["EL PASO, Texas —
El Paso Independent School District is under the gun once again by state officials.
El Paso's state senator, Jose Rodriguez, filed bills Monday in hopes of fixing the troubled district specifically in response to the cheat scandal KFOX14 has extensively been following.
"The purpose of these bills is to make sure these types of issues don't happen again, not just at EPISD but other school districts statewide," Rodriguez told KFOX14.
Rodriguez also said the school district's "inaction" to fire employees more quickly tied to the scandal is a cause for these five bills to be filed.
"What we have is a situation, for whatever reason, that this district was very slow to respond to these issues," Rodriguez said.
As KFOX14 has reported, the district school board president, Isela Castanon-Williams, has said repeatedly that internal and external investigations are ongoing. Therefore, to prevent legal action against the district and board, she is waiting for those to be complete.
Meanwhile, in response to Rodriguez bill, EPISD Board Trustee Rocio Benedicto released this statement:
"Speaking for myself as the Bowie-area representative, I'm disappointed that Senator Rodriguez hasn't made more of an effort to work with the district on more substantive legislative proposals to strengthen accountability. While SB 121 may be well-intentioned in wanting to make it easier for whistle blowers to sue the district, this may have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for school districts to fire employees who should be held accountable for misconduct. In addition to making it a state felony to manipulate data to TEA, what about penalties for others who knowingly engage in other types of wrongdoing that harm students? I think there needs to be a discussion about more types of actions that can harm students that should also be penalized with harsher laws."
As far as actually getting the bills heard, Rodriguez believes they stand a good chance in the Republican-controlled Senate. Rodriguez is a Democrat who won re-election this past general election.
"This is not a partisan issue. This is something that I'm sure all our members of the Legislature will be concerned about because it affects all of our children,” Rodriguez said.
Texas' legislative session begins Jan. 8."]
These laws will help the people here in El Paso be able to recall and remove the board members when necessary to get the districts moving forward. IT will also offer the state, county and city peace officer the ability to make a criminal case and file appropriate charges against the members of the board who obstruct the investigation of cases like EPISD has committed. Hopefully the whole house and senate pass the bills into law. It would be nice to also have the bills signed and into law as quickly as possible.