SANTA ROSA — Superintendent Angela Gonzalez is blowing the whistle on some school board members who she claims tried to stop her from reporting illegal activity to law enforcement.
Since she took the job in March, Gonzalez states she reported the cases of two coaches allegedly having sexual relationships with students, according to the complaint filed with the school district May 28.
Gonzalez claims the cases involving the coaches, along with other incidents of “misconduct,” had not been properly reported for as long as a year.
Last month, the Cameron County District Attorney’s investigation into allegations leading to the indictments of coaches Josue Arnoldo Cepeda, 35, and Isaac Ruben Flores, 24, accused of having sexual relationships with students.
In her complaint, Gonzalez accuses board President Raul Garza, Vice President Arnulfo Castañeda and Secretary Cynthia Saldivar of retaliating against her, a violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act.
“I am being harmed professionally and personally by this board misconduct in that I am being attacked and interfered with as to my duties and authority as superintendent in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act and applicable board policies, including the board’s code of ethics,” she wrote.
Gonzalez wants the board to consider her complaint at an upcoming meeting.
When she started her job March 18, she found out about the school district was under investigation.
“On the first day, I learned that there was an ongoing investigation by local law enforcement over alleged inappropriate relationships between certain coaches and students as well as other related misconduct,” she states in her complaint.
“Also, these known allegations and some underlying proof had not been properly reported,” she added, referring to agencies such as the Texas Education Agency, the State Board for Education Certification and Child Protective Services.
About two weeks later, some board members began trying to “undermine my efforts,” she stated.
On May 13, she states, board members voted to reprimand her.
However, she has not received notice of the grounds for her reprimand, she states.
During a special board meeting May 17, some board members “unfairly criticized me for making reports of serious misconduct as required by law.”
Then on May 28, Garza, Castañeda and Saldivar voted to launch an investigation to her “alleged misconduct.”
However, the three were outvoted.
“I am being targeted for retaliation for making earlier reports of legal violations,” she wrote. “I am reasonably concerned that I may be placed on administrative leave or otherwise isolated or prevented from doing my job as superintendent (as a result of) unwarranted or retaliatory interference from certain school board members.”
On May 22, a Cameron County grand jury indicted the coaches on charges stemming from allegations of sexual relationships with students.
Now, Victoria Cisneros, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, confirmed local, state and federal investigators are trying to identify individuals involved in those alleged incidents or whether they were covered up.
The allegations had gone about a year without being reported.
According to a District Attorney’s Office, school district officials failed to respond to reports that Cepeda and Flores were allegedly having relationships with students in May 2018.
In February, the District Attorney’s Office launched its investigation after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force received telephone tips regarding allegations Cepeda and Flores were having improper relationships with students, Cisneros stated.
Then on May 22, a Cameron County grand jury indicted Cepeda and Flores and Magistrate Judge Louis Sorola ordered each man held on $525,000 bail, setting bail at $75,000 per count.
Sorola charged Cepeda with one count of improper relationship and six counts of sexual assault, all second-degree felonies.
Meanwhile, Flores was charged with one count of improper relationship, two counts of sexual assault and four counts of delivery of a controlled substance or marijuana.
All charges are second-degree felonies carrying as much as two to 22 years in state prison.
Cepeda and Flores are being held in the Cameron County jail