Goliad commissioners terminate school resource officer contract
GOLIAD - The school resource officer agreement between Goliad County and the Goliad School District was terminated, effective Sept. 30, on Tuesday during commissioners court.
Precinct 1 Constable Michael De La Garza announced in the meeting that he plans to file complaints against County Judge David Bowman with the Texas Attorney General's Office and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for his actions regarding the school resource officer position.
De La Garza claims Bowman violated state law in urging officials of the Goliad Independent School District to not hire Paul San Miguel for the student officer position. San Miguel is a former Goliad County Sheriff's deputy who ran against the current sheriff, Kirby Brumby, in the 2012 election.
"I think that being elected officials, myself being an elected official, we are held to a higher standard. And I think that if, for some reason, if I do something wrong, I expect to be held accountable for it. Nobody is above the law - nobody," De La Garza said.
Bowman, who voted with commissioners Ron Bailey of Precinct 3 and Ted Long of Precinct 4, to terminate the agreement with the school district, said he has not acted unprofessionally.
"One of the things the constable has forgotten is that the statutes require the commissioners court to approve whoever is hired as the deputy constable, unlike any other office, and we took that action," Bowman said.
Bowman said he discussed with school officials that the hiring of San Miguel could be "potentially problematic" because of "obvious conflicts between the sheriff's office and Mr. San Miguel."
However, Bowman said he voted to terminate the current agreement, which names De La Garza as the commissioning officer for San Miguel, not because of an employee conflict but to put the school resource officer under the office of the sheriff instead of the constable.
"My main concern is that we have now created a special employee class as far as pay, and I think the proper move for the county is to go back and revisit that and get the SRO, whoever it might be, classified as a regular deputy," Bowman said, since San Miguel is paid at a higher rate than deputies paid by the county.
Bowman said he provided a proposed new agreement to the school board in early May for review. That agreement places the school officer position under the sheriff and pays the deputy according to county pay rates.
Goliad Superintendent Christy Paulsgrove said she just received the agreement back from the district's lawyers in Austin with suggested changes, and she has not had time to review the proposed contract with the school board.
Paulsgrove said she is disappointed by Tuesday's split vote to end the contract, which was approved in February and had the school district paying for the entire program.
"It is a shame, but we realize now they are not wanting to work with us, because I did not get a call before this meeting today (Tuesday). They gave us some information, and they gave it to us in the May meeting and told us to take our time. We haven't even had our June meeting yet, so we haven't even had time to discuss it," Paulsgrove said.
She said the board will still look over the proposed contract at the June 10 meeting, but she said the school board will also be looking at other options, such as applying for a school police department or applying for a commission from another county, though members say these may be more expensive options.
Brumby said he could not comment on the dispute over the school officer position because he is being sued by Goliad School Board Trustee Robert De La Garza, the former sheriff in Goliad, from when Robert De La Garza applied for the school resource officer job in 2009 and did not get it.
Brumby did say, however, that if the school decides to create its own police department, his office would provide dispatch services to save them that cost.
Bowman said the commissioners are open to forming a new agreement with the school but wanted to give them ample notice that the current agreement would end Sept. 30.