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EPISD's external auditor falling under scrutiny

By Jerry Najera, Multimedia Journalist
Published On: Apr 01 2013 05:16:20 AM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 06:56:36 PM CST

The recent removal of four principals by EPISD officials stemming from the Weaver firm audits are being questioned.

El PASO, Texas -

Last year, an external auditor for the district was brought in to figure out how the cheating scheme survived. The Austin-based Weaver firm was contracted to do the investigation. Now the firm's the one being scrutinized.

"Removal of these principles has been really a cause for chaos and alarm on the campuses," said County Judge Veronica Escobar. She is echoing what parents teachers and students have been protesting for the past few days.

"I think the fundamental cause of concern is that, that audit and that firm is what is propelling this latest activity by EPISD and there's a lot of us that don't have a lot of faith in that firm because of the circumstances surrounding it," said Escobar.

And there are several circumstances Escobar's talking about. One that caught her attention early in the hiring process of the Weaver firm was the discovery that out of the nearly 600 vendors contacted for the forensic auditing job, Weaver was the only bidder. Escobar believes the district should have rebidd the contract, another issue, "What I've heard back from schools that have been interviewed is that the firm actually was uninterested in gathering the data and the documents that people inside the schools were trying to give them and that tells me if that,s true, that's a faulty audit," said Escobar.

Escobar also said the Weaver firm came with a hefty price tag.

"They won the bid with one price and ended up charging a significantly higher price," said Escobar.

What started off as a half a million dollar audit for Bowie High school almost doubled when EPISD chose to have a wider scale audit throughout the district.

"That taxpayers have paid for with our tax dollars $800,000, almost a million dollars for this audit," said Escobar.

But what troubles Escobar the most, is the personnel changes that have stemmed from the investigation.

"The accused have not been allowed to see the document that is going to be used as evidence that they persued bad behavior," said Escobar.

On Saturday, EPISD interim superintendent Vernon Butler released a letter stating:

"These personnel actions are being handled with great care and any action as a result will not be made hastily. There is a process, and the district is currently working with individuals affected to ensure that due process is followed."

Since the audit from the Weaver firm isn't finished, it hasn't been made public.

Escobar told ABC-7 the district should push for the finalization of Weaver audit and look it over themselves.

"You should take that audit and first and foremost and see what is says and fully vet it and give the accused a chance to face their accuser give them an opportunity to see what is being said about them," Escobar goes on to say, "I'm asking that the status quo be reinstated, reinstate those principles while the investigation and the due diligence happens."

EPISD contacted ABC-7 late Saturday night and officials said they will make the results of the Weaver audit public by Monday evening.

EPISD will also be holding a highly contested board meeting this coming Tuesday.

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