TEA takes over La Joya ISD

This one’s a little different.

The Texas Education Agency removed La Joya Independent School District’s democratically-elected school board and appointed a new superintendent after investigating the district’s previous leadership for allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest, the agency said Thursday.

The TEA said it named seven Hidalgo County residents to replace the previous school board and temporarily serve as a “board of managers” for La Joya ISD, a district of about 24,000 students in the Rio Grande Valley.

The agency also appointed Marcey Sorensen as the new superintendent. While the TEA was only required to change the district’s school board, the agency said it decided to place a new superintendent to ensure productive leadership moving forward.

The new board starts immediately. The TEA commissioner decides how long the board is in place.

A TEA investigation found last year that the school board spent $38 million installing LED lights on school campuses, but it turned out the contract to install those lights was part of a criminal conspiracy that involved millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

Several trustees and administrators pleaded guilty last year to federal charges that included theft, bribery, money laundering, extortion and wire fraud.

As the story notes, the same law that allowed for the HISD takeover was the fulcrum for this takeover as well. It’s the second one the TEA has done so far. I can’t say I’m in favor of the TEA doing much of anything these days, but stepping in under these circumstances is a lot easier to understand, and one hopes a lot easier to resolve so they can get back out. We’ll see how it goes.

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