McAllen trustees take no action on board president complaint

Tony Forina

McAllen school board trustees took no action this week on a complaint against Board President Tony Forina after an investigation conducted by their legal counsel made no findings against him, a decision he says indicates his name has been cleared.

While details such as the allegations and the identities of the complainant and the accused remain unclear, Forina has maintained that he did nothing wrong since news of the complaint became public last month.

Trustees in attendance at the Monday, Jan. 9 meeting voted unanimously to take no action on it, which Forina described after the meeting as a vote of confidence.

“It just shows that there was nothing I had done that was wrong or should have in any way made anyone think that I had done anything wrong. They verified it and they stood next to me,” he said.

The board president said he asked not to be told what the complaint was about. But he has described the central party in that complaint as a friend who’s a supervisor at the district.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told The Monitor the complaint originated in the district’s marketing and communications office, whose director, Jake Berry, is a longtime friend of Forina’s.

Berry declined to comment last month, citing direction from legal counsel. He said he didn’t have any additional comment Friday.

The district also declined to comment on the complaint or Berry’s employment status last month, saying it can’t comment on personnel matters or “potentially pending investigations.”

The district again this week declined to comment on the status of the overall investigation, Berry’s employment status or on what exactly would have constituted a finding in context of the investigation.

“This matter concerns confidential personnel information. McAllen ISD does not comment on confidential personnel information,” Mike Saldana from Walsh & Gallegos, the law firm representing the district, wrote in a statement.

The board first discussed Forina’s involvement in the complaint in November. Widespread rumor and speculation followed news reports in December.

Forina, who is up for reelection in May, said Monday that he felt some of that chatter may have been politically motivated.

“I would hate to think that way, but based on my past history and some of the folks that I know were out there, I can’t help but think that there was some of that,” he said.

It’s not clear where the investigation stands in regards to other parties, but Forina says Monday’s decision puts the complaint to rest regarding his involvement.

“The investigation was done and I was found innocent — not guilty — on anything that could have in any way put the district in jeopardy,” he said.

The Monitor filed a public information request for the complaint in November.

McAllen ISD is seeking an attorney general’s decision to withhold that document, arguing it should not be released largely because of pending litigation.