EL PASO, Texas -
EPISD is giving Weaver, the Austin-based firm investigating the cheating scheme, $140,000 to expand their audit beyond Bowie High and $68,000 for travel expenses. This is on top of their initial agreement of nearly $600,000 for 16 staff members to work over a 3-month period.
"That's a huge sum of money," said David Marcus. "So if you're going to ask me if I'm pissed off about this...yes."
Marcus is an EPISD taxpayer and local forensic auditor who worked with the district for ten years, right up until the point former Superintendent Dr. Lorenzo Garcia came on board.
"Yeah, he made it clear that they didn't really need that when he was superintendent," Marcus said.
But because of Garcia, they need it now, and board members say it'll be worth every taxpayer penny.
"Everybody is talking about the money but this is the responsible thing to do, the right thing to do, so we can finish what we started," Board member Alfredo Borrego said.
Apart of that process is terminating Assistant Superintendent of High Schools James Anderson for allegedly knowing about cheating at Bowie High and not doing enough to disclose what was going on and handing the District Attorney the names of former employees who, on paper, look like they were involved. But Marcus tells me any local firm could deliver these results, yet only Weaver was able to bid for the contract.
"I think the same result could have been had for half or even less than that," Marcus said. "It's sad because the result of that is now you're spending close to a million dollars of our money."
And asking for additional fees is bad business on the part of Weaver who should have known the scope of their investigation before starting.
EPISD is also paying another company, PROACT, $30,000 to find a permanent superintendent.
Its not clear whether the cost will go up, now that trustees decided to extend the hire date from March 12th to July 23rd.
By that time the board of managers could be in place and new board members elected.