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EXCLUSIVE: State investigators recommend taking over local school board

SBG San Antonio

A bombshell development involving a San Antonio school district: the Texas Education Agency is recommending Harlandale ISD Board of Trustees be dissolved and taken over by the state.

The News 4 Trouble Shooters working in partnership with the non-profit Investigative Network, obtained the report by TEA investigators. It calls the board dysfunctional and possibly corrupt. It also recommends it be taken over by a Conservator and Board of Managers.

After years of mismanaged construction projects, cost overruns and complaints from residents the Texas Education Agency began investigating the Harlandale school district last year.

"The money's being misdirected for their own little pet projects in the district and not in the interest of the children," said Gina Castaneda, a former member of the district’s bond oversight committee who filed one of the complaints with TEA.

The state's preliminary report from that investigation hasn't been made public, but the Trouble Shooters have learned it recommends a list of sanctions: "Lower the accreditation of HISD, install a TEA Conservator and appoint a Board of Managers to replace the existing Board of Trustees..."

Brian Colister of the non-profit "Investigative Network" obtained a copy of the report.

"They found that there was a more than cozy relationship between certain board members and an outside contractor, and that the outside contractor was doing favors, giving gifts, doing things to get those board members in their pocket," Colister said.

The report does not identify board members by name, but it instructs the district to refer the case to law enforcement for possible criminal prosecution.

It also cites "significant dysfunction exists among Board of Trustees in the form of distrust, infighting and bullying and biased bid ranking."

The district's law firm told News 4 SA it is too early to comment on the report. The board has called a special meeting tomorrow to come up with a response to send the state.

For information on the Investigative Network, click here.

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