By HOMER HERNANDEZ & RAY QUIROGA
In a rare afternoon meeting last week Friday, the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District (SBCISD) Board of Trustees convened for a special meeting that was highlighted by a nearly two-hour, closed-door session to discuss the Superintendent of Schools, Theresa Servellon’s duties, responsibilities, and her contract, as per the meeting’s agenda.
Following executive session, the board members gathered in open session and voted 4-3 in favor of placing Servellon on paid leave. This decision was made days shy of one year after Servellon was hired by the district under a different board majority.
The members who voted in favor of placing Servellon on paid leave were board president Orlando “Papas” Lopez, Rudy Corona, Ariel Cruz-Vela, and Alex Reyna. Trustees Oscar Medrano, Mario Silva, and Frutoso Gomez casted dissenting votes.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Julian Rios, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Lopez during this past spring’s political season, highlighted the lack of consistency in the leadership at San Benito High School over the past five years, emphasizing that students have a sense that no one is effectively in charge. He called for putting aside politics and prioritizing the needs of the children in the district.
On social media, Luis De la Fuente shared his opinion, posting, “All this means is that she will take some paid vacation and eventually, if let go, will get the remainder of her contract paid to resign; a win, win for another superintendent, and a major cost for the citizens of San Benito, money that could be used to figure out what it’s going to take to complete the aquatic center and whatnot. How many superintendents have already been paid off to leave San Benito after Mr. (Antonio) Limon?”
But not everyone lambasted the majority’s decision. Micky Rodriguez simply posted, “Good,” upon reading the news of Servellon being placed on leave. Raymond Claudio was elated to read of Servellon’s status. “She would’ve made the headlines if it wasn’t a conflict of interest for my momma to speak on all the things she did to me,” he posted on Facebook, “Lol, every dog has their day. I’m glad she’s on her way out of the district as my children grow with SBCISD.”
Servellon was not present at Friday’s meeting, but sources privy to the close-door conversations told the NEWS that the motivations to sideline Servellon were purely political in nature.
“La politica (politics),” one source said as the cause of the board’s action, adding that, “They don’t have anything on her.” Still, multiple sources indicated that the board’s majority faction felt it had various reasons to place Servellon on leave – reasons which may have questioned her hiring practices, administrative decision making and involved personality conflicts, as well as decisions dating back to the previous majority, involving the ongoing construction efforts of district facilities stemming from the $40M bond. Multiple sources also confirmed that Servellon filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) against the body or a certain faction of the body. The NEWS has since filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the complaint.
Want the story in its entirety? Pick up a copy of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our e-Edition by clicking HERE!