By JACOB LOPEZ
RIO HONDO – According to a Sept. 20 Facebook post by a Rio Hondo ISD Board member, accusations brought against the school district’s alleged violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act are “baseless.”
The district is accused of holding a meeting in January [Editor’s Note: the Facebook post by the aforementioned Board member reports the meeting occurring in February], but did not inform the public in advance.
The Texas Open Meetings Act requires governing agencies such as school districts and municipalities to post a public notice advertising meetings 72 hours in advance.
RHISD Board member Jessica Gonzales posted the following on Facebook Wednesday after having fielded “numerous calls from concerned citizens”:
“As some of you may have heard on the news media, there is an allegation that we RHISD board members had a meeting on February 17, 2014 in violation of the open meetings act (what is being alleged is that the school district did not post the notice that is required by law to have a school board meeting).”
Gonzales further stated, “I want to be clear and there exist no doubt in your mind that these allegations are not true and are baseless, notice for this meeting was posted at central office and at the post office, but it was not posted on the school district website. According to the State of Texas Attorney General, so long as the notice was posted at central office and at the post office it was enough to satisfy the public notice requirement to have a school board meeting.”
Furthermore, Gonzales alleges in her post that the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office will not proceed with the case.
“I have been advised by my attorney/husband that the Cameron County DAs office is not accepting this file and will not proceed with these allegations and will send the file back to Rio Hondo P.D.,” Gonzales said. “What this means is that the allegations are without any merit and that we the Rio Hondo I.S.D. school board members, and Mr. Garcia, superintendent are innocent of these accusations/allegations.”
She concluded, “If you still have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact me or Mr. Garcia at your convenience. As always, it is a pleasure and honor to continue serving as your board trustee.”
The San Benito News contacted Gonzales regarding the matter and said that, due to the legal nature of the accusations, she cannot comment further.
District Attorney Luis Saenz said in a statement provided to the News, “We received the complaint on Monday. It was reviewed on Tuesday. It will be returned for further investigation. Therefore, there is no final determination.”
RHISD Superintendent Ismael Garcia said, “Those allegations are being made by a disgruntled employee.”
“We cooperated with the investigation,” he said. Adding that, “The DA’s office informed our attorney that the district was in compliance with the physical posting of the agenda at this location, so they did not see a criminal component….”
“Our attorneys also notified us that they were informed by the DA’s office that no further action will be taken,” said Garcia.