After five years of federal investigation, the FBI arrested five current and former Texas educators last week for scheming to defraud the federal government. According to reports, the El Paso Independent School District teachers altered the records of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, among other things, in order to appear as though EPISD was meeting and exceeding federal standards for academic yearly progress (AYP).
Among the many charges made by the U.S. Department of Justice that, frankly, left our heads swimming, was the allegation that EPISD administrators “through intimidation and discouragement,” caused LEP students “to withdraw from school or fail to enroll in school by conducting unwarranted residency checks and through threats and coercion.” All five defendants pleaded not guilty in court Monday.
If these allegations are true, we’re looking at a racist conspiracy, emanating from the top administrators at the district and targeting low-performing, Spanish-speaking, immigrant students from Mexico, whose parents would be less likely to speak up on their behalf, as well as poor-performing African-American students.
Those arrested last week include former EPISD associate superintendent Damon Murphy, who was in charge of overseeing the lowest-performing schools at EPISD, former Austin High School (AHS) principal John Tanner, former AHS assistant principal Mark Phillip Tegmeyer, former AHS assistant principal Diane Thomas and former AHS assistant principal Nancy Love. None of the people arrested has a Spanish surname, interesting considering their alleged scheme centered on the manipulation of the academic careers of LEP students, many of whom transferred in from Mexico. Of course, the EPISD superintendent of schools who was convicted in 2012 as part of the same conspiracy is Latino. More on him later, but, first, a quote from the Department of Justice press release about last week’s arrests: