Texas Education Agency Introduces EPISD Monitor

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POSTED: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 10:38pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 10:47pm

The Texas Education Agency introduced the person who will ensure that El Paso Independent School District is headed in the right direction.

"It is a daunting task. It's a big task and if I can have a small part in it and students will be better served because of that, then I'm pleased to spend time here," said Dr. Judy Castleberry, TEA assigned monitor.

Castleberry works for the Region 20 Education Service Center and was previously assigned to monitor Dallas ISD for several years.

She will provide the state with monthly progress reports and make sure the EPISD implements several state mandated changes.

Unless the district makes improvements, the TEA could enforce more sanctions and possibly take away the district's accreditation status.

TEA placed the district on probation last week, citing integrity issues and the guilty plea from former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia. Garcia is accused of lying about students test scores to get more federal and state funding.

"It makes me angry when children are short-changed and so I guess it's that anger or the passion about fixing a system that's broken in regard to it's service to students or be apart of fixing it, that causes me to accept the responsibility," said Castleberry.

TEA said the district's actions manipulate the state's accountability system.

"If a district, any district does something of this nature it puts questions on the accountability system," said Ron Rowell with the TEA.

Castleberry will focus on testing, test security and test training.

The Texas State Teacher's Association said this is a start to get the district back on track.

"Hopefully, it will bring this district to compliance with what it needed to be in compliance with and start that healing process to where the employees in the district, our kids will be comfortable going back to school," said Norma De La Rosa.

The TEA does not have a time-line on how long Castleberry will be monitoring the district. It said Castleberry will be here until the job is done.

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