BISD, Castro part ways

By unanimous vote Tuesday night the Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees accepted former trustee Erasmo Castro’s resignation and asked Castro to leave the meeting.

The vote officially ended Castro’s relationship with BISD. It came after a brief recess to clarify with attorney Kevin O’Hanlon, that the resignation would be effective at the time specified by Castro in his resignation letter and that there would be no holdover period until a replacement is named. The board previously approved O’Hanlon, who is well versed in school governance matters, as someone to turn to for second opinions on legal matters.

“In light of the trustee’s resignation, he should absent himself from further board deliberations,” O’Hanlon said in a text message to the board.

The board then voted 6-0 to accept Castro’s resignation and Trustee Philip Cowen, seated next to Castro, asked him to leave the meeting.

Castro submitted his resignation “effective immediately” on Friday. Board attorney Baltazar Salazar noted that Castro is “still banned from any and all BISD campuses, BISD facilities, and BISD events until further notice by the Board of Trustees.”

It the letter Castro wrote, “I am opting to deal with [a] personal situation which has unfortunately become a distraction to the amazing things happening at BISD. I have had to take a step back from serving my spiritual family because of my well publicized personal situation. It’s my hope to restore the balance that is everything to me.”

Castro referred to his arrest Sept. 2 on charges of driving while intoxicated.

Following Castro’s arrest, groups emerged that circulated petitions calling for his ouster. They complained about his DWI arrest and his practice of visiting BISD campuses unannounced, taking selfies with students and posting them to his Facebook pages.

The board first modified its rules for members visiting campuses, then censured Castro and finally outright banned him from campuses.

His DWI case remains pending. He is running for the Republican nomination to represent District 38 in the Texas House of Representatives. The district is currently represented by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville.

Tuesday night he said, “It’s over. I want it to be over.”

Before taking up the Castro matter, the board attempted to reorganize. Attempts to elect a new board president, vice president and secretary each resulted in 3-3 split votes, meaning that the current slate of officers will remain in effect.

The slate includes Minerva M. Peña as president, Sylvia P. Atkinson as vice-president and Prisci Roca Tipton as secretary.

Atkinson was indicted in early December on charges of bribery. She is accused of soliciting thousands of dollars from an undercover FBI agent posing as an employee of a Brownsville film production company. Atkinson is fighting the charges.

Late in the meeting, the board approved a policy stating that “during the pendency of Dr. Sylvia Atkinson’s federal case, the board is restricting Dr. Atkinson from all BISD activities.”