El Paso — Senator (D) Jose Rodriguez, who has been heavily involved with EPISD input, and submitted 5 bills regarding EPISD for the upcoming legislative session, agreed with the commissioner's decision to strip the board of powers, but had other concerns as well. (Statement Below)
Meanwhile, educators and employees at El Paso ISD schools are ready to move forward.
EPISD Teacher's Association Statement: "“When it comes to our schools, the employees of EPISD have always put our students first. The El Paso Teachers Association (EPTA) is prepared to play an important role in the EPISD rebuilding process to make sure our students and their classrooms are the district’s top priority. EPTA is prepared to work with concerned citizens and local elected officials to make sure the appointed managers are provided the information they need to do what’s best for the students and parents who rely on EPISD to educate our kids,” said Norma de la Rosa, president of the El Paso Teachers Association."
Rodriguez Statement: "The events at EPISD have caused the community to lose trust and confidence in their district leaders. District administrators lost their way and failed their responsibility to the students, the teachers, and the community at large. Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees failed as well. The Trustees didn’t hold the administrators accountable, and ultimately, they failed to hold themselves accountable. Although I believe the majority of the Trustees to be well-intentioned, the Trustees never fully acknowledged their responsibility for the situation, and as a result, they made it difficult for the community to trust their actions.
"I respect Commissioner Williams' decision today. While I commend him for taking strong action, the TEA must also review its own role in this tragedy. I hope that the Commissioner will proceed with a third-party audit of the agency's own actions and its failure to discover the widespread corruption at EPISD.
"I hope these moves put the district on a stronger footing to recover and progress. We must remember that good things happen every day at EPISD. In fact, a little over a month ago, I was at Douglass Elementary as part of a group honoring their achievement as a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School.
"While it was Commissioner Williams' decision to appoint a Board of Managers, the ultimate responsibility to fix the school district is ours."
The bills Rodriguez submitted are:
SB 119, which would create a program that would require EPISD to offer remedial classes and alternative graduation for students cheated of their education by the actions of district administrators.
·SB 121 strengthens whistleblower protections to encourage school district employees to report illegal activity without fear of retaliation.
·SB 122 adds school districts' boards of trustees to the list of county officials who can be removed from office for incompetence or misconduct.
·SB 123 strengthens TEA's oversight of school districts by providing the commissioner of education with the authority to issue subpoenas and the ability to more easily investigate suspicious data reporting by districts.
·SB 124 makes the fraudulent manipulation of data reported to the TEA a third degree felony.