Former DISD Administrator Pleads Guilty to Test Fraud in El Paso

Back in 2004, just after Superintendent Mike Moses leaped from DISD with his golden parachute, Lorenzo Garcia, the district's chief of instructional services, was a hair's breadth away from becoming interim superintendent. Maybe not a hair's breadth, since the board of trustees voted down his nomination 7 to 1, but he was considered.

The DMN paraphrased trustee Joe May, Garcia's lone supporter, as saying "Garcia represents the aspirations of immigrants and would be a good role model for Hispanic children in the district."

Garcia ended up doing his role modeling instead for the children in El Paso where, on Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud for manipulating TAKS scores in order to secure more federal funding and awarding a $450,000, no-bid contract to one of his lovers during his time as superintendent of El Paso ISD, as reported by the El Paso Times and, in passing the DMN.

From the article:

According to García's plea, he admitted that in order to achieve his contractual performance-based bonuses, he caused "material, fraudulent misrepresentations" of the district's Federal Adequate Yearly Progress reports to be submitted to the Texas Education Agency and the U.S. Department of Education in order to make it look as though the district was meeting and exceeding standards.

He also admitted to manipulating district data by implementing a reclassification program designed to evade 10th-grade testing and accountability requirements during the 2006-07 school year by directing others to reclassify student grade levels using partial course credits. He did so by requiring that all Mexican transfer students be placed in the ninth grade even if they had sufficient credits for the 10th grade, changing passing grades to failing grades to prevent students from taking the 10th-grade TAKS test, and implementing course credit recovery programs to help intentionally held-back students catch up before graduation.

He also admitted to steering a no-bid contract to Infinity Resources, a firm owned by former lover Tracy Rose.

So, despite a past littered with terrible personnel choices, the DISD board made the right call. Far as I can tell, Larry Groppel, whom the board picked over Garcia for the interim slot, has never been the subject of a federal investigation.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson