By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
Special to the NEWS
Although former after school program director Jack Garcia has been seeking to bring his Level III Grievance to the public, the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District is scheduling a special board meeting on Thursday (Aug. 29) to discuss the issue behind closed doors.
Garcia lost his job after Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman alleged that Garcia, without proper authorization, purchased $17,000 for group-rate flight tickets to take more than 50 students to a chess competition in Houston last March.
Tony Conners, Garcia’s lawyer, said he has requested a public hearing on the matter.
“Let’s see what they do,” Conners said when asked whether the board has replied to his request. “I don’t know what they are going to say. Probably they are going to say no.”
Conners said the school board is unpredictable.
“I’m going to ask to be open to clear his (Garcia’s) name,” he said.
In case they refuse, Conners said after the closed session he will let the media know what happened.
In case they again refuse to reinstate Garcia, Conners said the next step is to go to court.
Conners said Garcia has the option to file a lawsuit.
“Right now he’s been trying to solve it through the grievance process,” he said. “The litigation option is always open.”
In some cases or claims like Garcia’s, Conners said they have to go through the grievance process.
“Others you are not required to,” he said.
In addition to the executive closed session, the only other item on the agenda is discussion and consideration of revision to policy BDAA (Local).
The item does not specifically say what is on the agenda distributed to the public, but some people say it might be a change to the policy in which board reorganization has to be done in May or when a member resigns.
Earlier this month during a regular board meeting, two members tried to reorganize the board after news arose of SBCISD School Board President Michael A. Vargas’ arrest for an alleged charge of driving while intoxicated in Harlingen in the early hours of July 5.
The News has a memo of proposed revisions, including the selection of officers, that states, “the board shall elect officers annually at the regular May board meeting, and shall only reorganize at any other time if a board officer resigns from office or is otherwise no longer a trustee.”
Board member Angel Mendez, one of two members who tried to oust Vargas at the last board meeting, said it is unfortunate that they are trying to change the policy of the school district.
“The reality of it, what it’s telling you, is that ‘if the policy doesn’t agree with me then I’m going to change it (policy) so it can agree with me’,” Mendez said. “This is Michael’s (Vargas’) tactic. It’s poor taste of a political tactic.”
With those intentions, Mendez said Vargas is trying to undermine the community and undermine the process.
“It benefits him, nothing else,” Mendez said.
The News sent an email to SBCISD Public Relations Director Isabel Gonzalez regarding comment on the issue but has yet to respond to the inquiry.