- Politics and Social Issues
South East Bexar County Awareness: Southside ISD newly elected board member resigns; Team appoints another ESD6 member
Not so quickly!
Members of the community to include supporters were quick to take a second look at the actions of the board.
Vocal Supporter, Ms. Cantu, showed some teetering in her support and told the media that she hoped she wouldn't end up with mud on her face as she was hoping the board would have taken their time in appointing a new member.
Other members of the community showed their disapproval as well.
To their rescue:
None other than Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn, their campaign manager and constant coach came to their rescue. When a community member posted his uncertainty in the way the "team" went about appointing Mr. Wood to the vacant seat, but still approved of the "good" things they'd done for the district; Ms. Mendelsohn quickly jumped to defend the "teams" actions.
Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn: Great, glad to see that the positive has not been set aside. As far as perception....we can all perceive what we would like. The fact of the matter is that this board needed to take action on a vacancy that they had at hand. Knowing the proper process of filling a vacancy and when by law it can be filled should not be considered "STAGED". It is a process which is meant to immediately be acted upon, so that the business of the District may continue in the positive direction that it intends to go. I can only hope that this does not disillusion good people like you or others not to contribute and continue to be involved. With this information I can only hope that understanding the process or policies at hand, which can sometimes make people feel angry or feel that an error has occurred, will help. NOTE: all ISD Board members were given the opportunity to nominate someone of their choice.
October 3 at 7:02pm · 1
It would make great sense if it came from someone of moral and trusted character. Ms. Mendelsohn, President of the ESD6 allowed Mr. Brewers seat to be held vacant for his entire term and left his area without representation on the ESD6 board. It wasn't until she received pressure from the community that he was replaced and the seat was no longer in "holdover" status. At one point in time, the majority of her board sat at "holdover" status.
NOTE: How does Ms. Mendelsohn know what the board did in reference to nominations, if this was a board action item, it would have been a private item, as it was not mentioned at the board meeting as to how they came about the decision to appoint Mr. Wood, how would Ms. Mendelsohn know "closed session items"? Additionally, after a well placed call, it was noted that like before when Mr. Knapp and Mr. Martinez were not informed of the "team" having a board meeting, this time neither of the board members were included in the replacement of Mr. Luna.
The peoples perception of a dishonest move would seem to be right on point with the actions of this "team".
School board member ready to go so soon?
Board member Tony Luna was elected to the board of Southside ISD in May and has now stepped down. Mr. Luna had told members of the community that he didn't want to run, but the "boys" said they needed him to run, that's why he had not put out hardly any signs.
According to the agenda, Mr. Luna turned in his resignation and the board met to consider and take "possible" action. Scroll down to the bottom of the agenda, the board had an action item that would allow them to appoint the new member and administer the oath of office to the newly appointed board member.
While these steps are in legal order, the items that appear to be out of legal order are the fact that the board already had a possible replacement before actually holding a board meeting that would allow "all" members of the board to have input on the replacement.
The law states that when a member resigns from the board, the board president then has 120 days to appoint a member to the board. This to allow the board to make a decision as a whole. This agenda item makes it obvious that this board had met and had already decided who they would add to their team.
The replacement will remain on the board, until the next election, in May of 2015, at which time the individual will have to be elected to continue on the board at Southside ISD.
AND THE NEW MEMBER IS:
The team appointed another member of their "inner circle". ESD6 Board member, John Wood. Mr. Wood added credence to the fact that the board had violated the open meetings act by meeting and selecting the new appointee without a proper meeting. It was substantiated by ESD6 secretary, Sheila Staggs.
According to Mr. Wood, he had resigned from the ESD6 the day before the school board meeting and had asked Ms. Staggs to attend the School Board meeting "in case" she was needed. All this for something that Mr. Wood claimed he had no idea would happen.
Mr. Knapp and Mr. Martinez abstained and did not take part in the illegal actions of the board.
However, Mr. Knapp did comment on the fact that the newly elected board members were as "transparent as mud".
Southside Education Foundation Under Consideration
The Southside Education Foundation came under attack by board member Alma Guzman- Estrada before her friends were elected to the board, now with the majority vote on their side, the board has put them on notice. What legal issues are not known and with the lack of transparency.
The foundation will see a new board as the newly elected members will pick and chose their supporters to serve on this board as well.
Consider and Take Possible Action Regarding Public Information Act Requests
and public comments related to settlement of litigation of Alma Guzman-Estrada vs. Southside ISD
Members of the community at Southside ISD had been requesting information through the Public Information Act (PIA) because of the lack of transparency on the board. Most of the action items that have been coming out of the district have come with "as per discussed in closed session" An item that creates a sense of deception and uncomfortableness among the community members.
With tax dollars being spent as in the lawsuit brought on by Ms. Estrada (board member and the settlement) which has been hinted at being anywhere from $120,000 to $850,000 due to lack of transparency. The board now, a couple of months later, voted to take action as to the comments that are being made about the lawsuit.
According to the elections office, members of the political realm are not protected from comments, slanderous or otherwise because they have chosen a political and open position and voters have a right to their opinions. Something the team perfected while running for public office.
The newly elected board at Southside ISD boasted, as well as their constituents, as to the closeness of their relationships and that they have worked together towards meeting their agenda goals. Ms. Cantu, her self a very vocal member of their team and appointed chairwoman to the food service committee, made public comment in social media as to the case regarding Ms. Estrada vs. Southside ISD.
In a recording of the board meeting, the "town crier" Ms. Cantu was heard quickly defending the decision, claiming that the deposition backed up the decision. Since Ms. Cantu is not a member of the board, nor a member of the legal team, it once again showed that the new "team" at the helm of Southside ISD is discussing board agenda items with members of their support team and showing them classified documents. As Ms. Cantu remarked that she found them online, when questioned. Pending case documents are not online. However, it was brought up at the Southside ISD school board meeting that fees for $120,000 were paid to an attorney, when questioned in July by Mr. Martinez, the non-transparent board and interim superintendent refused to answer the question and instead admitted to the fact that it was a settlement; that was as far as they would go.
Unless the district had other pending lawsuits, which an investigation showed none. It would be easy to believe that the $120,000 was indeed the settlement for Ms. Guzman-Estrada.
PAYMENT TO BOARD TRUSTEE FINALLY REVEALED
Grandstanding, after much community pressure, on the newly elected board, they voted on a statement for the public. Mr. Martinez and Mr. Knapp abstained. The statement said nothing that the community had not already suspected. Even though the courts found that there was no merit, her friends on the board felt she had been wronged and used tax dollars to pay her $120,000. They tried to justify that it would cost the district more money to defend the case in appeal; however, the previous board had passed a motion that the costs would come out of a countersuit against Ms. Guzman-Estrada. The financial burden had the case continued would have been on Ms. Guzman-Estrada for her frivolous lawsuit and not the district. Having settled the suit with $120,000 of the districts funds, put the burden on the tax payer whose tax money was used to pay off Ms. Guzman-Estrada.
Does anyone see a violation here?
Superintendent May See Last Paycheck
According to the agenda, Dr. Juan Jasso, Superintendent of Southside ISD was to be fully terminated at the end of the board meeting. Agenda's leading to the current meeting stated that the Superintendent had been suspended without pay. However, with the lack of transparency from the current board, it had been rumored that Dr. Juan Jasso might have still been getting compensation from the district as they had not yet given reason as to his termination. An item that just now showed up on the agenda; adding credence to the communities speculation.
This move on behalf of the "team" cost the district considerably in finances. If the district maintained payment to Dr. Juan Jasso, while they were looking for "dirt" as it took them this long to find a reason to actually serve what would amount to a "pink slip". The taxpayer was paying the salary for a Superintendent that was not allowed to do his job, while also overpaying an unqualified/uncertified Interim Superintendent with taxpayer dollars as well.