TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Ex-school chief gets 3.5 years

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Alaska-bound, Obama makes waves by renaming Mount McKinley
  2. Postal Service falls short of slower mail delivery standards
  3. New Orleans slow to heal 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
  4. Pope Francis’ lack of familiarity with United States unusual
  5. CDC lauds schools for better nutrition
  6. University of Texas removes statue of Confederate President Davis
  7. Memorial service for slain Virginia journalists brings call for action
  8. Motive in ambush of Houston area deputy remains unknown
  9. Obama inches closer to veto-proof support for Iran nuclear deal
  10. Erika wanes as Tropical Storm Fred forms in Atlantic
  11. Supreme Court can resolve Kentucky county clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays