Parents, students protest removal of Austin High School principal

John Tanner was suspended with pay

POSTED: 05:12 PM MDT Mar 29, 2013    UPDATED: 05:55 PM MST Jan 15, 2014 

At least 100 students and parents gathered outside Austin High School Friday morning to protest the removal of principal John Tanner.

They brought signs and gave speeches at the emotional rally, telling the ABC-7 crew they don't believe Tanner cheated willingly.

Tanner and seven other administrators are facing termination. The El Paso Independent School district administration placed them on paid leave earlier this week.

It appears the eight may be suspected of being involved in the cheating scandal under former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia.

Interim Superintendent Vernon Butler said in a statement, "Commissioner Williams stated that EPISD must act against employees who participated in the cheating. He and many of our elected officials also have criticized the District for not moving quickly enough. I want to assure you that the District is making the necessary changes to move forward."

Parents protesting Tanner's removal Friday morning said the district's timing is terrible.

"This has been a difficult time, probably the worst time to do this," said a parent as he addressed the crowd. He was referring to the STAAR testing, which begins in just days.

Police officers were called out to the campus, but the protest didn't get out of hand.

Nick Cobos has been named the interim principal at Austin High School. He most recently served as interim principal at Bowie High School after Jesus Chavez was re-assigned.

District trustees are expected to meet Tuesday at 4 p.m. to make a decision on the administration's recommendation that the eight educators be dismissed. They are:

People who would like to speak during public comment are asked to sign up in person at EPISD headquarters at 3:30 p.m.  or they can call in their request at (915) 230-2576. People not on the list will not be allowed to speak or sign up after the meeting starts.