"This is an extremely critical time for the district, its students, as well as the community," Williams said. "I am appointing a local board of managers because I believe El Pasoans are in the best position to initiate and sutain long-term, positive change for their school district."
He went out of his way to avoid criticism of trustees while saying he felt the district needed to regain the confidence of the community.
"In my visits to El Paso, I have met and visited with many members of the community who want to make their school district a source of pride again," Williams said. "With the appointment of a local board of managers, I am confident that the work to restore full confidence in the El Paso ISD can be accomplished."
According to Williams, El Paso has been a hot topic since he was appointed to his position back in September.
"I was appointed to the commissioner of Education back in September the first, and since that day there's probably not been an issue that has come to my attention on more occasions than the situation in El Paso ISD," Williams said in December.
If and when the DOJ approves the plan, the board of managers would assume the duties currently performed by the elected trustees. The board can then remain in place for up to two years, but a school board election must occur within that time period.
Former EPISD superintendent Lorenzo Garcia in October was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison for his role in steering a no-bid contract worth more than $400,000 to one of his mistresses, and for overseeing a scheme to systematically remove or reclassify hundreds of academically suspect eleventh graders who would otherwise take state accountability exams.
Trustees have been criticized for allegedly failing to adequately supervise Garcia, and for allegedly failing to follow through with a timely and thorough investigation afterward.
Castanon-Williams said in December that the board has been actively trying to change the culture at EPISD and has done everything asked of them by the Texas Education Agency. She points to the fact that the district restructured their internal auditor department, hired a test monitoring firm and an external auditor as examples of the changes the board has taken on."No one can accuse us of not having complied with any of the recommendations," she said.
Jimmy Vasquez, the leader of a board-appointed task force formed to make suggestions that could strengthen the district against corruption, said the board's actions were not enough.
"The board while they've started some processes, I think has been somewhat reluctant to really go full steam ahead and do what they had to do and dismiss people that had to be dismissed. There's still some vestiges of the old administration there and if some of the culprits are still there, how do you change things?" Vasquez said in December.
Appointed Board of Managers
Dr. Blanca Enriquez
Enriquez currently serves as executive director of the Region 19 Education Service Center Head Start Program. While at ESC Region 19, she has also worked as director of the Special Populations Divisions and Bilingual Program. Enriquez's more than 40 years of experience in education also includes stints as an elementary school teacher, teacher leader and teacher's aide in the EPISD. In addition, she is a graduate of Bowie High School in El Paso. Enriquez has been active in various community organizations including the education committee of the Economic Development Planning Division of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, Paso Del Norte Committee, and the United Way of El Paso.
Edmund G. "Ed" Archuleta
Edmund G. "Ed" Archuleta has been manager (president and CEO) of the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board since January 1989. He recently announced his retirement from that position. A registered professional engineer in Texas, New Mexico, and Iowa, Archuleta is a well established community leader who is currently serving or has assisted several civic organizations, including the United Way, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, the Rotary Club, and the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria is the chief financial officer for the City of El Paso. She has served in this capacity for more than seven years and has worked extensively in the governmental sector throughout her career. In addition to her professional achievements, she is engaged in the community and volunteers her time for various causes such as the El Paso Chapter of the YWCA and the Center Against Family Violence. She and her husband have three children who attend school in the EPISD.
The Honorable Dee Margo
A resident of El Paso for over three decades, Rep. Dee Margo has served in the Texas House of Representatives representing District 78. For over 30 years, Dee has worked at the John D. Williams Company, a firm with El Paso roots dating back to 1898, working his way up through the ranks from vice president in 1977 to president, chairman and CEO.
Dr. Judy Castleberry
Appointed as conservator in the El Paso ISD on Dec. 6 by Commissioner Williams, Dr. Judy Castleberry had served as a TEA monitor in the district since August 2012. A former executive director of the Region 20 Education Service Center (ESC), Castleberry has served in various instructional leadership roles for the Fort Sam Houston ISD and Region 20 ESC.
Williams named the fifth member of the board after receiving recommendations from the State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, who consulted with the El Paso legislative delegation to come up with a list of names. The Commissioner noted the critical role the El Paso community has played in this process."Through their legislative delegation, through various community leaders and through direct contact with me and the Texas Education Agency, the people of El Paso have had a strong voice in the selection process for this board of managers," said Commissioner Williams. "In speaking with each member of the board of managers, I don't think anyone can question their commitment in tackling the job that's ahead of them."