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Juan Cabrera’s former EPISD chief of staff resigns

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Jose López, the chief of staff to former Superintendent Juan Cabrera, resigned from the El Paso Independent School District Monday, a month after his boss tendered his own resignation.

López’s resignation is effective Feb. 16, 2021, said district spokesperson Melissa Martinez. She did not provide details about the resignation.

López has been with the district since 2009. Prior to Cabrera naming him chief of staff in 2016, López was executive director of strategy and accountability and developed student enrollment projections.

Cabrera stepped down from the district after he was sued in California state court for allegedly defrauding investors in former EPISD board President Dori Fenenbock’s online school, eSchool Prep. Cabrera has denied having a financial stake in eSchool Prep, though he was heavily involved as a consultant for more than a year, according to records El Paso Matters obtained.

López also consulted for Fenenbock’s school, El Paso Matters reported last month. He did so without getting the necessary approval from Cabrera.

The EPISD Board of Trustees tasked their internal auditor in December 2019 with conducting an audit of Cabrera’s involvement with eSchool Prep. López was named in that audit, according to a letter EPISD’s attorney sent the Texas Attorney General’s office seeking an opinion as to whether the district could withhold the audit from El Paso Matters. The attorney general has yet to issue a ruling.

Trustee Josh Acevedo, who was critical of López’s involvement with the online school venture, said Monday he’s “looking forward to the next era at EPISD.”

“I think we need to have transparent and accountable leadership who will involve the community” in major decisions, Acevedo said. “I think the public will be happy” about the resignation, he said.

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Molly Smith

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, with stops in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and now El Paso. She can be reached at mksmith@elpasomatters.org or 915-247-8857.

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