Can SBCISD make board changes midstream?

Trustees mull policy on reorganization

SAN BENITO — School board President Michael Vargas might be locked into his position for a while.

Tonight, school board members will consider a proposal to limit board reorganizations to the month of May.

The proposal comes as board members Angel Mendez and Mary Lou Garcia continue to call for Vargas’ removal as president as a result of concerns stemming from his arrest last month on a drunken driving charge.

“The board shall elect officers annually at the regular May board meeting and shall only reorganize at any other time if a board officer resigns from office or is otherwise no longer a trustee,” according to a proposal on the agenda for the board’s 6 p.m. special meeting.

Yesterday, Mendez accused Vargas of pushing to change policy to suit their self interests.

“It’s a political ploy,” he said. “He’s changing policy to suit him not the district. It locks him in. Obviously, he’s trying very hard to hold on to the position. It hinders the public’s right to express themselves and does not allow due process. I hope the community speaks out on the issue.”

But Vargas said board members will discuss the proposal in an open forum.

“Mr. Mendez is entitled to his opinion. The referenced item is not a foregone conclusion and will be up for discussion and debate, which will take place in an open board meeting — not through claims and allegations to the media. But that is typical of Mr. Mendez,” Vargas stated. “It would be nice if Mr. Mendez would be contacting the media to advocate and promote the many accomplishments of our district instead of using the media for his political purposes, which ultimately hurts our district.”

Last week, the board’s majority voted to keep Vargas as president, Orlando Lopez as vice president and Janie Silva as secretary.

The vote came after Mendez and Garcia called for the board’s reorganization as part of a push to remove Vargas as president.

“We were going to put it on the agenda again so we could discuss the issue and perhaps conduct reorganization,” Mendez said. “Policy allows us to do that at any time. It allows any board member to challenge his position at any time.”

Mendez said he and Garcia are pushing to remove Vargas as president and official district spokesman because his arrest raises concerns about the board’s integrity, sending students the wrong message.

Yesterday, Rosalinda Garcia, a resident, and other residents were mounting opposition against the proposal.

“It goes to how much they want to suppress our voice with the change of policy,” she said. “It’s an insult to the community that they can do whatever they want.”

Rosalinda Garcia said she also would like for Vargas to be replaced as president.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re accepting unacceptable behavior,” she said. “He’s the spokesman for the whole board — for the district. He sets the tone.”

At about 2 a.m. July 5, a Harlingen police officer found Vargas, 32, sleeping behind the wheel of his car outside a Taco Bell restaurant at 1518 N. Ed Carey Drive, a police report states.

According to the report, the officer arrested Vargas after he refused to perform a field sobriety test.

Later that day, Vargas was released from the city jail after posting $2,000 bail.

Vargas, who was elected to the school board’s Place 1 seat in May 2015, has served as the board’s president since May 2017.

Last year, he won re-election to the term expiring in 2021.