EPISD Probe Blows Wide Open

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POSTED: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 8:15am

UPDATED: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 12:44pm

EL PASO - "The FBI has officially opened an investigation against the El Paso Independent School District with the allegations of fraud against the government," FBI agent Mike Martinez said. 

It's a blockbuster development in the investigation into the EPISD. 

Usually when you think of cheating, students come to mind. But this time, it's not students but administrators who are under FBI scrutiny. Agent Mike Martinez says a NewsChannel 9 investigation a few weeks ago helped trigger the FBI probe.

 "This was based on a letter that we received here in the FBI office which was sent by Senator Shapleigh. The letter was sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Texas as well as the special agent in charge here in the El Paso Division. That basis, as well as the exposes done by your station, has led us to the investigation that we are currently ongoing," Martinez said. 

As we've reported the past few weeks, schools like Bowie High School are accused of preventing under-performing students from taking the TAKS test to improve the EPISD's overall scores. 

The U.S. Department of Education will look into that allegation when it conducts an audit on the EPISD starting Monday. 

The FBI's involvement is something different altogether. 

"Details we can share are this is in the preliminary stages and, again, I need to emphasize they are based on allegations at this point," Martinez said. 

The FBI will say its investigation goes much further and runs much deeper than the current probe into the TAKS test controversy. 

We'll have more details on the FBI investigation into the EPISD as they become available.