EPISD Students Say They Were Pressured to Drop Out

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POSTED: Monday, November 15, 2010 - 6:48pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 8:16pm

Did an El Paso school pressure students to quit in order to improve the school's academic standing?

That question is been raised before with Bowie High School.

Now, it's being raised again after several students came forward to talk about it.

As strange as it may sound, some believe the El Paso Independent School District has bullied some students into dropping out of school.

17 year-old Cesar Diaz is one of them.

"I don't think that's fair because we are citizens of the United States and we have all the right to study here and to finish our high school. I know that there are a lot of kids that he has done the same and I don't know what else to do because I really want to study and finish my high school, me and my brother," Diaz said.

Students are claiming that they were given no other option but to leave Bowie High School.

This student says she too was forced out by the principal at Bowie, saying to stay in, her family would have to go to court and pay a lot of money.

She asked us not to show her face, fearing retribution from district officials.

"Mr. Chavez said that no matter if I stayed and paid the court money, that no matter what I would fail for the year and that he could no longer have me there in his school," the student said.

"He (Dr. Chavez) told my sister to send me to Juarez with my parents. If she didn't we would have to go to court and she would have to pay $500 and I would have to pay $500," the student said.

State Senator Eliot Shapleigh says he has heard these same stories from other students in EPISD.

"I'm talking about U.S. citizens have a birth certificate, born here in this country. And they're telling them, you can't come to school today," Shapleigh said.

"It's been going on since at least 2007. The big years are 2007 and 2008. Because that was the highest year of pressure from TAKS testing. The No Child Left Behind law kicked in, they had a set of kids they had to do something with and rather than give them the tutoring and education that they needed, they disappeared them," Shapleigh said.

"Disappearing" is Shapleigh's term for forcing students out of school, who would soon be taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test.

"What they're doing is getting them out of the classroom so they can test just the top half and have good TAKS scores," Shapleigh said.

The numbers tell their own story:

87% of the freshman class in 2005 went on to become sophomores the next year.

79% of the freshman class in 2006 became sophomores.

In 2007, the numbers took a big drop.

The number of freshmen moving to the sophomore class was less than half, 44.6%

And it's that sophomore class that would soon be taking the TAKS test.

Critics say the school targeted those they believed would not score well and edged them out of school.

One of those was 17 year-old Cesar Diaz.

Though he says he was a good student at Bowie High, earning A's and B's, today, both he and his brother, are out of school.

"We're not doing nothing. We're just here we're not studying and that's bad," Diaz said.

Diaz says that Bowie High School Principal Jesus Chavez removed him from the school claiming that he was not an El Paso resident.

"I was living here with my aunt. But, my mom got sick and that's the only reason I was crossing the border was to go and see her, because I mean she's my mom," Diaz said.

"He just told us that you were crossing the border and you can't be here anymore. And he told us that he had persons in the border seeing which students came to Bowie High School from El Chamizal. And then he told us that he was spying on my house, on my aunt's house that we're living here and that he didn't see when we were going out. And that he had been spying on us for a long time, since we got to Bowie High School," Diaz said.

"They don't tell you what the law requires them to tell you. That you have an absolute right to be at school when you're an American citizen and you have a residency there. They don't tell you that you can go over to the district and appeal it. They just roust you right out of school. And so all of these students show up at a charter school. So, now we're paying for them twice," Shapleigh said.

We've requested an on camera interview from Principal Chavez or a spokesperson from EPISD so far that hasn't happened. We asked the district for comment and they said they wouldn't respond to our story unless we gave them the names of all of the student's we interviewed. They also asked for personal information about the students. We declined this afternoon, the EPISD responded to the claims in this story.

Spokeswoman Berenice Zubia says,

"The allegations were found to be untrue by the district."

"The Texas Education Agency also investigated and found them not to have any merit."

"We are very proud of the remarkable progress that Bowie High School and the entire district are making."

Tonight, we'll talk an ex-Bowie employee who confirms Senator Shapleigh's allegations and says she was shocked by what she saw coming from Bowie.

Comments News Comments

WHAT YA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU BAD BOY, BAD BOY??? GO FBI, TAKE DOWN GARCIA AND ALL HIS CRONIE LOSERS!!!!

How long was this student at Bowie? who is he? There are other students who come from across the border, and everything is perfectly fine with them. Maybe you should interview current students and teachers to have a real inside look at what is going on. This article has absolutely no valid information to back up accusations that have already been proven wrong. ---5th pd. BHS--

Perhaps some students were not used to be held accountable for their actions. The problems that Bowie High School has overcome are amazing to say the least. The school was reviewed by the district and another party outside of the EPISD & found to be clear of all charges claimed by the senator. Let's stop using up the limited resources the district, school administrators have to address issues that have been addressed. This will allow them to do the jobs they were hired to do, educate students!

Since when has it been ok to advance a child from one grade to another. When Bowie was under pressure to perform up to the standards required they bought in new people to make sure this was done. There are difficult choices that are made that many people don't see. They don't know how behind some students are and the work needed to continue to advance students that have reached the academic requirments ( a passing grade).

This is NOT an issue of citizenship or what not. This is an issue on how far a school district/ superintendent/ principal will go in order to improve their TEA ratings on TAKS scores. Forcing students to quit/ and or to go to a charter school is completely ILLEGAL!!! This is NOT the only school in EPISD that this is happening to. Wake Up El Paso!!! Our students are being discriminated because of a deeply FLAWED state mandated test. As an educator from a "legit" district I am completely appalled.

The truth is that many students who were attending Bowie BEFORE 2008 WERE transfer students from other areas of town. Many of these kids WERE failing classes AND were NOT attending school. Their transfer requests were denied, and they returned to their respective schools all over town. Other schools follow this same LEGAL process. These students were NOT "disapppeared". By state law, ALL schools must report where kids go when they leave a school. KVIA needs to present all the FACTS.

Any kid that is a good student and has good grades, the schools will fight for you not force you to drop out. It smells like "pobrecito me syndrome" You know the one; dog ate his homework and then gets mad because the teachers are riding them to do their work. My question is where are the parents?

enough all ready! Our own people picking on each other. Want to go to school then move into El Paso. You have an aunt here, move in with her and you qualify to go to school. If you are a resident or a citizen, that is. Some of these kids just use addresses to be able to go to school and do not actually live here at all. If we who live here and pay taxes have to comply by the rules so do they. End of story! What about the students that passed, where are their high fives!

If the student has dual-citizenship then he has every right to be in any U.S. public school system.

If he was "determined" a non-legal resident of the U.S. till proven other wise then they just violated the "No Child Left Behind Act" and need to have a civil lawsuit brought up against them.The student should of been enrolled in a special tutoring program that is manditory till he improves his academic standing.

If all options to help the student are exausted then you can kick him out.

This is such a mess! Who do you believe? I do resent these students that manipulate the system to attend schools in El Paso knowing darn well that they don't reside locally. It's how they get their food stamps and other help from our government. The schools are forced to accept them because they present a utility bill. They do bring down the school funds because they are forced to accept these illegals and they fail the TAKS. Darn if you do and darn if you don't!

That Cesar boy was in my class. He was a 17 year old freshman. He will be 18 this month!

Every US citzen have a right to go to school NO matter if they live in juarez or el paso. sometimes the kids cant help that they have to live in juarez. they have a right to be in school and get a good education no matter what. they shouldnt have to pay to attend school. i have had so many problems with episd sense i moved here in 2007 and honestly cant stand the school system here anymore.

BOWIE IS A REALLY GOOD SCHOOL AND STUDENTS SUCH AS I HAVE WORKED REALLY HARD TO PASS THE TAKS

on that note this kid is lying if he was making good grades then why did drop out? EPISD does not have people spying they do have truancy cops which means they do residency checks which is completly legal they want to make sure they live in the district if they dont live within the boundary then they send themback to their home school..if this kid lives in Juarez then he should going to school there. I'm tired of Juarez kids coming over here in coming to OUR schools.

if these kids would only get good grades and GO TO SCHOOL then they wouldn't have to drop out...EPISD would not pressure kids into dropping out, in fact they do the opposite they encourage kids to stay in school or they send them to Sunset but they dont make them dropout, so kids stop making excuses go to school and stay in school and get goodgrades

Fire the principal and superintendent.

I am proud to say that I am from El Paso because of the tolerance we have for the diverse population in our city. I have been in many other cities in the U.S. and they don't compare to El Paso. It makes me sad to see the intolerance of immigrants raise its ugly head here in my city - of all places! U.S. citizens have the right for a good education and no one should deny them that right! Orion

Stop bringing up the same story. It's been found to be untrue. Judging by the grammar of the this "good student," facts don't seem to have any place to stay in this article.

it makes no sense to claim that the facts are wrong because of grammar. the facts are either right or wrong based on evidence, not grammar.

It's about time this came out! Bowie High School and Chavez's practices regarding dual-citizenship students is common knowledge, the secret everyone knows about. I hope EPISD takes a closer look and does something about the situation because it's costing them federal funds. I refuse to allow my military dependent children to attend an EPISD school.

For all the students out there that have been bullied by the schools administration is pretty damn sad.

Students, fight for your rights. Come forward and blow the whistle on everyone that is doing this to you.

You should write a letter to President Obama and anyone else that will listen.

EPISD, you need to investigate this allegation to its fullest and respond accordingly. These kids need a chance no matter who they are. Is your paycheck cut in half. Does that matter?

Perhaps a public statement from the students involved, Sen Shapleigh (if he is still interested) can throw some weight on these allegations. They (Bowie) have TEA's blessing, so this is going to very hard to prove. Perhaps some Bow HS teachers with some intestional fortitude can come forward.

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