Texas Education Agency ripped over EPISD audits

EL PASO, Texas - A new report released by the Texas State Auditor's Office states that the auditing process of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is flawed.

In reviewing the TEA's audit of the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD), the state auditor used words like "deficient," "weak" and "neglect." The 50-page report released Friday overviews how allegations against the EPISD were made, but that claims couldn't be substantiated.

Former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh had long accused EPISD of violations. After the initial report came out he wrote the U.S. Department of Education requesting the issue be looked into further. In his letter, Shapleigh stated that no one was interviewed, and that key allegations were never investigated. Two independent investigations would later confirm cheating took place within the school district.

The report by the Texas state auditor read, "The Agency failed to perform a thorough and effective investigation of serious cheating allegations at EPISD. As a result, the Agency did not identify the cheating schemes in place at EPISD."

TEA Commissioner Michael Williams responded via a news release early Friday morning, calling the recommendations that came from the report a "road map to help strengthen our agency's work."

Williams also said, "Resolution of all EPISD issues has been a priority from my first day as commissioner."

Williams wasn't in office until after the issues within the EPISD's walls unfolded. Still, he said that difficult decisions have been, and will continue to be made to restore trust to EPISD.

According to the news release, the recommendations from the State Auditor's Office are already being implemented.

Former EPISD Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia is currently serving a three-year prison sentence. Last year he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from EPISD violations. Garcia admitted to illegally steering a federal contract and moving EPISD students around to avoid federal standards tied to the No Child Left Behind Act.

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