EPISD Board calls special meeting to discuss Cabrera’s involvement in lawsuit

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso ISD Board Members are asking for a Special Meeting this Friday to discuss Superintendent Juan Cabrera’s alleged involvement in a scheme to defraud the State of California of millions of dollars.

Board trustee Al Velarde confirmed to KTSM that he and other board members requested the special meeting to discuss the lawsuit. Velarde says Board President Bob Geske has agreed to hold the meeting on Friday, but an exact time hasn’t been set. All school board meetings must be posted on the district website 72-hours in advance.

“We need to take a look at that lawsuit, and you know what is happening. We just need to find out what is going on, what Mr. Cabrera’s involvement is in all of this,” Velarde told KTSM. He said the majority of the meeting would be in Executive Session.

The meeting comes as a petition asking for Cabrera’s release or resignation grows.

When asked whether the Board would be asking for Cabrera’s resignation or placing him on administrative leave, Velarde said, “At this stage, all I am trying to do is figure out what is going on.”

The lawsuit was filed on September 15, 2020, in San Diego but was just made public earlier this week after a copy was leaked to the media.

Cabrera and former EPISD Board President Dori Fenenbock are accused of conning investors out of five million dollars for an online school.

According to the lawsuit obtained by KTSM, Cabrera and Fenenbock approached a California charter school company in 2018 with plans to develop a for-profit virtual school called “E-School Texas.” The lawsuit alleges Cabrera and Fenenbock reached out to and engaged in a fraudulent scheme to solicit and induce investors and convert cash investments to create to their own use.

This is not the first time Cabrera has been accused of wrongdoing. In 2018, Cabrera was accused of ‘vendor favoritism’ when he awarded a $500,000 contract to Gafcon, a San Diego based company, to oversee bond projects.

At the time, District 3 Trustee Susie Byrd told KTSM the district had already hired a company—the Jacobs Group, based out of Dallas—to oversee the bond projects. Byrd expressed concern that the hiring of Gafcon would be “duplicative” and “expensive.”

An internal audit revealed Cabrera also helped craft some of the bid paperwork ahead of the vote.

According to district documents, EPISD auditors, “…found the procurement process…was conducted in accordance with district policies and state laws/regulations.” “However,” the paperwork continued “(Auditors) found indicators of vendor favoritism, insider information, and bid tailoring.”

The district ended up cutting all ties with Gafcon. In an interview with KTSM in 2018, Cabrera strongly denied any impropriety.

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