The Sheriff is Testing Our Patience

It appears that Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez spent months studying for the mandatory state licensing exam she flunked in April--even though she has blamed her failing grade on a lack of preparation.

Robert Baker, who works as the chief of security for Richland Community College, says he helped Valdez prepare for an exam that 70 percent of all test-takers manage to pass on the first try. Unfair Park sent Baker an e-mail asking him about their arrangement. He wrote back, "I have been tutoring Sheriff Valdez since the last week in January 2006. Usually (but not always) she finds time twice a week at 5 pm for an hour and a half. Occasionally, our schedules conflicted and we did not meet. The sessions consisted of presenting the same information given to academy students but one-on-one. The material goes a lot faster but a student still has to find time to study."

Valdez took her test at the end of April. According to Baker, he and the sheriff studied for three hours a week for three months, with a few occasional exceptions. By our calculations, even accounting for the random missed session, the sheriff studied one-on-one with a tutor for at least 30 hours. And she still only scored 66.

Last week, after Unfair Park broke the news of Valdez's adventures in flunking, she and her supporters began spinning to the media that the sheriff is so busy correcting the entrenched problems at the county jail that she didn't have a chance to prepare. "It is some new material, and she didn't take the time to study for it," said Susan Hays, the former Democratic party chair, in an interview with KTVT-Channel 11. "But I can't fault her for that, because she's putting 70 to 80 hours a week down at the county, trying to fix the volume of problems that she inherited."

Valdez offered a similar explanation to The Dallas Morning News, explaning that she thought her career as a federal law enforcement official, as well as logic and common sense, would be enough to pass the test. "But when has logic and common sense worked with Texas law," she said. One would think Valdez would have studied enough to know.

We asked the sheriff to explain the discrepancy between her statements to the press and the account of her own personal tutor, but we never heard from her. Maybe she's hitting the books. Again. --Matt Pulle

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