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Former El Paso ISD administrator James Anderson granted bond

Former El Paso Independent School District administrator James Anderson was granted at $30,000 signature bond Thursday afternoon.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Berton of the Western District of Texas denied the government’s motion to detain Anderson, saying he was not a flight risk or a risk to the community.

During the arraignment hearing on Wednesday, prosecution attorney Robert Almonte tried convincing the judge that Anderson was a flight risk. Almonte called FBI Special Agent David McBride to the stand to walk the court through the process of trying to find Anderson after the indictment came down and he failed to turn himself in.

According to the agent, the FBI went to Anderson’s home, place of work, his child’s school and parents’ home over the course of the six days before turning himself in.

Defense attorney Robert Perez made it clear that there have been several indictments over the years which never came to fruition. According to Perez, Anderson tried turning himself in on April 22 to the magistrate’s office. Perez told the courtroom that he called the duty magistrate to see if any indictments had been made public on April 22. The duty magistrate said nothing was in the system at that time.

Perez also gave the judge documents showing Anderson’s character. The documents were from previous employers from EPISD, during his work with the school.

After the judge heard both testimonies, each side was given closing arguments.

Both sides tried to prove or deny that Anderson was a flight risk.

The judge went back to her chambers and came out denying the government’s motion to detain Anderson. He was released on the $30,000 signature bond.

However, if he violates bond he will be arrested and could spend an additional 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Anderson has been indicted on four counts:

• Conspiracy to defraud the United States (faces five years in prison).
• Conspiracy to commit mail fraud (20 years).
• Mail fraud (20 years).
• Making a false statement to a federal investigator (five years).

Anderson appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Burton on Tuesday. He was denied bond, a decision his attorney said is surprising since Anderson turned himself in.

Anderson is alleged to have encouraged employees to lie about student test scores. In Anderson’s case, he allegedly tried to hide or eliminate of the test scores of African American students from the Department of Education.
Doing this would mean low test scores wouldn’t count against the district.

He is also accused of receiving marching orders from other administrators via emails. One read, ” When speaking with parents, please do not tell them that if their students pass Fall semester classes, they can petition to move to 10th grade at Christmas. That is against policy — they will remain 9th graders through May 2009, regardless of credit performance…”

The indictment also alleges that in August 2012 Anderson lied to investigators. It states, “He had been angered by the actions of a former EPISD administrator, which caused him to make a complaint to the EPISD Police against a high school administrator for engaging in criminal misconduct; and further told agents that the EPISD police officer refused to accept the complaint.”

The court is appointing his attorney because Anderson says he cannot afford one.

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