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EPISD discusses audit related to possible conflict of interest involving board member

In a special meeting Tuesday, El Paso Independent School board members discussed an audit related to a possible conflict of interest involving board member Susie Byrd.

In February, the El Paso Independent School Board voted to hire an external auditor to determine whether Susie Byrd had a conflict of interest, since she was the campaign manager for congressional candidate Veronica Escobar while serving on the school board of trustees.

The vote was 4-2, with Byrd abstaining. Trustees Diane Dye, Chuck Taylor, Trent Hatch and Mickey Loweree voted yes. Trustees Al Velarde and Bob Geske voted no.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Board President Trent Hatch explained how the audit would work.

Hatch said local firm Gibson Ruddock Patterson LLC. would conduct the audit.

Hatch said the firm would provide a brief questionnaire that each trustee would have to complete in 45 to 60 days and the results of the audit would follow that.

Hatch said the audit can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

Board member Al Velarde, who was against the audit said, “The firm can only question board members and they have no subpoena power. This is a terrible waste of money that will not give us the answers we need.”

Following Velarde’s comment, Byrd said, “Why would we spend $10,000 to $15,000 with no real evidence. This (audit) is waste of resources.”

Hatch replied to board members, “We as a district have to be as transparent as possible.”

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