EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The state has begun notifying certain El Paso school district employees that it is investigating whether they were involved in a testing scandal designed to circumvent federal accountability requirements.
The Texas Education Agency has sent letters to an unknown number of current and former El Paso Independent School District staffers in which staffers are given a date on which they can make their case to the TEA lawyers who will decide whether staffers should face administrative hearings, the El Paso Times reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/15R3KIo ).
The TEA has not said which educators and how many could face sanctions, which would range from a reprimand to the revocation of someone's teaching certificate, agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said. The consequences could vary depending on the person and the extent of the misconduct, she said.
"This is their opportunity to come and talk with us and present their case," Culbertson said.
Individuals are receiving letters including a scheduled date and time during which they can present their side to TEA lawyers who will decide if the case should receive an administrative hearing.
An El Paso Times investigation revealed that some educators were holding students back, promoting them or coercing them into leaving school to improve the district's scores on standardized tests. That gave the appearance of improving academic performance, qualifying the district for more federal funds.
Former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia pleaded guilty to fraud and in 2012 was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison.
Juan Cabrera Jr., who was recently hired as El Paso ISD superintendent, said the district is aware of the letters but is not involved in the process.
"We cannot assume that the outcome will be negative," he said. "We will have to wait for the results of their investigation," Cabrera said.
The State Board of Educator Certification would make the final ruling on possible sanctions. Should TEA's investigation uncover criminal wrongdoing, such as tampering with government documents, the agency would also notify law enforcement agencies.
Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com