Juan Cabrera

Superintendent Juan Cabrera’s tenure at El Paso Independent School District appears to be nearing its end, with the school board meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss a “voluntary separation agreement.”

The meeting comes after the board met Oct. 30 and directed their attorney, Anthony Safi, in consultation with board Vice President Al Velarde, to “follow up” on what the board discussed for nearly three hours in closed session. That discussion was likely a resignation agreement.

Cabrera’s resignation comes after he was sued in San Diego County Superior Court in September to reclaim almost $5 million the state of California alleges he and former EPISD board President Dori Fenenbock defrauded investors of in 2019.

The investors, who themselves face state fraud charges in California, invested in the online school Fenenbock launched in 2019 with the belief Cabrera would resign from EPISD to focus on the school, the civil suit states. The lawsuit also alleges Cabrera has a financial stake in Fenenbock’s school.

Trustees are expected to name an interim superintendent Thursday, according to the meeting agenda.

Cabrera has not responded to interview requests, but since news of his involvement with the virtual school broke in fall 2019, he has maintained he is an unpaid advisor.

Cabrera has been EPISD superintendent since September 2013. The state-appointed Board of Managers, led by now-Mayor Dee Margo, hired him to lead the district in the wake of the cheating scandal that broke following the 2011 arrest of former superintendent Lorenzo Garcia.

Cabrera hadn’t worked as a school district administrator prior to his hiring and EPISD paid for him to obtain his Texas superintendent certificate.

From 2010 to 2013, Cabrera was an attorney at O’Hanlon, McCollum & Demerath, LLP (now O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo), according to his LinkedIn. The Austin-based law firm specializes in school law.

Trustees Diane Dye, Chuck Taylor and board President Bob Geske voted against directing Velarde and Safi to follow up on the discussion from the Oct. 30 meeting.

Trustees Josh Acevedo, Daniel Call, Freddy Klayel-Avalos and Velarde voted to call for Thursday’s meeting.

Molly Smith has been a reporter for the El Paso Times and The (McAllen) Monitor. She’s covered education, criminal justice and local government. A Seattle native, she’s lived in Texas since 2014.