El Paso schools trustees say open meetings laws prevent them from supervising internal auditor; lawyer says that interpretation flat wrong


The El Paso school board is truly becoming the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

In the midst of a massive audit, the board now claims the state’s open meetings law is hindering it from overseeing and sharing information with the district’s internal auditor.

In fact, it even wants its statehouse delegation to propose legislation that allows it to do so, even though an open records lawyer says there is nothing in existing law that prohibits the sharing of info between the board and internal auditors.

Bill Aleshire, an open government attorney in Austin, told the El Paso Times, "If they're suggesting the Open Meetings Act prevents their duty for overseeing the internal auditor, they're wrong about that. If the board president goes to the internal auditor and says, 'I want you to tell me what you're doing on every audit,' there's nothing illegal with that."


This after the board was notified last month by the district’s lawyer that it legally erred by allowing internal auditors to report directly to the then-superintendent Lorenzo Garcia, who kept members in the dark regarding fiscal trouble in the district.

The district is trying to square up how its internal auditor was finding numerous problems yet the discoveries never made it to board members during the Garcia’s tenure. Among the problems were cheating and unexplained class promotions.

Garcia last month pleaded guilty to fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

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

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Photo of school bus by flickr user torres21, used via a Creative Commons license.