On Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at approximately 7:00 p.m. more than 70 parents, teachers, and students within the Tuloso Midway school district area who were affected by school grade point averages (GPA) rankings demanded change from the school board. Community members wanted answers rather than board members ignoring questions by parents and teachers for the past three school board meetings, says one former teacher of Tuloso Midway. In a 4-3 vote on Tuesday, board of trustees voted to keep Superintendent Dr. Rick Fernandez on paid administrative leave, although one board member is under investigation by the Texas Education Agency for fraudulent GPA scores.
What caused T.E.A. Investigation into TMISD Board of Trustee Stephen Hoelscher
In the fall of 2020, Dr. Rick Fernandez gets hired as superintendent of Tuloso Midway ISD and discovers 1,200 grades changes, resulting into teachers blaming the pandemic to passing students that were failing. Superintendent Dr. Fernandez hired a law firm to investigate the grade changes. Attorneys started interviewing TMISD teachers, questioning whether they changed grades inappropriately, to which teachers took offense to. Fernandez turned over all information gathered by the investigative attorney’s to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Fast forward to May 2021 during graduation season, all Tuloso Midway seniors didn’t have GPA rankings leading up to the walking of the stage of graduation. Many students called counselors to get their rankings, but were not made publicly available til Senior Awards. During the senior award ceremony, a week before graduation, the 2021 Valedictorian was announced with AB honor roll. Riley King became the Valedictorian for 2020-2021 school year. A letter by a Jennifer Xac (salutatorian) given to Dr. Fernandez prompted the superintendent to investigate. Dr. Fernandez found that Riley King shouldn’t have been the 2021 Valedictorian which consisted of her having A and B Honor Roll. Jennifer Xac (salutatorian) and Brianna Chapa (ranked third) discovered that their rankings of the class were incorrect due to a unfair disadvantaged non-district P.E. course. The courses consisted of Rodeo and Livestock classes that were made secretly available to only a selected few students. The situation brought to light board trustee member Stephen Hoelscher’s two children. In previous school years, his children were nominated Valedictorians. Hoelscher’s two children were also enrolled in the livestock activity courses that student and parents say were unfair for the financially disadvantaged students, although their regular P.E. courses were not credited to their GPA rankings.
Furthermore, according to confidential sources, the Tuloso Midway ISD board member, Stephen Hoelscher’s two children graduated in 2017 and 2020, both with Valedictorian rankings that were allegedly proven not to be accurate by superintendent Dr. Fernandez’s investigation. Confidential sources filed a complaint with Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the TEA is investigating several complaints that include, four students that had unfair advantage involving a non-district education class, which is Livestock activities and Rodeo, that was not offered to the entire school district; bringing light to the violation of Education Equal Opportunity Act through the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. Also, in a letter given to TMISD, a complaint was made for nepotism. Finally, the TEA is also investigating the retaliation by board members and teachers to politically push out Dr. Rick Fernnandez from the superintendent position according to a TEA letter given to the school district.
Board Members Who Voted To Place Superintendent On Paid Administrative Leave
Paul Mostella, President
Stephen Hoelscher, Secretary
Jan Mostella, Vice-Secretary
Kimberly Boone, Trustee