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TEA wants to permanently remove teaching certificates of administrators implicated in ‘Bowie Plan’

Eleven former El Paso Independent School District administrators, including some arrested Wednesday in connection with a district-wide cheating scheme, are asking the Texas Education Agency to reinstate their teacher certificates.

In its petition to block the request, the TEA said they all played a role in then-Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia’s conspiracy and all admitted to receiving contractual bonuses as a result. They are Damon Murphy, Terri Jordan, James Anderson, Maria Flores, Mirna Gamboa, Norma Regina Gonzales (aka Gina Oaxaca), Kathleen Ortega, Jesus Chavez, Anna Luisa Kell, Juan Manuel Duran and Jonnie Vega.

The court document states that between 2006 to 2011, Garcia implemented a scheme to provide state and federal agencies fraudulent information in order to artificially inflate accountability performance. To carry out the scheme, Garcia created the positions of Associated Superintendent of Priority and Secondary Schools, as well six director positions to supervise “targeted Priority Schools, including Bowie (High School).”

Damon Murphy, arrested Wednesday morning, was the associate superintendent at the time.

According to court documents, Murphy was tasked with administering a systematic scheme to artificially inflate performance at high schools. The plan, which included targeting sophomores who were perceived to be at-risk of performing poorly on the TAKS test, was first put into effect at Bowie High School and became known as the “Bowie Plan.”

Court documents state Murphy, “directed, encouraged, and/or permitted the manipulation of student records to prevent low-performing performing students from taking the 10th grade TAKS.”

Under the Bowie Plan, Murphy allowed some students to be promoted or held back to avoid the 10th grade, and therefore be ineligible to take the TAKS test.

The Bowie plan also affected foreign students. Administrators, court documents state, were directed or allowed to ignore foreign students’ transcripts used to properly place them, and in some instances, kept them in the 9th grade despite what their credits allowed.

Jordan was the district’s interim superintendent and the superintendent’s chief of staff. The TEA said that during her time as interim superintendent, Jordan failed to cooperate with the TEA by failing to report the result of an internal audit, which found several instance of “wrongdoing” by EPISD staff. The TEA said, “even prior to the audit, … Jordan had knowledge that violations …were occurring … Jordan took no action to halt illegal practices.”

In 2010, Anderson replaced Murphy as Associate Superintendent of Priority Schools. According to the TEA, Anderson directed, encouraged and/or permitted the the manipulation student records. The TEA said Anderson continued to implement the Bowie Plan.

Flores was the district’s Director of Title I Priority School and assigned to Bowies. She’s accused of falsifying Bowie attendance data by removing the “no credit” codes from the student records. According to the TEA, students obtained credit for courses and grade advancement they had not earned.

Gamboa was the district’s Director of Title I Priority School assigned to Bowie, then Austin High School. She allegedly ordered Bowie’s registrar to remove student credits in order to retain low-performing students in the 9th grade and keep them from taking the TAKS.

The TEA said Gamboa threatened one or more teachers with negative employment evaluations, even dismissal, if they did not comply.

As director of bilingual education, Oaxaca failed the report that the population of “limited english proficiency” student had dropped dramatically, from about 130-148 between 2001-2007, to about 50 in the 2008-2009 year. The TEA argues that Oaxaca took no action to halt illegal practices or to report the violations.

Ortega was Administrator of Guidance Services. The TEA said she also knew of wrongdoing an did not report it. She allegedly received information indicating the transcripts of foreign transfer students were being falsified as early as 2008.

Chavez was the principal at Bowie High School from May 5, 2008 to Oct. 29, 2012. The TEA said Chavez implemented the Bowie Plan at Bowie High School. The TEA said he allowed other to coerce teachers into changing students’ final grades from failing to passing.

Kell, Duran and Vega were assistant principals at Bowie. They’re accused of helping Chavez implement the Bowie Plan, to include directing, encouraging, and/or permitting teachers, counselors, and staff members to manipulate student record to prevent them from taking the TAKS test.

Duran was also assistant principal at Burges High School.

Kell, Chavez and Vega are accused of encouraging low-performing students to drop out, and discouraging foreign students from enrolling.

In its petition, the TEA is seeking the permanent revocation of the respondents’ teaching certificates. The 11 respondents have 30 days to respond to the TEA’s petition.

Here’s a list of the administrators and the status of their teaching certificates:

Teaching certifications: surrendered

Teaching certifications: case is pending

Teaching certifications: certification was revoked effective Jan. 1, 2015

No investigation, still valid

No investigation, still valid

Superintendent 03/30/2008 09/30/2013 Voluntary Surrender
Sanction Voluntary Surrender
Begin Date 4/2/2015

Classroom Teacher – Secondary Mathematics 07/01/2012 06/30/2018 Valid
Principal 07/01/2012 06/30/2018 Valid
Superintendent 07/01/2012 06/30/2018 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Mid-Management Administrator 09/01/2011 08/31/2017 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Principal 09/01/2010 08/31/2016 Voluntary Surrender
Superintendent 09/01/2010 08/31/2016 Voluntary Surrender
Sanction Voluntary Surrender
Begin Date 2/13/2015

Principal 06/01/2014 05/31/2020 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Mid-Management Administrator 01/01/2012 12/31/2017 Valid
Sanction Reprimand
Begin Date 6/12/2015

Superintendent 01/01/2014 12/31/2019 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Principal 11/01/2011 10/31/2017 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Principal 05/01/2014 04/30/2020 Valid
Note: This individual is currently under review by the SBEC Professional Discipline Unit.

Mid-Management Administrator 06/10/1994 Life Voluntary Surrender
Sanction Voluntary Surrender
Begin Date 6/4/2014

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