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Trustees at South San ISD petition two members’ removal for ‘incompetency,’ ‘official misconduct’

Trustees at South San ISD petition two members’ removal for ‘incompetency,’ ‘official misconduct’ - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The South San ISD Board of Trustees sought to remove two district trustees for allegations of "incompetency and official misconduct" during a Sept. 19 meeting. Photo by Amber Esparza

The board of trustees at South San Antonio Independent School District petitioned to have two of its members removed for “incompetency and official misconduct” during the board’s monthly meeting Sept 19.

South San ISD, home to one of the top five feeder high schools for Texas A&M University-San Antonio, is a member district of the ASPIRE program, a partnership between A&M-San Antonio and south Bexar County school districts.

The two members the board petitioned to have removed are District 1 Trustee Gina Villagomez and District 4 Trustee Shirley Ibarra, who were both absent from the meeting.

The board met in closed session for over an hour before returning to vote on a motion by board President Ernesto Arrellano Jr. to remove Villagomez and Ibarra. 

“I move that the board authorize the board president in cooperation with legal to request a removal petition be filed with the Bexar County district attorney’s office against trustees Ibarra and Villagomez for incompetency and official misconduct,” Arrellano said.

The motion follows procedures established in Texas Local Government Code Chapter 87.

The board had four members present, the minimum to have a quorum, and they unanimously approved the motion.

“I was disappointed … I just don’t understand why they did that,” Ibarra said in a phone interview on Sept. 29. “I’ve never had any misconduct, and as for the incompetency, I don’t know what they’re referring to.”

Gina Villagomez, District 1 Trustee at South San Antonio Independent School District. Photo retrieved from South San ISD website

In a separate Sept. 29 phone interview, Villagomez described the board’s allegations of incompetency and misconduct as “bogus” and suggested the board is primarily targeting Ibarra with the motion.

“I’m already out,” Villagomez said of her own two-year term, which ends this year, “so you know who they’re going at, they’re going at Ms. Ibarra.”

Arrellano referred The Mesquite’s interview request to the district’s communications office. The office did not respond before deadline.

The trustee positions for Districts 1 and 4 were already set to be filled in the upcoming November election. 

Villagomez is not running for reelection in District 1. Her position will be filled by either Greg Flores or Manuel R. Lopez pending the results of the November election. 

Ibarra is running unopposed for reelection in District 4 and said she does not plan to drop out despite the board’s action.  

Villagomez has been absent from the last three regular meetings and three additional special meetings. Ibarra attended the Aug. 22 regular meeting but has been absent from the others.

“I feel that they just want to put out that I don’t show up, and don’t show the reasons I haven’t shown up … I’ve always communicated with the superintendent and board president why I’m not able to make it,” Ibarra said. 

Ibarra said she has had multiple deaths in the family, and has been struggling with mental health as a result.

“I’m still dealing with my depression, and that’s why I’ve been really pushing hard with mental health for our students and our teachers because I know what that feels like,” Ibarra said.

According to Ibarra, trustees no longer have the option of attending virtually.

The South San ISD and its board of trustees have a history of controversy and conflict, according to local news reports. 

Shirley Ibarra, District 4 Trustee at South San Antonio Independent School District. Photo retrieved from South San ISD website

The district has had eight superintendents since 2011. Its newest superintendent, Henry Yzaguirre, took the reins after Marc Puig resigned amid an investigation into a conversation between Puig and Arrellano where it appeared Puig suggested he hire Arrellano’s brother.

In late July, there was controversy surrounding the appointment of replacements for trustees Connie Prado and Gilbert Rodriguez.

Due to the tumultuous past of the South San ISD board, the Texas Education Agency appointed a monitor in September of 2021 to watch the board and file regular reports to the agency.

In a second motion following closed session at the Sept. 19 meeting, Arrellano proposed the board, “direct legal counsel to file a vigorous rebuttal to the TEA special investigation preliminary report.” The motion passed unanimously. 

South San ISD’s board meetings are typically held on the third Wednesday of the month, according to the district’s website, but the September meeting was moved to Monday, Sept. 19.  Mesquite reporters, who were not able to attend Monday night, watched a recording of the meeting on the website.

Dr. Stephen Taraszewski, A&M-San Antonio’s director of institutional research and analytics, told The Mesquite that South San Antonio High School and Travis Early College High School are tied at fourth among the top 5 feeder schools for A&M-San Antonio. 

The university welcomed 27 South San graduates as first time in college (FTIC) students in fall 2022. 

Chemeckia Caddell contributed to this story.

About the Author

Graham Hotard
Managing Editor
Graham Hotard is a communication junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He transferred after receiving an associate degree from San Antonio College and is a full-time student. He is an avid fan of all things science fiction and fantasy. In his free time he loves to listen to audio books, play video games, watch football and spend time with his dog Luna. He plans to pursue a career in writing after graduating.

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