Edgewood ISD Chief Placed on Paid Leave, Interim Replacement Named

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Edgewood Independent School District Superintendent Emilio Castro.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Emilio Castro (center) was selected as superintendent of Edgewood ISD in November 2016.

Edgewood Independent School District placed Superintendent Emilio Castro on paid leave Friday pending an investigation into harassment allegations lodged against him by a district employee. Managers also named the district’s chief academic officer, Phillip Chavez, as Castro’s interim replacement.

Chavez previously sat in for Castro at an earlier board meeting on Tuesday, as well as during the meeting Friday before the managers entered executive session.

Chavez earned his Superintendent Certificate through the University of Texas at San Antonio and has served as the interim superintendent in Southside ISD. He said he will collaborate with his “very strong team” to prepare students for upcoming state exams.

“In no way will this affect our students’ ability to be successful moving forward,” Chavez said.

The district also hired the Houston-based law firm Rogers Morris & Grover to execute a third-party investigation into the matter. (The firm also has an office in Austin.)

Chavez didn’t have a clear idea on the time or cost of the investigation.

Chief Academic Officer Phillip Chavez was named Emilio Castro’s interim replacement.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Chief Academic Officer Phillip Chavez was named Emilio Castro’s interim replacement.

Castro was not in attendance at either the Tuesday or Friday meeting.

The current board of managers took over the district on May 24, 2016, appointed by the Texas Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath. This action effectively overrode the authority of Edgewood ISD’s elected board of trustees. Although they no longer govern the district, many of those trustees still take an interest in the district’s operations.

One of those, Joe Guerra, said he believes the managers made the correct decision to hire a third-party firm to investigate the allegations against Castro.

“They did what they needed to do,” Guerra said, adding that he hopes the investigation is done in an expedient manner. “We don’t need turmoil.”

Last Friday, Feb. 16, Gloria Collins, a human resources specialist with Edgewood ISD, filed a complaint with the district’s human resources department and the San Antonio Police Department, listing three alleged instances in which Castro inappropriately initiated physical contact.

The third, which allegedly occurred Feb. 16, took place in a one-on-one conversation between Collins and Castro. According to Collins’ report, Castro squeezed Collins’ knee, and then ran his hand down her leg, past her calf.

The report prompted the district to launch an investigation into the allegations.

Sen. José Mendéndez (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) were both present at Friday night’s meeting as observers.

Mendéndez said it was important for the board of managers to appoint independent legal counsel to investigate the claims so that they avoid any conflicts of interest.

“I feel much better that it is a firm … that’s not going to be trying to make any friends in the future,” Menéndez told the Rivard Report. “I think at the end of the day, there is the reality of the situation and there is also the perception. You want the perception in the community with teachers and parents that the truth came out and was investigated.”

Minjarez agreed, saying a third-party investigation is essential to give all parties due process.

Despite that, some expressed concerns about the costs of hiring an outside firm – a potentially costly maneuver for a district that already faces financial woes.

Edgewood ISD serves a shrinking student enrollment that is roughly 92 percent economically disadvantaged.

Menéndez said the cost of the investigation is a concern for him, as well.

“It is one of those things where you want to think in retrospect that if there is a guilty finding, that the cost of the investigation would be either shared or carried or covered by the guilty party,” he said.  “I don’t think the constituents or taxpayers should be paying for the investigation.”


4 thoughts on “Edgewood ISD Chief Placed on Paid Leave, Interim Replacement Named

  1. Philip Chavez is the best choice for EISD Superintendent! He was turning the district around last year. Let him take the reins. Teachers and administrators have missed his leadership!

  2. You say roughly 92 percent economically disadvantaged how does the district justify spending $271,595 ytd on Travel and $107,538 ytd on Food Vendors . Something is very wrong when this kind of spending is being done. Paying for an investigation shouldn’t be a problem. Joe Guerra is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing that didn’t do any good for the district. We hope Mr. Chavez can do good in the district and be strong and do the right thing by the Students in Edgewood.

  3. To #MeToo: Please try to understand how public school district financial matters work before publishing your comments. Making reactive claims about this doesn’t help anyone.

  4. I may not know how everything works but I do know that when contract employees are paid for not showing up, When there is no accountability, when employees clock in for each other, when people are hired without abilities to do their job and not required to get that training, when the leader of a department has no integrity, then this is not a district to be proud to be a part of.

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