EPISD Board Wants Texas Law Revised

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 9:54pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 10:12pm

The El Paso Independent School Board President Isela Castañon-Williams says the system is broken, and in order to make a change in the district, board members need Texas laws to change.

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the board decided it will send a letter to The Texas Legislature, asking for the district's financial auditor to be accountable to the board, instead of reporting only to the superintendent.
"You can set people up to fail by creating a system that does not work. This current system does not work,” said Castañon-Williams.

The EPISD school board is turning to its attorney, asking how they can communicate with the district's financial auditor.
Trustee attorney Anthony Safi says right now, Texas law states that the superintendent is the only person who can supervise and evaluate the auditor.

Castañon-Williams says that makes it easy for a corrupt superintendent to hide financial misconduct.
"The superintendent obviously interfered considerably to a large extent with an auditor's function, and that resulted in the board not receiving vital information it needed to have,” said Castañon-Williams.

Castañon-Williams says because of ‘The Open Meetings Act’, any board discussion with the auditor must occur during an open session.  She says that could compromise an investigation.

"There are a couple of exceptions depending on specific circumstances that could be used to authorize a closed meeting discussion with an internal auditor,” said Board Attorney Anthony Safi.

The Board of Trustee's wants Texas lawmakers to make an exception, and allow the board to meet with the auditor behind closed doors to prevent illegal conduct on part of the superintendent.

"Individual board members are not acting as the board. So when we receive reports from the internal auditor, we are receiving them as individual board members, but we cannot take action and say the board took an action until we meet in an open form,” said Castañon-Williams.
Safi says that in Texas, only a few districts employ a financial auditor, so change in legislation might not be a top priority for law makers.

 

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