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Goliad ISD school board member claims racial discrimination at root of county's decision
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
Jun 02, 2013 | 3423 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOLIAD – The Goliad County Commissioners Court's 3-2 vote May 28 to terminate the county’s interlocal agreement with Goliad ISD to provide the school district a school resource officer has led to one school board member citing racial discrimination as the basis behind the decision and a county constable filing a complaint with the Texas State Attorney General’s Office.

Goliad County Judge David Bowman, Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronald Bailey and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ted Long voted to terminate the interlocal agreement effective Sept. 30. Precinct 1 Commissioner Julian Flores and Precinct 2 Commissioner Alonzo Morales voted to renew the contract.

Goliad ISD school board member Robert De La Garza said Friday that he suspects race and politics had something to do with the decision.

The current SRO, Paul San Miguel, an Hispanic, ran against Goliad County Sheriff Kirby Brumby in the November elections.

“Paul is a well-qualified officer,” said Robert De La Garza, who had San Miguel as a deputy when he served as sheriff. “When you put everything on the table, the only thing that is left is discrimination. It’s bad and shouldn’t be that way. That’s what is dividing our community. We should all be on the same team. We should all be for one thing and that is to protect our children.”

Bowman said race had nothing to do with the commissioners court’s decision.

“That’s completely unfounded in my opinion,” Bowman said. “There are a few folks, and that school board member is one of them, who want to make it a racial issue.”

Robert De La Garza has filed a lawsuit against Brumby from when he applied for the Goliad ISD school resource officer position in 209 and was not hired.

Robert De La Garza’s brother, Precinct 1 Constable Michael De La Garza, addressed the commissioners court before its decision at the May 28 meeting and implied racial discrimination was behind the county’s attempt to discontinue the contract.

“Is it because of liability issues? No,” Michael De La Garza said. “Is it because there’s a conflict in county and school schedules? No. Is it because of my inability to supervise Paul? No. Is it because of how the money is transferred from the school district to the county? No. Is it because Paul is not performing his duties as an SRO at the school district? No. Is it because of cost? No.

“So why would the court consider terminating this agreement if it’s not costing the county a dime and it’s what the school district wants? Well, it only leaves one reason on the table and if you can’t see it, then I can’t help you.”

In his complaint to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in the state attorney general’s office, Michael De La Garza claimed Bowman met with Goliad ISD school officials to influence them to not hire San Miguel as the SRO.

“As a member of this community, I find the judge’s actions regarding this matter appalling and I feel it is my duty as constable of Precinct 1 to hold Judge Bowman accountable for his actions thus far.”

San Miguel was commissioned by Constable De La Garza in February.

“The judge overstepped his boundary when he went in there and tried to interfere with the process that the constable was approved to do,” Robert De La Garza said. “The process has started to investigate this. People need to know what’s going on. People are wondering why this is going back and forth. It’s senseless.”

Bowman wouldn’t comment on the complaint filed with the state attorney general’s office.

“I don’t think that would be productive at this time,” Bowman said.

Bowman and Bailey, along with Flores and Morales, had voted for the original interlocal agreement in February. But Bowman and Bailey reversed their decisions to renew the current contract after they said they weren’t given ample time to study the original contract.

Bowman drafted a new contract, which was approved by the commissioners, and presented it to the Goliad ISD board of trustees on May 2.

The county commissioners opted not to update the current contract, but recommended revising a 2007-09 interlocal SRO agreement between the county and Goliad ISD. The revised contract would give the Goliad County Sheriff’s Office more jurisdiction over the position.

Goliad ISD school board members expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed contract at the May 2 special meeting.

Goliad ISD Superintendent Christy Paulsgrove was surprised by the county commissioners’ decision.

“I didn’t know they were going to move on this that quickly,” Paulsgrove said Friday. “Judge Bowman’s comment was that we could take our time and look at it until September. I kind of thought the new superintendent should have some input. We haven’t had a board meeting since then or a chance to discuss it further.”

Paulsgrove is retiring after this school year and Goliad High School Principal Emilio Vargas was named the lone finalist to replace her at a special meeting on May 27. Vargas won’t assume the post until June 20.

Paulsgrove said she will seek direction from school board president Bob Gayle to see what Goliad ISD will do next.

Bowman said the school district will still have plenty of time to review the revised contract and an agreement could be reached before the 2013-14 school year.

“It was not a quick decision,” Bowman said. “It gives the school district the end of September. I just want to give them ample notice that the prior agreement was going to terminate at the end of September. We have offered them another agreement that places the SRO under the supervision of the sheriff’s department. I didn’t want to wait until the last minute.

“They don’t have to make a decision on anything right now,” Bowman said. “If they think they do, they’re under the wrong impression.”

“We’re going to do something,” Robert De La Garza said. “We’re not going to sit here and let the school district go unprotected, whether it’s to create our own police department or go out to another county. That would be an additional burden for our taxpayers.”

Morales and Flores have been in favor of the interlocal agreement since it was first approved.

“This thing should have been over with a long time ago,” Morales said. “I just wish we could work together.”

Flores refused to comment when contacted by the Advance-Guard.

“We were all disappointed,” Robert De La Garza said. “The judge told us we had time to look at that second interlocal agreement. We haven’t even had an actual meeting to discuss that and he’s already pulling the plug.

“Our goal is to protect the children and the staff. We have a county government that can’t even cooperate with a school district that is willing to pay for the whole thing.”

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