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Monica Martinez, Associate Commissioner standards and programs at the TEA testifies via video conference at the TEA's Hearing against former Bowie High School Principal Jesus Chavez, and former Bowie Assistant Principals Anna Luisa Kell and Juan Manuel Duran.

H-P Wrap: TEA Hearing on Three Former Bowie High School Administrators Ends; Wounds Remain

The Texas Education Agency Hearings against three former Bowie High School Administrators ended on Wednesday.

Former Bowie High School principal Jesus Chavez, and assistant principals Juan Manuel Duran and Anna Luisa Kell listened to testimony and responded over the course of two weeks in an effort to keep their teaching credentials.

According to the original petition the Texas Education Agency alleges Kell, Duran and Chavez of manipulating student grades, and providing state and federal agencies with falsified records.

The scheme, which had multiple educators involved within the El Paso Independent School District, lasted from 2006 to 2013.

After two weeks of testimony from former educators and students at Bowie High School, Kell, Duran and Chavez – the dust will settle for a moment and visiting administrative law judges Pratibha Shenoy and Holly Vandrovec will deliberate and come to a decision in the next few months.

Their decision may result in the loss of credentials for these three former administrators.

Duran is still currently an assistant principal at Burges High School.

First Impressions

The testimony from Bowie High School students remains with me as does the cross examination by the attorneys representing Kell and Duran.

Questions the attorneys asked the students – David Dominguez and Perla Valenzuela in particular – regarding transcripts and documents and whether they trusted them confounded me.

Let’s back up a bit shall we? Based on the testimony Valenzuela went to Bowie High School from 2008-09 and Dominguez went from 2005 to 2009. That means it’s been 7 years and a maximum of 11 years that these students attended school.

As the attorneys were presenting their case and defending their clients – they showed the students transcripts and documents from years ago that had educational jargon and fine print.

Having covered education myself, it is quite a learning curve to learn the alphabet soup of acronyms and yet another to learn what they actually mean and what they entail. As of this day I’m still learning.

So to present these students with these records they allegedly signed – and at an age when they were in high school – forgive me for saying this – but of course they aren’t going to remember or know what these documents are.

I know I know – the attorneys were only doing their job defending their clients – and I know a final judgement is still pending. (Takes a deep breath)

But it’s clear that this, while not a criminal case, is still an emotional case.

Students and their families were affected by the actions of others – the actions of those they trusted – and some students were lucky and forged a new path for themselves and became successful. Others are still trying to pick up the pieces, and still some may have given up all together.

I believe that you should do what you love, and you should use your talents. High School is a good place to practice your talents. But what happens when you’re pulled away from the resources to help you do this? What happens when the doors are shut to you because your English is a little broken?

You seek a window. And some students found one and were able to move on; others were not so lucky and were cut by the glass on their way out or found that the window was shut too.

As former Bowie English Teacher Leticia Morales said during her testimony on Tuesday sending out student wholly unprepared:

“…that determines an entire city because we are sending our student out to our society lacking the skills necessary to succeed in college.”

Previous Coverage

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Herald-Post Reset: TEA Hearing into EPISD Cheating Scandal enters 2nd Week

About Alexandra Hinojosa

“Once journalism is in your system, it’s hard to get it out… and then you realize, it’s there to stay.” – Alex Hinojosa is a full time instructor at El Paso Community College and a former El Paso Times journalist. FULL BIO

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