North East ISD Board Censures Trustee Treviño for the Second Time

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Scott Ball / Rivard Report

NEISD board trustee Joseph Trevino (D3) has been censured for a second time in a unanimous vote by the remaining members of the board.

It’s been less than four months since the North East Independent School District trustees publicly slapped the wrist of board member Joseph Treviño for violating board policy, but on Tuesday morning, board members again scolded him, this time for sharing confidential information discussed in closed session, missing board meetings, and sharing a post on social media that included a racial slur.

The six trustees voted to extend Treviño’s ban from campuses and district events through the rest of his term, which is slated to end in May 2022.

The NEISD board appeared divided from the outset of the Tuesday morning’s meeting where trustees planned to discuss a possible second censure of Treviño.

The six trustees who previously voted to censure Treviño and ban him from campuses and district events in late May stood behind the dais to call the meeting to order as Treviño sat next to his attorney in the audience. Soon, all seven went behind closed doors to discuss the matter in closed session.

After just a few minutes, yelling could be heard as Treviño burst into the board room, emotional and shouting about accusations made against him. He sat, cradling his head in his hands, proclaiming, “It hurts.”

Treviño’s attorney Martin Golando gave him a pep talk, advising him to not talk about what was just discussed behind closed doors. Treviño returned into closed session.

A few minutes later, Treviño came back into the board room alone. The six other trustees re-entered the board room and took their seats 20 minutes later.

Treviño denied he did anything wrong but said he respected the board’s decision and would continue the appeal of his first censure with the Texas Education Agency.

“I stay away, I don’t communicate with nobody, I don’t do anything with nobody,” Treviño said. “I just don’t understand where any of this came from but it is clear that the decision was made that I’m guilty, period.”

The rest of the board members each read statements Tuesday morning excoriating Treviño’s behavior.

“Your conduct continues to show that you either don’t understand the policies, operating procedures, and law, or you don’t care what the policies and law are, you’re going to do what you want to do,” Board President Shannon Grona said.

Grona detailed one of the reasons trustees wanted to censure Treviño a second time — the board believes he shared confidential information discussed in a closed session related to naming Interim Superintendent Sean Maika as the lone finalist for the permanent position.

Comments appeared on a Sept. 3 San Antonio Express-News article that suggested the commenter knew confidential information from an executive session. All other trustees denied sharing such information, leading Grona to believe Treviño leaked the information.

Grona said sharing this kind of information breaks the law. Board attorney Rick Lopez told the Rivard Report he would look into the legal implications of this allegation and report back to the board on what could be done. The board doesn’t have plans to report this allegation to law enforcement, he added.

Grona said she would like to look into excluding Treviño from executive sessions. 

Trustee Terri Williams detailed another concern: Treviño shared a post on Facebook that included a racial slur.

“I have no words for why you would put something like that [or] re-share it,” Williams said. “It is very offensive to me, being the lone African American on this board. We don’t use that language in my household, my boys don’t.”

Treviño responded by saying that he understood the language was offensive, but “those were not my words.”

Treviño was appointed to his seat on the board in September 2017 and ran unopposed in May 2018 to represent NEISD’s District 3, which covers the southwestern part of the district and includes LEE High School. He previously served as the Parent Teacher Association president for Colonial Hills Elementary School.

In late May, NEISD trustees voted together to scold Treviño and ban him from attending district events and visiting campuses.

At the time, Board President Grona said Treviño violated board policy by directing staff or attempting to get special treatment because of his elected office.

Treviño has since denied the claims and appealed his ban. The appeals process took him before his colleagues on the board and they declined to overturn their previous vote.

Since Treviño’s colleagues banned him from district events and campuses, his attendance dropped significantly at scheduled board meetings.

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