TEA looking for board of managers candidates for potential La Joya ISD takeover

Only have a minute? Listen instead
La Joya ISD operations building March 11, 2022, in La Joya. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

The Texas Education Agency on Wednesday posted candidate applications for a board of managers at La Joya ISD, moving the district closer to state intervention that it plans to oppose.

After years of corruption scandals, the agency recommended in May the installation of a board of managers for the district — the most severe level of intervention.

In a split vote, the district’s board decided to resist intervention after a contentious meeting later that month.

“Our educators, administrators, and support staff remain steadfast in their dedication to delivering a well-rounded education, promoting student achievement, and fostering a nurturing atmosphere that encourages growth and success at the highest levels,” Board President Alex Cantu wrote in a statement addressing the agency’s search for candidates. “Your continued trust and understanding are vital as the Board navigates the appeal process and works tirelessly on behalf of our community.

“By standing together, we can ensure that the best interests of our students and their future remain at the forefront of all decision-making processes.”

The statement pledged diligence during the process and emphasized that a board of managers is not yet a forgone conclusion.

According to the TEA, the district has the right to appeal the agency’s special investigation unit’s recommendation for intervention at a hearing scheduled to happen later this summer.

After that, the agency’s website says, an administrative law judge will issue a findings and conclusions report that will be presented to the commissioner of education for a final decision — after which a board of managers could be appointed, if the commissioner determines that move is supported.

“The core purpose of the Board of Managers is to improve student outcomes by representing the vision and values of the community where every student is to be prepared for college, career, or the military in a manner that is equitable, transparent, and efficient,” the posting reads. “Through performance management practices, data-informed routines, and authentic stakeholder engagement, the Board of Managers provides oversight of the superintendent’s management of the school district to ensure that the community’s vision and values are being honored and students are being well-served.

“The appointed Board of Managers will temporarily replace the district’s elected Board of Trustees, and the Board of Managers will assume all of the powers and authority previously held by the Board of Trustees.”

La Joya ISD marquee on March 11, 2022 in La Joya. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

The agency has scheduled two community meetings on the process.

The first will happen on July 31 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Peñitas Public Library, which is located at 1111 S. Main St. while the second happens on Aug. 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the pavilion at Sullivan City Memorial Park.

The agency is looking for a prospective board that includes a majority of members who are eligible voters in the school district’s boundaries. Candidates would need to meet statutory eligibility requirements for school board trustees, not be convicted of felonies or crimes involving finances or children, able to pass an FBI background check and must complete a conflict of interest disclosure twice a year.

Returning the district to elected trustee control would be a yearslong process, according to the agency.