EL PASO, Texas - Most of the members of the El Paso Independent School District Board of Managers have said they are willing to turn in personal financial information forms after critics of a new law have said the board of managers is not held to an equal standard.
House Bill 343, authored mainly by State Rep. Marisa Marquez, with the help of the rest of the El Paso delegation, will require school board trustees to file personal financial information forms to the County of El Paso starting in January. The legislature passed the law in June.
Ysleta, Socorro and Canutillo school boards have passed resolutions opposing the law. Critics have said the law is unfair because it doesn't require the EPISD board of managers to submit the financial forms and because the law only applies to El Paso school boards and not the rest of the state.
ABC-7 contacted each member of the EPISD board of managers and asked if they'd be willing to submit a personal financial form voluntarily, though the law does not require them to do so.
Dee Margo, the President of the Board of Managers said he had submitted the form to the Texas Ethics Commission last year as a State Representative and said nothing had changed since then. He said he'd be willing to submit an updated version if asked to do so by the Community. Board Vice President Ed Archuleta said he submitted the form every year he led the El Paso Water Utility and said it's "a good practice." Archuleta said he has already asked the district for the form and will submit his personal financial information when he receives it. Board Secretary, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria said she'd consider submitting the information. The Texas Education Agency representative on the Board, Dr. Judy Castleberry said she'd be willing to turn in the form. Dr. Blanca Enriquez did not respond to a voicemail and an email asking if she'd turn in the financial disclosure form.
"My personal position is that the form is very broad and it is not overly onerous or an invasion of privacy. It's a good practice," said Margo.
The personal financial information form asks for additional income or assets, including the percentage of shares invested in a company, mutual funds, stocks, real estate properties and leases, among other things. The form does not ask for specific dollar amounts or income values. Those required to fill it out have to indicate if the source of income or assets are more or less than $25,000.
All state elected and appointed officials are required to turn in the forms to the Texas Ethics Commission. Locally, County Commissioners and City Representatives also turn in the form. City appointees to boards, such as the Public Service Board and the City Plan Commission, also have to submit the forms. For County boards, such as the County Hospital District Board of Managers, members have to submit a shorter version of the financial disclosure form which asks for employment, joint ventures and substantial financial interests. County department heads also have to submit that form.
Those who oppose the law have also said school board trustees could face stiffer penalties if they do not turn in the form. According to the text of the law, legislators and the Texas Ethics Commission, everyone required to submit the form could face a Class B Misdemeanor if they don't turn them in on time.
There is one difference for school board trustees. They'll have to submit the forms to El Paso County Commissioners instead of the Texas Ethics Commission. State lawmakers said they tried to pass the law statewide but faced resistance. "This law came from a crisis of corruption in El Paso," said Marquez in an interview this week.