SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Education Agency is stepping in to investigate recent actions by the South San Independent School District board of trustees.
The TEA notified board President Connie Prado and Superintendent Alexandro Flores that it was launching a special accreditation investigation after the agency received several complaints about the district’s recent plans to reopen three schools that had previously been shut down.
The complaint alleges the board of trustees acted outside of its authority by directing the staff in its day-to-day operations and impeding the superintendent’s duties. It also alleges the board is attempting to reopen school campuses without first receiving recommendations from the superintendent.
Several meetings have been held regarding the reopening of Athens Elementary School, Kazen Middle School and West Campus High School. Initially, the superintendent and staff members advised the board that reopening the schools would not be in the best interest of the district.
Flores declined to comment on the notice sent by the TEA.
Prado issued the following statement, saying she believes the board has acted legally in the process:
“I welcome the pending TEA visit. The Board of Trustees and the school district will cooperate fully with the investigation. The Board has proceeded systematically and methodically in its efforts to fulfill its electoral mandate to re-open Athens Elementary, Kazen Middle School and West Campus High School. The Board has carefully considered the fiscal and operational planning requirements of the re-opening of our schools. The Board has sought and carefully considered the input of its Staff and Superintendent in its deliberative processes. The Board has also sought and considered the input of outside consultants, such as Moak, Casey & Associates and its District architects in advising our deliberations. We have held multiple public meetings and have received significant public comment concerning our efforts. We have carefully followed the advice of Legal Counsel to ensure that the Superintendents prerogatives have been upheld. There has been fierce public debate. At this time a majority of the Board of Trustees truly believes that we must restore the trust and confidence in our community by reopening our schools. Elections have consequences. We look forward to accomplishing this goal with the help of our Superintendent.”
Republican state Sen. Pete Flores and Democratic state Sen. Jose Menendez sent a joint letter to the TEA asking it to investigate several complaints their offices had received regarding the district’s process.
Menendez said his concern is making sure the district has the best interest of the children and taxpayers in mind. He worries major financial troubles could come from the $6 million decision.
“I’m hoping this investigation -- what it does it say? ‘Hey, could you be potentially risking accreditation?’ I don't know,” he said. “All I want is for them to come in and look into making sure things are being done the right way.”
In 2014, the TEA launched a similar investigation into the district. It resulted in a conservator being placed over the district. That conservator remained until 2018.
The investigation will review agendas and electronic communication between trustees and interview top leaders. It is unclear how long it will take or if the board will halt its efforts to reopen the schools until the investigation is complete.