Reformers Rally to Oust EPISD Board Members

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 10:54pm

Many community activists and local politicians were outspoken Tuesday at the El Paso Independent School District headquarters, pushing for school board members to step down from their seats.

The group Reform EPISD is fighting for the hundreds, if not thousands, of students who were pushed out of the classroom in the cheating scandal that's now reached national headlines..

One of those students was 19-year-old Adriana Duarte.
She now has a three-year-old daughter, but no job and no education to stand on.

"They took the chance from me to be somebody in life," said Duarte, as she wept.

She was a sophomore at Bowie High when she was pushed out, she says, by then-principal Dr. Jesus Chavez.

Since then, her life has never been the same...

"I don't not want to end up selling burgers, shoes, I don't want to end up selling drugs for a living. Thinking that that's the only thing that I'm worth," she said.

Group members from Reform EPISD rallied outside the board meeting with signs and newspapers in hand.

"I'm a student. I take it personally when my fellow students aren't given the same opportunities that I've been given," shouted UTEP senior Lauren Pace, whose mother is a teacher in the district. She says she is the same age as some of the students who've been pushed out.

Members weren't limited to political leaders like State Reps. Dee Margo, Marisa Marquez, and former State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh.

A former EPISD trustee is calling out members of the board as well.

"We've basically got the same people in charge that were in charge when Dr. Garcia committed all of his acts. And basically the same people are still in charge and the district has done nothing to try to ferret them out," said Dan Wever, who served on the EPISD board from 1999 to 2003.

"They have not done their job, they need to get out of the way and let leaders lead," said Frances Wever, Dan's wife and a former teacher of 22 years.

Inside the meeting, board members heard comment after comment calling for their resignation.

But they also had some support.

"But I guarantee you, that these community volunteers that you see here in front of you, are doing the best they can under these awful, enormous, stressful circumstances," said Elvia Hernandez, a former city councilwoman for District 8.

But Duarte says the board hasn't done its job.
Despite "Program Outreach", designed to bring back students lost in the scandal, she says no one's contacted her to come back.
Now she's speaking out for herself, and others like her.

"I'm speaking for all of you, because we were judged. And we really need to go back to school. We need a diploma," she said.

Due to the ongoing meeting, Board members were not available for comment in time for broadcast.

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