Top Cop Alleges Dirty Politics at School

     McALLEN, Texas (CN) — A Texas school district fired its longtime police chief for reporting that school officials lied about a student’s “improper relationship” with a teacher they targeted for political payback, the chief claims in court.
     Noe Flores says he had a spotless record in more than 10 years as Roma Independent School District’s police chief and had a good relationship with its students.
     Roma ISD has more than 6,000 students in its 10 campuses in Starr County on the Mexican border.
     Seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages, Flores sued the district, school board president Leticia Garza-Galvan, the superintendent and deputy superintendent on May 25 in Federal Court.
     “In November of 2015, plaintiff was called to investigate an allegation of an improper student-teacher relationship,” Flores says in the complaint.
     “At the inception, plaintiff noted a peculiar facet of this matter in that even prior to plaintiff’s involvement, Roma ISD administrators had already taken statements from the student, reprimanded the teacher and had reported the matter to Texas Education Agency.”
     Flores says state law mandates that law enforcement lead such investigations, not school officials.
     “The TEA immediately suspended the teacher’s license pending the investigation,” Flores say in the complaint, which does not divulge the teacher’s name.
     Flores says he questioned the student and found discrepancies between the teen’s report and the administrators’.
     Flores says the student told him that Deputy Superintendent Luis E. Garza and Roma High School principal Marissa Belmontes pressured him into lying about his relationship with the teacher.
     Belmontes is not a defendant.
     “The allegations made against the teacher were politically motivated based on opposition to defendant Leticia Garza-Galvan’s election as Roma ISD School Board President,” Flores says in the complaint.
     Flores says he notified the Starr County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Education Agency, which reinstated the teacher’s license. He says that the day after he talked to the Texas Education Agency, Garza “berated” him, asking him why looked into the student’s story when the student had already confessed.
     Superintendent Carlos Guzman took him off the investigation on Jan. 20, Flores says.
     “On Feb. 12, 2016 plaintiff submitted a complaint to the TEA regarding the facts surrounding the student-teacher investigation and other disconcerting issues relating to the Roma ISD administration,” the lawsuit states.
     “On March 3, 2016 plaintiff was terminated by defendants as chief of police.”
     Flores says he filed a grievance that Roma ISD’s board of trustees refused to consider.
     He seeks punitive damages for wrongful termination and violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Texas Education Code.
     He is represented by Mauro Ruiz in McAllen.
     Superintendent Guzman defended the district in a statement.
     “The decision to terminate Mr. Flores arose solely from continuing and uncorrected problems with Mr. Flores’ performance of his job duties,” Guzman said. “Accordingly, the district’s actions with respect to this former employee were in all things justified and lawful. Regardless, Mr. Flores has filed a lawsuit in federal court that amounts to nothing more than an attempt to take valuable public dollars from a school district.”

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