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Southeast Bexar County Awareness: "No Transparency" from Southside ISD school board

Updated on June 9, 2015

Who's dismissal? Who's residency?

Dr. Juan Antonio Jasso
Dr. Juan Antonio Jasso

Community Members Concerned with Dismissal of Superintendent.

As Ms. Mendelsohn loved to use the "no transparency" phrase to prove just about every point she made on the ESD6, she has continued to use the phrase tirelessly about the previous Southside ISD board. The phrase can be heard all over the media. Yet praising her current members on their transparency.

How true is it though. Since, Ms. Mendelsohn's boys and girl got elected to the Southside ISD school board, most of their motions have been made "as per closed session" leaving everyone that is not a part of the "inner circle" to guess what was discussed in closed session.

The newly elected board, held a "special" meeting on June 18, 2013 to make sure that they made good on several campaign promises. During the "open forum" section of the meeting.

A community member, Mr. John Lujan, Jr.--concerned with the dismissal of the Superintendent, read the "10 Commandments of Leadership" that Superintendent, Dr. Juan Jasso had put into practice during his tenure as Superintendent.

Another community member, Mr. Julian Gonzales, spoke regarding the board president's residency. (the fact that he did not live in the district.)

The board quickly decided that the concerns of these two community members should not be printed for the rest of the community or other members of the public to see. Not wanting to be transparent. They pulled the minutes and changed them on July 16, 2013.

The minutes now read:

John Lujan Jr- concerned with dismissal and read the "10 Commandments of Leadership". (This now makes no sense at all---Dismissal of what? )

Julian Gonzales--regarding residency (who's- another comment that makes no sense).

Ms. Mendelsohn, has continued to prove that the only transparency issues she has are with others, not her own or those of her inner circle.

Transparency- None

Do you want transparency from this board?

See results

Southside School Board - Changing Policy to Accommodate Personal Agendas and Pay Back Campaign Promises

The school board under the direction of Ms. Sylvia Mendoza Ruiz Mendelsohn have learned really well. Her "team" held a school board meeting to change school board policy and allow them to get away with all that they want to do and not be held accountable.

School Board May Have Violated Open Meetings Act:

I mentioned several months ago; when members of the community began wondering what was in it for Ms. Balderas, former disgruntled employee of the district and former board member that would make her join their team.

The answers came at the Southside ISD board meeting.

Policy would not allow a former member of the board to be employed at the district within a 6 month period after leaving the board, nor family members would be allowed to work within the district. Ms. Balderas a member of the staff at Somerset ISD, was heard bragging as to the fact of the changes and that she would be returning to Southside ISD as an employee. The board proved that to be a fact as Ms. Balderas' husband was hired at the district before any changes in policy were made. Mr. Balderas another employee that was let go and rehired by their friends on the board, cannot legally work at the district until mid November. If changes were made to the policy then he could be employed by the district after the meeting and not before as he has been working at the district since before the board met officially. This action proves what members of the community have said all along. They have met and made decisions as to what they are going to do and the meetings; as in the ESD6 under their mentor Ms. Mendelsohn are just for show.

In 2007, an investigation by the local media was done on educators who didn't make the grade and Ms. Balderas was one of those investigated. Assistant Principal at Gallardo Elementary at the time Balderas had taken the principal exam, and failed, 19 times. Ms. Balderas was given the opportunity again to pass the exam and did not. She has no certificate to be a principal because her temporary one expired in 2006 and she did not renew it nor pass the test.

Ms. Balderas currently has a provisional certificate which allows her to work as a History or Spanish teacher in grades 6-12. And a Paraprofessional certificate that allows her to be an Educational Aide I.

Since the "team" has proven to meet and make up their own local policy, the community now has Ms. Balderas as a member of the staff at Southside ISD, qualified or not and with a pay scale that like the Superintendent is not qualified for.

AUGUST 20, 2013: ESD6 and Southside ISD Held Board Meetings.

Aug 20, 2013, the Southside ISD held a meeting at 6pm., it was stated clearly on the website. Unfortunately, no one knew what the meeting was about as an agenda was not posted on the website.

The ESD#6 also held a meeting for 5 pm., which as previously done, allowed Ms. Mendelsohn to conduct her business and then attend the Southside ISD meetings to oversee her "team" in action.

The ESD6 meeting was originally a budget discussion and quickly revised and reposted to include contract approval for Southside ISD property use.

The contracts were ready and also on the Southside ISD board agenda. The board voted to accept the contract with ESD6, as per closed session, none of the details were disclosed.

The facility that the ESD6 contracted to use was shown as having been used as a school, then as the administrative offices and the DAEP campus. Portions of the building burned beyond extensive repair. The taxpayers money will have to go to make this building a safe environment for the ESD6 employees. Fire Chief, Joe Hearn of the ESD6 fire department and ESD6 board gave it the thumbs up. According to Mr. Hearn it was a sound building; yet the cost of repairs will be the determining factor on that.

Two members of the community spoke in open forum and questioned the settlement with board member Alma Guzman and indicated that they would be filing a complaint against the district's board for spending taxpayer money on a case that the district was winning.

Former board member, Raul Martinez questioned a check made to a law firm for $120,000. They would not disclose the information; after much prodding, it was said to have been for a settlement and that is all they were willing to acknowledge to the public.

A coach that had been released from his contract, due to an investigation was rehired by the newly elected board.

Prior to entering into closed session, Mr. Vela- Interim Superintendent at the time and Mr. Brewer, board president; met with Ms. Mendelsohn at the bench to receive coaching as to the items to be discussed.

Each day finds the community scratching their heads wondering what is going on, but beyond that no one has done anything about it. Leaving the elected 5 and the appointed two, along with Ms. Mendelsohn to run ramshod over the district, spending the taxpayers money as they did on the ESD#6.

It took them less than 10 months to bankrupt the ESD6 and less than that to do the same to the Southside ISD.

Southside Board Members Campaigning for Votes

2015 Elections Around the Corner

Southside ISD elections for 2015.

Members up for re-election/election.

Frank Cannon (he has chosen not to run again) , Manuel Sandoval, Alma Guzman, Daniel Rodriguez, and John Wood.

EARLY VOTING: April 27- May 5. :Vote anywhere you see a "vote here" sign.

ELECTION DAY: May 9, 2015: Vote in you precinct.

Keeping Score

June 18, 2013
Consider & Discuss Settlement with Travis Spears
June 6, 2013
Place Dr. Juan Jasso on Administrative leave
June 6, 2013
Make and offer to Ricardo Vela for Interim Superintendant
July 23, 2013
Settlement with board member Alma Guzman Estrada
July 23, 2013
Contract negotiations with Interim Superintendent
Aug 9, 2013
Aug 20, 2013
Aug 20, 2013
Board pays $120,000 to law firm
Aug 20, 2013
Board approves contract with ESD6
October 1, 2013
No minutes posted for the month of Sept
October 1, 2013
Board discussion Public information Act
No mention
October 8, 2013
Order Interim to contact media on transparency
Not an agenda item
In the three years or so that I have been covering Southside ISD and ESD6 activity, the school board has "always" posted their agenda's at the administrative offices and on their website, until this newly appointed board.

Grandstanding---still no transparency

The Superintendent, Ricardo R. Vela went to the media to prove their transparency and proved just how "not" transparent they were.

While, yes they did release documents, they were for the school years 2009-2012. The Dripping Springs school district that Ricardo R. Vela came from has won the transparency award, the difference between Dripping Springs and Southside ISD is that they post all current information on "board book" community access. If the Interim Superintendent and the "team" wanted to be upfront and transparent with the community, why did they leave out the 2013 information? There were ten months of information that were not being shared with the taxpaying community.

As a taxpayer in the community, an individual has a right to the documents through the Public Information Act; which the "team" made policy changes to and due to lack of transparency, those changes were not included in the motion. Having to go through PIA requires time and money on behalf of the district to gather the information for each request. An expense that could be avoided if they were transparent. Instead the board voted to change policy and make it expensive for community members to obtain information.

Who, What, When and How....

The Southside ISD is left with many questions after each board meeting. Who? What? When? How? and even Where?

As in the board meeting of Aug 9, it was brought to light that two of the board members, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Knapp were not informed of the meeting; as had always been customary. Leaving community members wondering, why? Were they not members of the board as well? What are the board members doing that they don't want these particular members knowing?

This special meeting was called to remove the Hiring Authority from an employee in Human Resources. If a Human Resources employee can no longer hire, then who can?

Southside ISD

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