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Problems Haunt Charter School Despite Name Change

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Posted: Apr 4, 2013 6:52 PM

Updated: Apr 5, 2013 12:09 AM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A charter school changed its teacher testing policy before an employee was arrested on charges of stealing and selling teacher tests, school officials said.

Ignite Public Schools does not offer teacher-certification testing at its campuses in the Rio Grande Valley. The school did offer the tests when it operated under the name IRRA Charter Schools.

Gilbert Trevino is accused of stealing the tests when the school operated as IRRA. State officials began investigating the case last fall.

The Texas Attorney General's Office checked on teacher tests stolen from the schools.

"We'll comply with the investigation if they need anything, but they have not contacted us," Ignite Spokeswoman Joanne Ureste said.

Investigators arrested Trevino in March. He was charged with stealing trade secrets - a third-degree felony. A criminal complaint alleges Trevino downloaded software into school computers to copy the teacher-certification tests.

"Ignite Public Schools has never provided ETS testing; it was for our previous Administration," Ureste said.

Ureste said the problems happened when the school was known as IRRA.

IRRA had a long history of problems. A CHANNEL 5 NEWS investigation last year found teachers changed attendance reports. The charter system had to return nearly $1 million in state funding.

The school changed names last summer. Ignite is on probation with the Texas Education Agency.

"We've been addressing the issues. We've been complying with them. We have a positive outlook," Ureste said.

Topics: joanne ureste, irra, ignite, charter, school, gilbert trevino

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