By LOUIE DIAZ
Former San Benito CISD employee, Jack Garcia, has filed a federal lawsuit against the San Benito school district claiming the district violated his first amendment rights.
Garcia, represented by attorney Gustavo Acevedo Jr, who once represented the SBCISD, was a long-time employee of SBCISD, working for the district for 22 years. Garcia was removed from his position as the Director of the Afterschool Program on March 28, 2019, two days after his first grievance hearing with Superintendent Dr. Nate Carmen, the lawsuit stipulates.
According to the case file, Garcia alleges that due to his association with his aunt, Mary Lou Garcia, a former school board member and retired SBCISD teacher, he was targeted by the school board’s political majority. In 2018, Mary Lou Garcia was the sole vote against the selection of the bond manager for a $40 million bond project. The bond would fund the construction of the three new amenities to the school district, a multi-purpose indoor facility, a performing arts center, and a natatorium.
The case file states that on Jan. 28, 2019, Garcia purchased non-refundable Southwest airline tickets for $10,438.82 to Chicago. Later on Jan. 31, 2019, he bought plane tickets to Houston for $17,214.25. Both ticket purchase were for the district’s chess team. Both were paid using the school district credit card. An investigation was conducted by assistant superintendent Hector Madrigal and assistant superintendent Hilda Rendon into unauthorized use of the SBCISD credit card.
Garcia’s party claims that the investigation performed by SBCISD was unfair.
“This biased investigation constituted part of the board majority retaliatory scheme to slander and punish San Benito CISD school board member Mary Lou Garcia at the expense of her nephew Plaintiff Jack Garcia,” the case file reads.
On Feb. 26, 2019, Garcia filed a grievance related to the reprimand on Feb. 13, 2019. His hearing for the grievance with Superintendent Carmen was held on March 26, 2019 and was denied the following day. Garcia sought redress for his grievance after his grievance was denied, but was terminated from his position two days after the hearing and was not able to seek redress.
According to the case file, the Garcia’s legal team is arguing that SBCISD violated his first amendment rights for political retaliation and retaliation for seeking redress of grievances.
“This has been a political witch hunt as far as I’m concerned,” said Garcia. “My livelihood has been affected. Win or lose, I’m in it for the long haul to fight to clear my name and my family’s name because it has been severely dragged through the mud.”
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