EL PASO, Texas - The Ysleta Independent School District board voted unanimously late Tuesday night to suspend Superintendent Xavier De La Torre for three days without pay stemming from his fight with another school superintendent at a Whataburger restaurant. The 7-0 decision to reprimand De La Torre for not promptly reporting the incident to the school board came after a four and a half hour executive session meeting held behind closed doors. (You can watch the board vote in the video player below.)
"We hope that our parents, our students, and employees in our El Paso family will join us as we turn our focus back to the students of YISD, which is the most important job we have," was the only comment made by board president Cruz Ochoa in addressing the room after the roll call vote.
There was no mention of any further repercussions for De La Torre. The board members left through a back door and the superintendent was escorted out by police; they all avoided questions from the media — apparently not wanting to publicly share the reason behind the decision, despite spending much of the night discussing it privately.
Police said the late night scuffle involving De La Torre and Socorro Independent School District Superintendent Jose Espinoza took place last month at a Whataburger location in San Antonio, where the two men were attending an educational leadership conference at taxpayer expense.
Both superintendents have offered conflicting stories about what transpired.
Last week at a meeting of the Socorro district's board, Espinoza said the incident “was not a fight, this was an assault."
But De La Torre, in a statement released last week, maintained he was not the aggressor — despite a police report that says otherwise. He did, however, apologize for his "conduct" that night.
Espinoza declined to press charges at the time, but San Antonio police said the incident remains an open case.
There's been plenty of drama playing out since word of the fight became public — including the disclosure that some Socorro board members were actually present at Whataburger during the altercation, as well as leaked recordings of Ysleta's De La Torre and a Socorro board member later discussing what happened that night.
The president of the Ysleta Teachers Association, Arlinda Valencia, told ABC-7 last week that she believed both superintendents should face some disciplinary action due to the nature of the incident and the public attention it's garnered.
Following Tuesday night's decision, Valencia said she thought the suspension would have impact: ”Anyone that is suspended without pay is definitely getting their consequences. It doesn't happen in education, period. So I do have to say that this board did their due diligence.”
But some parents disagreed and didn't believe the board's action went far enough.
"It's an absolute insult. Its a slap on the face of the community, the city of El Paso," said Daniel De La Cruz, the father of a YISD student, who attended the board meeting."It's the absolutely wrong message to send to our students, our teachers and our staff. Once again, 3 days no pay is pocket change for this man."