Progreso ISD Won’t Give Up Fight Against TEA

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PROGRESO – A court battle between the Progreso Independent School District and the Texas Education Agency isn’t over just yet.

Progreso ISD attorney, Kevin O’ Hanlon, said they plan to challenge a recent Texas Court of Appeals ruling. This will bring the school districts fight against the TEA into its second year.

The lawsuit stemmed from a two-year investigation by the TEA into Progreso ISD after three district officials were charged with bribery and a kickback scheme. Jose Guadalupe Vela, Michael Vela and Omar Vela ended up pleading guilty and were convicted.

The TEA sent in two conservators to manage the district and launch a nearly two-year special accreditation investigation. The findings came out in 2015, and the TEA’s former commissioner lowered the district's accreditation and replaced the school board with a board of managers.

The current school board the TEA wanted to replace had a good argument against the state agency.

“We’re not an original board, we are a brand new board, and TEA let us have elections,” board member Juan Ramos, Jr. told CHANNEL 5 NEWS in 2016. “They should have put a stop to it in back in 2013, not two years later after we had two elections and brought in five new board members.”

The district filed a lawsuit in Jan. 2016 to stop the board of managers from taking over. The lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court.

The judge granted an injunction and ruled in favor of Progreso ISD, allowing elected board members to continue leading the district.

The TEA then appealed that decision and the case ended up in the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District, in Austin.

In December, the judges ruled in favor of the TEA.

“Education Code Section 39.151 specifies that the commissioner’s decisions on accountability ratings are final and may not be appealed,” the opinion read. “Likewise, TEA rules stipulate that the commissioner’s final orders following either information or formal review are final and unappealable.”

O’ Hanlon said they plan to file an appeal by the end of this week.

The case could end up in the Texas Supreme Court.

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