TEA Suspends Progreso ISD School Board

Posted: Updated: Dec 31, 2015 09:42 AM

PROGRESO – The Texas Education Agency has decided to suspend the Progreso ISD school board. 

Michael Berry, the TEA deputy commissioner of education policy and programs, notified the district about his decision to appoint a board of managers. In a letter to school officials, Berry also stated the district’s accreditation status has been lowered to accredited-warned.

Berry wrote the board of managers would include "members of the Progreso community who are committed to service on behalf of the students of the district and the community."

The TEA Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, sent a follow-up notice naming the people who will serve as the district’s board of managers. They are:

  • Art Beckwith
  • Josefa Martinez
  • Martha Feldtman Noell
  • Olga Oviedo
  • Linda Romeros

The board of managers will be responsible for overseeing the management of Progreso ISD. A management team has already been in place for the last two years. That team will continue working until the board of managers is installed.

The Texas Education Code also requires the commissioner of education appoint a superintendent. Williams appointed Dr. Ismael Cantu to serve as the interim superintendent. Cantu formerly serviced as interim superintendent for the district in the 2014-2015 school year. Williams wrote, "Dr. Cantu's familiarity with the community and the issues facing the Progreso ISD will be an asset as the district works toward resolving the identified issues."

The decision came after the TEA launched a special accreditation investigation. They found the district suffered a severe loss of credibility because of multiple incidents of fraud in the district’s finances.

The investigation revealed $229,000 dollars of taxpayers’ money were spent at a local restaurant, owned by former board members.

In September, the commissioner announced his plans to appoint a board of managers and lower the district's accreditation status. At that time, the district had the opportunity request a formal review. The district requested the review, and it was conducted in November. 

Progreso ISD officials also requested an informal review on the TEA's findings that the district wasn't responsive or compliant with prior interventions and sanctions imposed. The informal review was also done in November.

Berry conducted both reviews. He decided to move forward with the appointment of a board of managers and the change in accreditation status. However, he declined to make a finding that the district wasn't responsive or complaint with prior sanctions.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS is working to get more details. Check back on KRGV.com for more updates.