The former superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District was sentenced to 42 months in prison on charges he was involved in a conspiracy to inflate the district’s test scores, officials said.
Lorenzo Garcia was sentenced in federal court on Friday after pleading guilty in June to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. In addition to the testing scandal, Garcia pleaded guilty to a fraud count in connection with the award of a no-bid contract of $450,000 to a lover. For that, Garcia received a second 42-month sentence that will be served concurrently.
Garcia, who was taken into custody to begin serving his time, will face probation when he is released. He was also fined $56,500 and ordered to make restitution of $180,000, according to officials.
The Texas cheating scandal is one of many that have come to light around the country as school districts seek to use inflated scores to claim more federal aid. The largest scandal is believed to have been in Atlanta, where 178 teachers and administrators in at least 44 schools erased and changed test answers to improve scores over several years.
Garcia has acknowledged working with others to prevent hundreds of high school sophomores from taking tests. By identifying those most likely to do poorly, Garcia was able to increase the district’s overall results. Among the tactics used by Garcia was having an employee photograph students crossing the Mexican border so they could be persuaded not to take the tests.