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EPISD Trial Day 4: Denying student enrollment, residency checks

FILE: Former EPISD Superintendent James Anderson, former Austin high school principal John Tanner, former Austin high school assistant principals Diane Thomas, Nancy love, And Mark Tegmeyer are all accused of defrauding the system by manipulating test scores.

Denying enrollment to students and residency checks were the topics of discussion Thursday during the EPISD cheating scandal trial.

Five former EPISD administrators are accused of orchestrating a district-wide cheating scheme.

Mark Mendoza, the former director of pupil services at the El Paso Independent School District, took the stand.

In his testimony, Mendoza referred to the residency checks he said he was instructed to perform by Steven Lane, the former principal at Jefferson High School.

Mendoza said he was given a list of students to see if they lived within Jefferson High School’s district, but he testified saying he noticed that all the students on that list were 10th graders and Hispanic.

He also told jurors he wasn’t given an adequate explanation for why they were performing these residency checks.

Mendoza said he told Lane, “There’s no way I’m going to hunt Mexicans for you.”

While on the stand, Mendoza spoke about enrollment issues for students at Bowie and Austin high schools.

He said that per a student, enrollment for a female student from Juarez was denied by former Austin High School Principal John Tanner.

She didn’t speak English and per Mendoza’s conversation with the student, she was told it would be hard to pass the state exit exam.

Earlier Thursday morning, a former principal at Bowie High School took the stand.

Jesus Chavez said he became principal when the high school was lacking in their Adequate Yearly Progress rating with the Texas Education Agency.

In 2016, Chavez surrendered his superintendent and mid-management administrator licenses.

His agreement with the TEA states he can return to the classroom as a teacher in 2021 if he is hired by a school district.

Testimony will continue through the afternoon.

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