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Former Bowie Counselor: My life was hell, district bonus ‘dirty money’

Former Bowie High School counselor Patricia Scott testified Thursday in the Texas Education Hearing for two former El Paso ISD administrators.

Scott said when Principal Jesus Chavez and Assistant Principal Anna Luis Kell arrived at Bowie in 2008, there was a change in classification for credits to allow students to get to the next grade level.

Prior to the change, Scott said students needed 5.5 credits to move from 9th grade to 10th grade. After the change, students needed 6.5 credits to get to 10th grade.

Students and parents were not well-versed on the change, Scott said.

The former counselor ran an audit on transcripts for students she was in charge of and realized there was a change. 77 students had missing grades, or credits, which they did have a month prior to the audit, Scott testified. She thought it was computer error and had another counselor check. That counselor found the same numbers.

Scott testified she showed the discrepancies to Cathleen Ortega, the director for all district counselors. Shortly after reporting, Scott applied for a transfer to Jefferson.

The former counselor got very emotional when asked by TEA why she left Bowie after 14 years at school. “My life was hell,” Scott said, adding Kell was on her back and that she was not treated well, both personally and professionally.

While at Jefferson, Scott refused her bonus at the end of the year after the school district met its “adequate yearly progress” goals. When asked why, Scott called the bonus “dirty money.”

Former Bowie Registrar Juan De Santiago took the stand Thursday to discuss his role in the alleged cheating scandal.

As registrar, De Santiago had the ability to change student classes and grade, which are secured through a login and password.

De Santiago testified that former assistant principal Anna Louisa Kell asked for his password when he was Bowie’s registrar. He said he knew it was against school policy; however, he still gave her the password.

After giving Kell the information for his login, several dates showed his account logged in, when in fact he said it wasn’t him on the account.

De Santiago also testified that Myrna Gamboa, the then former Director of EPISD’s Priority Schools Division, was changing grades, and under oath said the former principal Jesus Chavez and Kell knew she was doing so, but did nothing about it.

Chavez, Kell and Duran are facing the loss of their professional educator licenses and certifications. They are currently not facing criminal charges in connection with the EPISD cheating scheme that landed a former superintendent and several administrators behind bars.

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