Superintendent's evaluation, contract discussed in closed session at meeting

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Jim Wells County Correspondent

About 30 supporters for Premont ISD superintendent David Garza filled the school board meeting room June 28 where his evaluation and contract was to be discussed in closed executive session along with other personnel assignments.

"It's upsetting that they are pounding on him just because he is doing his job," Melissa Garcia, one of Garza's supporters, said.

Another supporter agreed.

"The community is tired of it," said Crissy Cabrera, a former board member and current city council member.

School board president Olga Ramirez opened the meeting at 6:35 p.m. and in less than one minute the board went into executive session to discuss personnel assignments and reassignments and the superintendent's evaluation and contract.

Garza's supporters said his evaluation was uncalled for because Garza was evaluated about four months ago. At that evaluation, the board decided not to renew his contract.

Garza first took the position as a Premont Independent School District's superintendent in October 2002 with a four-year contract that extended to June 30, 2006.

His annual salary was set at $70,000 in addition to a paid vacation, car allowance, paid medical benefits including life insurance, along with paid profession fees and dues not to exceed $500 a year.

Also in the contract was a clause that stipulated if Garza was to be terminated he would continue employment with the district in the role of an administrator.

In a June 2004 regular meeting, the board voted 4-3 to extend Garza's contract for two years, which would extend his contract through 2008. Again, in an April 14, 2005 regular board meeting, the board extended Garza'a contract by a 4-3 vote for another two years, extending his contract to 2010.

At the June 28 special meeting, the board was in executive discussion for two and a half hours before reopening the meeting.

At 9:05 p.m. the meeting was back in open session. Under the school board attorney Ricardo Rodriguez's advice, the board decided to table the items of taking any action on Garza's contract and any other personnel assignments.

After the meeting, board member Mark Cantu, who recommended to the president to have the special meeting, was disappointed.

"I was the one that wanted the meeting tonight," Cantu said. "I'm not very happy with where we are academically as a district after five years of leadership under superintendent David Garza."

After the meeting, Garza said he had no idea why the board called this meeting.

"I really feel the meeting was called basically to retaliate against me because I'm doing my job," he said. "There are no reprimands in my file…it's a form of intimidation."