EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — After a lawsuit accusing EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera and former board president Dori Fenenbock came to light, school board members said they want to call for a special meeting to look over the lawsuit together before anything comes next.
District 2 trustee and school board vice president Al Velarde said he’s already asked President Bob Geske to call a special meeting next week so all board members can “come together and take a look at this document.”
“Certainly what is being said in that lawsuit is not good but I also understand it is a lawsuit being prepared by plaintiffs so it is a one-sided document,” Velarde said.
As KTSM 9News previously reported, the Superintendent and Fenenbock are accused of defrauding investors out of $5 million to start an online charter school, eSchool Texas. The civil lawsuit was filed in a California court in September.
“I have already asked the board president to convene a special meeting so that all board members can come together and take a look at this document,” Velarde said. “But obviously it is to early to go and say this document and everything contained in the document is true.”
Meanwhile, an EPISD parent Kendal Jessup said the allegations need to be investigated.
“The school board needs to fire him before we see an actual conflict of interest,” Jessup said. “I mean, tell me, can he definitively say the reason schools haven’t resumed face-to-face is because its in interest to push parents to charter schools, I mean there is a conflict of interest here.”
Under the Superintendent’s contract, it allows him to serve as a consultant as long as it doesn’t interfere with his EPISD duties as superintendent. The lawsuit alleges Cabrera promised to resign as superintendent of the virtual charter school became a success.
“At almost $400,000 dollars a year, he should not have personal time to consult other school districts, all his time should be devoted to the school that employs him,” Jessup said.
Velarde told KTSM he wants to bring in an independent party to look over the lawsuit, such as an attorney, to provide legal opinion when reviewing the document.
“That’s what I’m going to be asking for, that we can begin taking a look at this incident, dissecting it and come up with some independent facts to help us determine in the future what we need,” Velarde said.
Norma De La Rosa, the president of the El Paso Teachers Association, said they were also aware of Cabrera and Fenenbock’s endeavor to set up the online school back when Fenenbock was president of the EPISD Board of Trustees.
“After that, we didn’t hear much about what was going on with that quote-unquote business,” De La Rosa said. “We didn’t hear anything from any of our other TSTA locals across the state as in regards to see if they were trying to get into those school districts so when we heard this yesterday it actually caught us by surprise, we were not expecting to hear anything.”
EPISD school board President Bob Geske said he has not read the lawsuit and would like to wait until he has a chance to look it over and speak with Superintendent Cabrera before commenting.
Cabrera and Fenenbock have yet to respond to KTSM’s multiple requests for comment. EPISD said it has “no comment” because it is a personal matter, however, a spokesperson said they will continue sending our questions to the superintendent.
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