Texas State Senator for District 26 José Menéndez organized a meeting to get clarification on the role of Edgewood ISD's state-appointed board in the district and its recent decision to terminate a board member.
More than a year ago, TEA officials replaced EISD's board members and the superintendent to improve the troubled district. Sen. Menéndez said that after he received numerous complaints from constituents, he decided to set up a meeting to get answers.
On Friday, Sen. Menéndez sent a letter to the TEA's commissioner of education Mike Morath to request a meeting. He wrote that the recent termination of former board member Amanda Gonzalez was a concern to him and the residents living in the Edgewood district.
Gonzalez was never given a reason for her removal.
Sen. Menéndez also listed his concerns about possible criminal activity at the district in the letter.
"I wanted to put TEA on notice that it's critically important for me as an elected official that the school board have an independent board of managers that represent the children and the parents of all of the Edgewood community," Sen. Menéndez said.
On Thursday afternoon, he met with TEA officials, state leaders, four of EISD's state-appointed board members and the superintendent. The meeting was held at the senator's new district office located inside the Wonderland of the America's shopping mall on Fredericksburg road.
Sen. Menéndez said that all of his concerns were addressed.
"There shouldn't have been a particular company hired by someone who worked for the district but that there was no criminal activity. We're going to see what the investigation presents," Menéndez said.
State-appointed board president for EISD, Roy Richard Soto Sr., said that the meeting was productive.
"We had an opportunity to listen to some concerns and I think TEA has had an opportunity to explain how the governance process works, what the role is with the school district," Soto Sr. explained.
However, TEA officials refused to comment on camera and left the senator's office through a back door. The senator shared what the TEA representatives said in the meeting about Gonzalez's termination:
"They felt that she was acting independently in investigations, that she was acting outside of what their expectations were," Sen. Menéndez recalled.
He added that the district has made great strides in improving the schools and helping students. He said that everyone at the meeting agreed on a positive note.
"We all came into agreement that we're going for the best interest of the children moving forward along with TEA and the Edgewod school board of managers. They know that we have their back to be independent watchdogs for the kids and the parents of the school district," Sen. Menéndez said. "We're going to continue to be vigilant. We're going to continue to trust, but we will continue to verify everything. That's the critical thing here."
KENS reached out to former board member Amanda Gonzalez, who sent us a statement in response to the story:
"I still have not received an official reason from the Texas Education Agency for my removal/replacement from the Board of Managers. During my tenure, it was my moral duty and obligation to be a voice for the community so that we could create the best school district possible for our children."
The elected officials who attended the meeting were Texas House District 124 representative Ina Minjarez and Texas House District 125 representative Justin Rodriguez. The chief of staff representing Texas House District 123 representative Diego Bernal and an aid from state senator Carlos Uresti's office also, came to the meeting.
Here’s the full letter that Sen. Menéndez sent to TEA Commissioner of Education Mike Morath:
(Can’t see the letter? Click here.)