Education

YISD board member claims SISD board members were drinking before Whataburger scuffle

De La Torre disciplined

EL PASO, Texas - Ysleta Independent School District's superintendent is facing suspension for an altercation with the superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District.

That altercation happened in San Antonio and the police report shows YISD Superintendent Xavier De La Torre appeared to be intoxicated. 

But YISD board member Kathryn Lucero, who voted to suspend De La Torre for three days, claims it was SISD board members who were drinking on taxpayer dollars.

She says fellow board members are rallying behind Superintendent De La Torre. 

They do not believe he was the aggressor, and they do not believe accounts De La Torre head-butted SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza.

Board members from both school districts were in San Antonio as part of a Texas Association of School Boards training program.

The incident happened June 13th at a San Antonio Whataburger

Lucero told ABC-7 in a telephone interview that she and other board members do not believe De La Torre started the altercation.

In fact, she claims four SISD board members present during the altercation had been drinking all day.

"They were drinking on school district time. And this particular... How do you know, how do you know they were drinking? Ask them directly. And I know they were drinking because one of the trustees, Paul Garcia, he let me know, so I'm gonna believe his first-hand account. All four of them were drinking, all of the trustees were drinking. Dr. Espinoza was not drinking." said Lucero.

No charges were filed in the scuffle. 

The school board moved to suspend De La Torre for three, non-consecutive days without pay — not because of the altercation, but because he did not inform board members in a timely fashion about the incident.

"I do not believe that Dr. De La Torre was the person that led the physical altercation," said Richard Couder, YISD's board vice president over the phone.

Couder says the decision to suspend De La Torre was unanimous.

ABC-7 asked Couder if a three-day suspension was a slap on the wrist for representing the school district in a negative light during the education function in San Antonio.

"The suspension we gave Dr. De La Torre was without pay. That is not the typical suspension that employees receive. It is because he is a leader of our district and is held to a higher standard," responded Couder.

De La Torre's was not available for comment Wednesday. 

Both Lucero and Couder say the suspension has not started and will begin at the discretion of school board president Cruz Ochoa.

"He is going to work on determining what are the best days, or the correct days to begin that suspension so that it does not in any way negatively impact our schools or our students," said Couder.

ABC-7 also reached out to SISD Superintendent Espinoza to get his reaction to both De La Torre's suspension, as well as Lucero's allegations.

An SISD spokesperon says the school chief is not responding, and adds that the school district wants to focus on the school year, as well as put the entire incident behind them.


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