Special Investigation: EPISD Dropouts


POSTED: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 8:39pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 10:02pm

Truant officers are supposed to help kids stay in school. At least that's what we thought. Evidence suggests the opposite is true at Bowie High School.

Previous investigations have cleared Bowie of claims that it pressured students into leaving to raise the school's test scores.
But tonight, we talk to a woman who says she's seen Bowie's bullying tactics firsthand.

The Bowie High School freshman class of 2007 started off with 381 students.
168, less than half became sophomores to take the TAKS test.
So, where did the other students go?
Linda Hernandez Romero is an ex-employee at bowie who now works at a charter school.
She says she knows where those missing Bowie Bears went.

"To see that we had so many students come in from Bowie at one time, maybe in the forties, fifties and even more," Hernandez said.

Hernandez says students told her they were edged out of school and that truant officers looked for ways to get rid of them instead of keep them.

"The truant officers let the principal know who are the students or photograph them and then the principal takes it upon himself to contact the student, bring them in and tell them to withdraw," Hernandez said.

Hernandez is confirming what State Senator Eliot Shapleigh has been saying all along.

"Showing up at the bridge at 5 a.m. in the morning or knocking on apartment doors or going door to door on the South Side these are American citizens. 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.

She says some families were so scared of what the truant officers told them they left the district.

"Some of these parents were told that they were going to go to jail, they were going to be deported, and we've heard so many stories and I think the scariest one for these parents was being sent to court and having to pay $500 to $1500," Hernandez said.

We spoke with Judge Guadalupe Aponte, who handles truancy cases. She told us that she feels a principal or any other school leader cannot assess a fine to a student.
Judge Aponte says she does not fine the students until she hears their case, and even then each student usually has three months to do what the court orders.
If the student complies, the fine is waived and only the $85 in court costs must be paid.

We also asked Judge Aponte what the job of a truant officer is.

She said truant officers are there for security for the schools. The school has the responsibility to the student to send a truant officer if there are too many absences. Notice must be given to parents and if absences continue... then the school has the right to file a complaint and then students who are minors are brought to court with their parents.

Hernandez says she doesn't think the truant officers are being used the way they should.
"We also had others that were caught on the bridge by truant officers, there were some that truant officers went to their homes. They're not immigration, border patrol, it's just E.P.I.S.D.. The El Paso Independent School District. They should just tend to their business and accommodate and facilitate these students to a better education," Hernandez said.

We asked Hernandez why she thinks Bowie booted so many kids.

"They wanted it easy, they wanted these kids out, they cleaned it out and now we have a lot of kids are the disappeared," Hernandez said.

"I just want everybody to know that I'm not doing this for myself, I'm doing this for these kids that I see daily, struggle, and are very very intelligent. They have just been cut short of education within the El Paso Independent School District and it's just sad," Hernandez said.

We did speak with E.P.I.S.D today and asked them for a statement on last night's story. They have yet to respond. But, as we reported last night, the E.P.I.S.D. issued a statement reminding us that previous investigations have cleared Bowie of wrongdoing.
In fact, the district applauded what it called the "remarkable progress" that Bowie High School is making.

Comments News Comments

Truancy officers are not border patrol officers and should not by spying on who comes across the bridge, regardless of their intent. Gestapo tactics took place over 60 years ago, are they starting again just so a school can have better grades. Officers do your job and be ethical. Don't do what u r not allowed to do by federal law. If you continue, then maybe you as a truant officer should be prosecuted.

how can this lady be interviewed if she hasn't been here while all these changes are going on!! this story was based on one side of the story!! This is called yellow journalism!! what happened to getting both sides of the story!! I guess you guys need to go over the basics of journalism AGAIN!!!

-9th pd.BHS

This isn't true they are only telling lies since that guy was never seen in Bowie High ever......... if you wanna have a response from Dr. chaves you have to go after it not just request it.........By the way you only got two "students" to interview.... and that is not enough for the things you are saying

This is the perfect example of Yellow Journalism. Get all your facts right before trying to present something about this school. You only interviewed two students out of the whole school and you're ready to let your mouth run loose. All the people here at Bowie HIgh School have worked too hard to have a few people ruin Bowie's name again.

Hernandez is saying that her charter school is seeing possibly even more than 50 students from Bowie coming in. How is that bad? Does not the charter school gain students and income from this? Are not charter schools supposed to be better than public schools? If they are not, why is she working for one? BettyCrocker says Hernandez is not an x-employee, is that true? lora1313 says parents are not being given access to due process, shouldn't this be the focus of NewsChannel 9 and see if it's true?

and Bowie has more students. I also would like to invite Eliot Shapleigh to come to Bowie and spend one day with the people that make Bowie succeed. We would just like to stop being falsely accused because Bowie is a great school and we know we don't deserve all of this, we know we're not cheaters in any way. Please stop with all of this. Please. Thank You.

Bowie Bear
Class of 2011

..... I mean how absurd is that? Yes, it was a drastic change, but you know why? because we opened our eyes after being threatened to the extreme of even shutting down the school right then we began our plan to not let that happen. Where are the students that just disappeared? They were placed in their correct classification or they simply left, mainly because of the Bowie reputation of failure. This year we became one of the top school to which students transferred, you'll see that my class...

...cheating, it's about hard work and dedication that we put in. Now, hey News Channel 9 KTSM, I cordially invite you to visit Bowie one day and talk to the CURRENT students and CURRENT teachers maybe then it'll be shown how hard Bowie fights to be excel, which is obviously not what the public wants because we finally excelled after 5 years of being in the bottom of the district to being one of the best, and now people want to penalize us for it....

This lady that was an employee at Bowie YEARS ago has no idea how things run now, nor how they were ran three years ago. I'm from the class that had the 381 students and I know that many of the freshman students were sophomores that didn't have the credits to be accredited as such or with things of that nature. Now, if we have been cleared TWICE why do you keep bothering the subject. I by first hand know how hard we have worked to better ourselves and our school. It's not about...

This lady that was an employee at Bowie YEARS ago has no idea how things run now, nor how they were ran three years ago. I'm from the class that had the 381 students and I know that many of the freshman students were sophomores that didn't have the credits to be accredited as such or with things of that nature. Now, if we have been cleared TWICE why do you keep bothering the subject. I by first hand know how hard we have worked to better ourselves and our school. It's not about...

While this news story zeroed in on Bowie what is really happening in the EPISD concerns all schools in the District.

The EPISD figured out they did not have make the students disappear but rather could keep them around and figure out some way to not count the students that were “projected to fail” the TAKS test.
Yes, the district was able to target students as “Projected to Fail” and teachers were even instructed to color code their grade books to show this category. (RED)

You should be interviewing real Bowie High School teacher and sudents. These accusations are not well supported and have already been proven wrong. What is it that you people want? Bowie High School has worked hard and continues to do so by preparing students and there are no laws being broken in the process. Eliott Shapleigh should look for something more productive and valid to do with his time.


For your information Hernandez does speak English the way it was written in the article next time take the time to actually press the play button and you could of listened to her

Is that your answer to my questions? Play the button? Who are you? Hernandez's publicist? She doesn't sound like if she belongs in educating children or young adults. Maybe that is why she no longer works for Bowie?

a new investigation shoulh be started, and the investigators should look for the student and parents of the students that moved to a charter school or left the district, and find out what really happened. As for turant officers, I have no problem with them going to the border and looking for kids that crossover to attend school. Once identified, the school should check and see if they are American citizens, if they are leave them alone. Get rid of the kids that are not.

Are not the missing students those students that were not attending school in the first place? How much attention should Bowie High School give those that do not want to learn or even show up? How much attention is given to the students that do show up? Is it not true that if a student does not show up consistently, the family may be fined the maximum or even jail time? Is it not the law that they are ignoring? Does Hernandez really speak English the way it is written in this article?

Where is the out cry from the LULAC about this outrage against Latin-American citizens? I am deeply troubled by the fact that no one in the latin-american community is saying anything! The legendary reserve of our community should be thrown aside and we should be marching in the streets and protesting in front of Bowie High School!

If theres anything you should be protesting about is: senators and reporters that have nothing better to do than try and find lame and dishonest excuses to cheat Bowie out of its hard work!!

What is the out cry? Is it that teachers are not leaving their attending students and waste their time to go after those that don't show up and force them to learn? Is the out cry that the truant officers are doing their job and are explaining the consequences of breaking the law of not going to school? That Bowie is doing the best they can with the students and parents that want an education? What is the protest going to be about? To see how many uniformed people show up?

Good day!

These stories continue and without a good response.

Honestly, I don't think that it is being investigated by E.P.I.S.D. All in All the response is the same all the time just a "STATEMENT."

Investigate and make those responsible for these actions pay the price by some sort of DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS.

Finalize this story and move on with some positive news. Follow up in May 2011 with a some results to these allegations.

Good Day!

Bowie was alreasy cleared by the TEA and so was the EPISD..all these kids that were "missing" were already accounted for...this so called x employee at bowie never worked at Bowie..Shapleigh has it in for Dr Garcia personal reasons and now Shapleigh is taking it out at Bowie..

kids and parents being accused of violating truancy laws should have access to due process of law, especially access to legal representation. They should be given the opportunity to have the cases heard by a jury, and made explicitly aware that this is their right. JP courts can order drug tests, levy fines on parents and students, and otherwise seriously interfere in the lives of families. This system needs some serious checks.

there's a general problem with how truancy is being handled here. I saw this first hand when my kids were at Coronado. Those truancy hearings in the JP courts are often shams, to be blunt. Parents and students are railroaded by the judge and school reps, who work as a unit against the kids and parents. I hired an attorney for about 300 bucks to represent myself and my daughter after attending one hearing. Wit lawyer, we were treated with respect in the court room. We were the only ones w/lawyer.

well if your kids would go to school you wouldn't be in that position now would you..stop blaminng others and send your kids to school

betty crocker the issue is not Truancy, its about students who do not test well being pushed out of school so the school looks good for TAK testing. Students who do not test well should be given help not pushed out of school. What the schools need to do is find the student who are enrolled in schools, who do not live where they say they do and kick them out. This will make classrooms smaller and the teachers can spend more time with them, improving their scores.

Flaco, just ignore her.

Truancy in schools is a big issue & as a result schools tell students & parents of the risk of having to appear before a judge & might be assessed a fine for not attending school. This is used to encourage students to go to school, which is only part of the battle, because once they are there they need to be willing to work & learn. I think it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to spend money to check on an issue that does not exist. It would have been better spent on tutoring them instead!

If you look long, hard and ask plenty of people I am sure you will find someone that will give you an answer that you are looking for. I am one that is excited about the changes and the work being done to help the students that are attending school and suceeding. I see it all the time how many students dropout and struggle throughout there life time.

We faced many issues that forced many students to dropout, which is a constant struggle and with no student left behind and the challenges faced by all schools by this exit exam have added to this problem. Bowie was examined twice to see if there was wrongdoing and they were cleared. The school should be praised for what they are doing to make a difference for the students that are going through the sytem and not rediculed for what what one person believes to be an issue that does not exist.

I find this story and the one from Eliott Shapleigh misleading and uninformed of the real issues and situation that schools such as Bowie High School have faced for many, many years. I am a graduate of Bowie High School class of 1984, and my freshmen year we started the school year with the largest frehman class at the time (604 students). By our senior year the graduation class was 296 students, of which not all were four year seniors.

Post new Comment