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TEA report recommends La Joya school board be replaced by board of managers

TEA report recommends La Joya school board be replaced by board of managers
1 year 2 weeks 5 days ago Tuesday, May 09 2023 May 9, 2023 May 09, 2023 6:22 PM May 09, 2023 in News - Local

Following years of allegations of school board members and employees with the La Joya Independent School District engaging in fraud and breaking conflict of interest laws, the Texas Education Agency recommended the school board be replaced by a board of managers, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report was finalized after the TEA opened an investigation into the district in March 2022, according to the TEA.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

The report referenced the guilty pleas of former school board trustees Oscar Salinas, Armin Garza, and former district employees Alex Guajardo and Rodrigo Lopez, who were all arrested on federal charges of bribery and extortion.

The report also referenced current school board president Alex Cantu, who they alleged failed to disclose his wife was a director of a nonprofit organization that the district entered into a partnership with to provide after-school meals to students.

Guajardo served as CEO of the organization, RGV Read and Feed.

“Both trustees and all three administrators defrauded LJISD of funds meant to improve the education of the district’s students,” the report stated. “The nature and seriousness of these findings requires the commissioner of education to take significant action to ensure the district course is correct and regain the public trust. The above recommendation will enable LJISD to function in the best interest of its students, while policies and procedures can be implemented to address the systemic issues raised in this investigation.”

La Joya ISD interim Superintendent Heriberto D. Gonzalez said in a statement the TEA’s report was “based on concerns related to former district employees and the governance practices of the previous board.”

Read the full statement below:

“La Joya ISD received notification that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) conducted a thorough evaluation of our district's governance practices and has recommended that our Board of Trustees be replaced with a state-appointed Board of Managers. In an effort to remain transparent, I want to provide you with the necessary information.

The TEA's recommendation is based on concerns related to former district employees and the governance practices of the previous board, which did not align with our district's vision of providing educational excellence to our community. We recognize the importance of effective governance in ensuring all success and well-being of our students and the entire school community. I want to emphasize that this decision was not influenced by our district's academic performance. Rest assured, La Joya ISD remains committed to delivering educational excellence to each and every one of our students and we will continue to make administrative decisions with that focus in mind.

I want to reassure you that our schools will continue to operate smoothly and without interruption. Our dedicated educators and staff remain resolute and unwavering in their commitment to providing our students with the quality education they deserve.

Our district will remain STUDENT FOCUSED, DATA DRIVEN, and RESULTS ORIENTED!

Respectfully,

Heriberto D. Gonzalez

Interim Superintendent of Schools

La Joya ISD”

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