The president of the American Federation of Teachers union has accused El Paso ISD’s superintendent of campaigning on behalf of a Congressional candidate at a local school.

Dori Fenenbock is running as a Democrat for the 16th Congressional District.  She is the former school board president for EPISD.

Ross Moore, president of the AFT which represents EPISD teachers and staff, made the accusation on the union’s Facebook page.

Moore wrote that he, EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera and others met at Dowell Elementary School on Sept. 11, 2017 to discuss AFL-CIO apprenticeship programs for EPISD.

“Ray McMurrey (Texas AFt Secretary Treasurer) began the meeting by discussed (sic) with Mr. Cabrera the importance of El Paso ISD to the Texas AFT,” Moore wrote.”Mr. Cabrera then brought up the name Dori Fenenbock specifically.”

Moore continued, ” … he lobbied for her and provided the strengths she had as a candidate, and why we should support her. He stated that she would “be good for us and understood our issues.’ After that, we returned to the issue of apprenticeships and partnering with EPISD.’

KTSM reached McMurrey in Austin, Texas via telephone.

“He specifically brought up the name Dori Fenenbock, and that she had been on the school board and really understood our issues and that somehow would be advantageous for us to get Dori Fenenbock elected to Congress,’ McMurrey said. “That wasn’t the purpose of the meeting. That was where he led us. I do feel like that it crossed some boundaries because we were on school district property, on school time.”

Cabrera, in a written statement to KTSM, vehemently denied the description of the meeting. 

I have never campaigned for any candidate in my official capacity as superintendent,” Cabrera wrote. “This is a deplorable attempt on the part of AFT to intimidate my administration and erode trust in our community. Tactics like this are not productive and derail the mission we should all have in common — ensuring (sic) the success of our students and employees.”

Cabrera said the timing of the accusation is questionable since Moore claims the meeting took place in Sept. 2017 but released his Facebook post as early voting got underway last week.

“Moore should focus on supporting the district not campaigning and creating conflict and chaos,” Cabrera wrote. 

Moore said Fenenbock falsely claimed in Oct. 2017 that the AFT endorsed her when it had not. Weeks later, the union backed one of Fenenbock’s opponents, former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar. Meantime, Fenenbock said she did not actively seek the AFT stamp of approval after a leaked union email showed Moore calling on AFT members to “turn EPISD employees against” Fenenbock and Cabrera over the pair’s openness to charter school.

“I’m saddened and ashamed and I think we should all be embarrassed by the tactics, by the leadership of AFT to undermine the progress that we’ve made at EPISD for what I believe is purely political reasons,” Fenenbock told KTSM last Fall. “We’re gonna go directly to the teachers, themselves, and earn their support.”

 

 

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