September 25, 2019 809 PM
MARFA — A Marfa public school teacher has been placed on paid leave over concerns about possible testing violations during a standardized math test in May 2019.
The school received information — including from students — that there had been “possible violations of testing protocols” during STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) testing last academic year, Marfa Independent School District stated Thursday in a news release. Superintendent Oscar Aguero reviewed the allegations, spoke with the teacher in question and “concluded that there were in fact testing violations,” the news release states.
At a special-session school board meeting on Monday morning, Aguero recommended (and the board approved) a motion to have a nonrenewal of one teacher’s contract. While the school board named that teacher, Marfa ISD could not confirm whether it was the same employee facing allegations, citing an ongoing investigation by the Texas Education Agency.
The school board also approved motions authorizing separate legal representation for the school administrators and the school board, to help not only with legal matters but with any hearings handled by the school. The votes were unanimous, with five of the seven school board members in attendance.
Most of the meeting was closed, with officials going into executive session at 8:31 a.m. and coming out at 9:09 a.m.
As the Texas Education Agency investigates, Marfa ISD says it cannot comment on the details of the matter. But in an interview with The Big Bend Sentinel, Superintendent Aguero defended the decision to place the teacher on paid leave rather than terminating her contract.
Terminating an employee may lead to legal fights, he said. That could cost the school district more money in the long run — and perhaps even worse, force some students to face depositions from hostile lawyers.
“We think our students have been through enough,” he said. “It’s difficult enough to have to say something. To go to a court and say it is totally different.”