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Socorro ISD parents, teachers concerned following decision for state to appoint conservator

UPDATE: THE Socorro Independent School District board of trustees president, Michael Najera, held a news conference Thursday to answer questions about SISD accepting the Texas Education Agency to oversee district operations.

Najera said that the current budget deficit of $33 million did not influence the board's decision to accept the TEA conservatorship. Najera said the decision came in an effort to improve the public's trust.

“TEA is telling us that we have done some things wrong, that there are gaps. And so, absolutely, we're taking this we're accepting, you know, the consequences for what the findings are, and we're willing to move forward and correct them," said Najera.

There are currently 8 ongoing investigations by the TEA within the district of Socorro.

The Texas Education Agency told ABC-7 they have reached a settlement with SISD. This settlement will close all the investigations into the district and allow for a level of oversight through the placement of a conservator.

Steve Lecholop, deputy commissioner for governance at the TEA, said as part of the settlement SISD has requested that the agency issue a final report at the conclusion of the investigation which would include details about the investigation, the findings, and evidence collected. The TEA said it's aiming to issue this report at the end of the month, which will be made public and available for anyone to review.

With many beliefs in the public that the TEA would be taking over SISD, the agency wanted to clarify that while a conservator may direct board or district action, the current board keeps its governing authority.

"The conservator under the law has the power to direct the actions of the board and the superintendent. But in practice, the conservator is not there to run the day to day operations of a school district. The conservator is there as a partner, as someone who can help support the superintendent and support the board to guide them into a direction where they are not only addressing the substantiated allegations of the of the investigation, but also addressing the root causes," said Lecholop regarding the role of a conservator.

Lecholop also confirmed to ABC-7 that SISD will be the one paying the hourly rate to the conservator. Which by commissioner rule, conservators make $125 per hour. A rate that the TEA sees likely that SISD will have to pay not only for one, but two conservators

"There is the possibility that the agency appoints two conservators as opposed to one single conservator. And the reason for that is because there are two discrete issues that were the subject of our investigation. This investigation was into both governance concerns and district systems concerns. And what our experience is as an agency is that frequently, whenever there are multiple buckets of work that will need to be addressed by a district. It is most effective and impactful to appoint a co-conservators who are subject matter experts in those two different areas of work," said Lecholop.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Following the Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees' decision to accept the appointment of a Texas Education Agency conservator, or conservator team, parents and teachers are voicing their concern regarding the decision.

ABC-7 is working to speak with SISD and will bring you reactions from SISD parents and the Socorro's American Federation of Teachers in later newscasts.

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Tony Gutierrez


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