The La Joya ISD Board of Trustees heard a report Wednesday on corrective action spurred by two administrators and two trustees pleading guilty this year in an ongoing corruption investigation in Western Hidalgo County.

That corruption investigation could have serious consequences for the district.

Earlier this month State Board of Education Member Ruben Cortez said the Texas Education Agency was considering intervention options for the district.

On Friday, the district said TEA personnel have not visited the district. The district has, however, officially received notice that the agency is looking at steps it will take, Cortez said.

Trustees said relatively little during Wednesday’s discussion on corrective action.

Asked for comment, the TEA said Thursday that it does not comment on ongoing investigations as a standard policy.

Superintendent Gisela Saenz was willing to speak about the ongoing investigations during that corrective action conversation. She did almost all of the talking, reading off a timeline of events that started on Jan. 6 with former trustee Armin Garza’s guilty plea to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The timeline, Saenz said, was a response to information about the convictions contained in criminal documents and news articles.

Essentially, Saenz described three months of trainings and investigations meant to root out the rot at the district punctuated regularly by the guilty plea of one district leader after another.

Saenz said within a week of former trustee Armin Garza’s guilty plea in January, the district contacted the TEA to schedule a Lone Star Governance training for the board.

That training, essentially, is meant to teach boards how to serve their students more efficiently and effectively.

The board agreed to participate in the training and adopt its framework later that month.

On Jan. 14, Saenz directed the district’s chief financial officer to review files for vendors mentioned in criminal documents and directed the district’s human resources assistant superintendent to review employee stipends and prepare a report on unjustifiable stipends.

Later in the month the CFO was directed to review purchases made by the district’s executive director for transportation, energy and grounds after he pleaded guilty to federal bribery and money laundering on Jan. 21 and resigned.

“The CFO was directed to conduct a search of all purchases made by this administrator from January 2017 to January 2022 to identify purchases that bypassed traditional competitive bidding processes,” Saenz said.

In early February, the district’s executive director for student services pleaded guilty to federal bribery and resigned. That led to the district reorganizing its student services and operations departments and reassigned duties previously performed by those two former administrators, Saenz said.

Saenz also kept looking for some kind of training to throw at the increasingly scandal-ridden district. She met with Region One Interim Executive Director Judith Solis on Valentine’s Day to discuss possible board training and actions that would improve purchasing procedures, and the district conducted training for central office administrators on Feb. 16 and training for trustees on March 1.

Those trainings, Saenz said, pertained to procurement, contract processes, and purchasing rules and regulations.

The district’s response seemed to strengthen in March, right around the time trustee Oscar “Coach” Salinas pleaded guilty to federal extortion.

On the first, they met with external auditor Noel Garza to discuss findings from a review of purchasing policies to determine whether they were in compliance. Trustees participated in a work session on the results of the review on the 10th, discussing resolutions to direct administration to review operating procedures and create a corrective action plan to improve purchasing and governance.

“The legal policies — procurement policies as they stand — we didn’t find any evidence the district was not compliant with those legal policies and those board policies at the same time,” Garza said at that meeting. “Where we did identify were several opportunities for strengthening.”

What Saenz didn’t mention was action the board seems to have taken based on those guilty pleas and investigations into operations.

Earlier this month the board terminated an agreement with Performance Services Inc., an energy savings company tied to the corruption scheme in court documents.

On Wednesday, the board terminated an agreement with Ecolectrics, another energy company tied to the scheme in court documents.

During the corrective action talk, Trustee Alex Cantu suggested exploring legal action against PSI in hopes of recovering damages for the district — the very thing the Agua Special Utility District did earlier this month.

“I would like for us to investigate an audit and determine whether the project was done legally or if we were overbilled for this project,” Cantu said.

What’s next for the district? The board has a work session on teacher compensation and preliminary budget items slated for Monday.