EPISD Board votes to appeal TEA decision

Board of Trustees will also 'seek available remedies' to respond to loss of power

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees announced that it will appeal the Texas Education Agency commissioner's move to strip the board of power and appoint a board of managers to oversee the district to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Board trustees voted on the appeal after midnight Wednesday. Before the vote, the trustees spoke about what went into their decision. Many trustees expressed their frustration with TEA Commissioner Michael Williams for moving forward and appointing a new board, despite state audits finding no evidence that wrongdoing is ongoing, and that the board is doing all the TEA has asked.

The EPISD is trying to regain its footing after the test cheating scandal that ultimately sent former superintendent Dr. Lorenzo Garcia to prison. Garcia was found guilty of steering government contracts to his mistress. A further investigation found that Garcia and district officials worked to shift students into or out of the 10th grade to manipulate test scores for federal accountability.

Board president Isela Castañon-Williams said in a statement after the meeting that the TEA is undermining the rights of the voters by installing a board of managers, which would take effect weeks before the May board elections.

"The voters are best suited to decide who should take charge in the district, not the political appointee who is unaccountable to the voters," said Castañon-Williams.

She continued, saying that the board will seek its available remedies within the state. Castañon-Williams did not elaborate on what remedies the board can seek, nor did she take questions after delivering her statement.

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