Ex-school chief gets 3.5 years
By The Associated Press
Published: Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 7:38 p.m.
EL PASO — A federal judge sentenced the former superintendent of El Paso Independent School District to more than three years in prison on Friday for his participation in a conspiracy to improve the district's high-stakes test scores by removing low-performing students from classrooms.
Lorenzo Garcia's scheme to prevent hundreds of sophomores from taking the accountability tests fooled authorities into believing that academic standards had improved in his West Texas district, resulting in a boost in federal funds and personal bonuses totaling at least $56,000.
Garcia pleaded guilty to two fraud counts in June: one in the testing scandal, and another in which he misled the school board so his lover would receive a $450,000 no-bid contract to produce school materials.
On Friday, the judge sentenced him to 42 months in prison on each fraud count, to be served concurrently. Garcia was also fined $56,500, the exact amount of money he took as a bonus from the district for its success on test scores.
Court documents indicate at least six other people helped Garcia organize the testing scheme. An FBI investigation continues.
Garcia, who was hired in 2006, implemented a plan with several other administrators that allowed for the pre-testing of 10th-graders to identify those who were likely to fail the standardized tests. He had one employee photograph students crossing the border, so they could be forced out on the grounds that they were living in Mexico rather than within the school district.
The whole idea, said former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, was to make those students “disappear,” so they would not be counted among the students who were tested.
In the short term, the strategy worked. Test scores improved in most high schools, and the district's overall rating improved from “academically acceptable” in 2005 to “recognized” in 2010 — the second-highest rating possible.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Study says regular pot use affects the brain
- Probation officer of suspect in slaying of North Allegheny graduate resigns
- 150-plus birds seized at fighting venue in W.Va.
- Authorities say they have trove of evidence against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon bombing
- Subsitute for Pap smear scorned; overtreatment cited
- Court upholds EPA emissions restrictions
- Immigration activists threaten Obama, Democrats
- Casino sues gambler Phil Ivey, claiming $9.6M cheat
- New commuter rail link ready to roll in central Florida
- Bankrupt Detroit, retired cops, fire crews agree to deal that saves pensions
- At least 5 women linked to sexual torture case in St. Louis