in Houston, Texas
El Paso ISD officials can't get story straight on who called for audit - which found evidence of fudging with student transcripts
Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012, 10:41AM CST
By Steve Miller
books

Conflicting statements, possible violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act and altered scholastic transcripts all come bundled in a report from the El Paso Times stemming from a internal audit of the El Paso Independent School District.

The review found improprieties in transcripts for students at one high school, insinuating that the grades and grade levels had been inflated at either a teaching or administrative level.

The report found that 24 of 77 students reviewed were moved from the 9th to 11th grade without the proper number of credits. Thirty students took the wrong state assessment test based on their grade level.

One administrator, Myrna Gamboa, claimed to auditors that she was not properly trained and was not clear on the crediting system.

“She was unaware of how to read certain areas of the transcript which led her to assess a higher grade level than what was listed,” the audit stated.

The auditors at one point sought guidance from the Texas Education Agency, which “could not provide a definitive response” to questions regarding grade level and assessment. The TEA has also been hesitant to police allegations of cheating on state tests.

“They recommended the district have good local policy and keep good records,” the report said.

The audit has ignited a blaze of blame about how the whole audit was even authorized. Superintendent Terri Jordan told the Times that the audit was ordered be her predecessor, Lorenzo Garcia. One open records attorney noted that such an action without a public vote would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Next Jordan said in a statement that the audit came from the district’s board of trustees. But the Times found no mention of such an action in board minutes.

The district has on occasion flaunted state transparency laws, and Garcia faces federal charges of mail fraud and aiding and abetting theft from programs receiving federal funds. The feds claim he steered a no-bid $450,000 contract to a woman and business he was personally tied to.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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