Weslaco board to discuss forensic audit, superintendent

WESLACO — The Weslaco Independent School District board of trustees will discuss preliminary findings of a long-awaited forensic audit launched half-a-year ago at a meeting Thursday, along with Superintendent Priscilla Canales’ “future plans with Weslaco ISD.”

Canales did not respond to requests for comment on those plans, although she announced earlier this year she planned to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Trustees at a previous meeting, particularly Marcos De Los Santos, called for findings of the audit to be presented in open session, with the audit available to the public. 

The board will discuss both items in executive session Thursday, with the possibility of more discussion or action on the audit in open session.

De Los Santos did not respond to phone calls about Thursday’s meeting, but Weslaco School Board President Armando Cuellar said audit findings are being discussed in executive session because those findings are not yet finalized.

“I don’t believe we’re ready for that yet,” he said. “What we’re looking at is a rough draft, and we just need to get a better understanding of what it’s all about, and then do what we feel is in order. But first things first, we need to look at it and get an understanding of what it is.

A lot of the audit remains incomplete,” Cuellar said.

“Once it’s ready, it’s something that will be open,” he said. “Like it was stated, we voted to make it open.”

Cuellar said he couldn’t discuss what was actually in the audit, citing personnel matters, although he did affirm his belief in it.

“I put my faith in it — that this thing will serve its purpose,” he said.

The Weslaco Independent School District Board of Trustees selected Weaver and Tidwell L.L.P. to conduct the audit in January, asking the firm to investigate financial statements, potential conflicts of interest and other aspects of the district’s administration.

The audit has stretched on months longer than expected. Its launch preceded rumblings of change at the district. Canales announced her plans to retire days after the board opted for the audit and escaped being suspended pending its results by a bare majority in May.

The district’s superintendent is not the only Weslaco ISD employee who’s settled on an exit. In May the district lost longtime Athletic Director Oscar Riojas, adding to staffing shortages that Canales said had left the district “overloaded.”