placed on administrative unpaid leave soon after his indictment, but now he's gone for good.
"He gave two reasons for his resignation," said EPISD School Board president Isela Castanon-Williams. "One was that he wanted to be able to concentrate fully on his defense, and secondly, he said he thought his resignation would help the district move forward."
Castanon-Williams added Garcia's resignation is effective Nov. 30.
"I think the board agreed with him that this is the most prudent course of action. I was out at a school this morning, and there was a sense that this was a needed change. There was a sense of relief," said Castanon-Williams.
The board president added EPISD sees this is an opportunity to make important shifts in the direction of the school district.
EPISD chief of staff Terri Jordan will stay on as interim superintendent with no plans to search for candidates to permanently fill the position just yet.
"Looking for a (new) superintendent can cost up to $100,000," said Castanon-Williams.
So how much money will Garcia receive after his resignation? "He's walking away only with what he is (entitled to) in his contract. There is no parachute; there is no severance pay," said Castanon-Williams.
Castanon-Williams that amounts to a $12,500 bonus Garcia had already earned, teacher retirement benefits and $177,414 worth of leave compensation, which is the dollar amount corresponding to the 150 days of leave Garcia is entitled to under his contract. ABC-7 is working to confirm more details related to those 150 days of leave.