BISD trustee again in court; Hearing closed to the public

Sylvia Atkinson

BY ERIN SHERIDAN AND GARY LONG, Staff Writers

BISD vice president Sylvia Atkinson appeared in federal court in Brownsville Monday afternoon, where she attended a meeting in the court’s chambers that was closed to the public.

Atkinson was accompanied by her attorney Noe Garza. Additionally, Brownsville Independent School District attorney Baltazar Salazar was present in the courtroom for the anticipated proceedings, which were held unannounced and behind closed doors as attendees waited in the courtroom.

Atkinson left the courthouse with a relative before the press was notified that the hearing had already taken place.

The BISD trustee and executive director of High School Programs and Community Outreach at Texas Southmost College was released on a $50,000 bond agreement following an arraignment hearing held last week.

The court appearance was not listed on the public docket and came after both a sealed event and sealed order were entered into the court records late last week.

On Friday, Atkinson was pictured in a photo posted on BISD’s Facebook page taken at an early morning groundbreaking ceremony held for the Hanna Early College High School Gymnasium.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan specified during Atkinson’s arraignment that she was to refrain from contact with any co-defendants and victims related to the eight-count indictment brought against her featuring felony bribery charges and violations of the Travel Act.

A scheduling order was issued after the case was transferred to U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr., who scheduled jury selection for Feb. 10, 2020 should the case go to trial.

Judge Morgan’s case manager told The Brownsville Herald that she was unable to comment on Monday’s meeting.

Atkinson’s attorneys Noe Garza and Dale Robertson did not respond to requests for comment.

BISD said in a statement that the school district “is aware of the allegation made against a current board member. The district will make itself available to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in any investigations. Brownsville ISD assures the community that our number one priority will continue to be our students and their academic excellence. The district will make no further comments on this matter.”

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com