Marta Carmona
12:37 p.m. June 3: This story has been updated with details from Marta Carmona’s supplemental contract.

The Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees named Internal Auditor Marta Carmona interim superintendent this week.

The district’s top post has been vacant since longtime Superintendent José Espinoza resigned May 5, days after two of the four school board members in the majority voting faction lost their re-election bids.

The new majority, made up of Board President David Morales, Vice President Ricardo Castellano, Secretary Eddie Mena and Trustee Pablo Barrera, were critical of a February 2020 internal audit Carmona conducted that found 29 students graduated in 2019 without meeting the necessary requirements. The new leadership said the findings reflected the failure of Espinoza’s leadership.

That audit was part of Carmona’s regular audit plan for the 2019-20 school year. She oversees curriculum and instruction audits. SISD has a separate auditor for financial matters.

The Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to offer her the interim superintendent position, with trustees Castellano and Barrera voting against it.

Carmona will be paid a $391 daily stipend on top of her current $113,131 salary. She will continue serving as internal auditor.

She said her immediate priority as interim superintendent is ensuring that SISD’s plans for the upcoming school year “are communicated to everyone in a consistent manner and on a regular basis so everyone knows what the expectations are as we move forward in reopening.”

Earlier this month, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Marivel Macias told trustees the district plans to return to in-person learning next school year. If the state allows it, SISD will offer a virtual academy for students who want to continue learning online.

Carmona said another priority will be allocating the nearly $100 million federal coronavirus relief funds SISD will receive, which must be spent by September 2024.

The appointment was particularly meaningful for Carmona, who describes herself as “homegrown.” She and her siblings graduated from Socorro High School and her parents worked for the district — her late father as a bus driver and her mother as a cafeteria manager.

Three of her siblings work for SISD as teachers and two are also head baseball coaches: Nick Alvarez coaches at Pebble Hills High School and Jose Alvarez at Socorro High School.

“I am very proud that the district trustees have placed their trust in me, but I can also attest to the community that the focus of our district is to give opportunities to children and to let them know that their best interest is our top priority,” Carmona said.

She started her education career in 1993 as a bilingual teacher in SISD, according to her LinkedIn profile. She worked as an instructional facilitator for bilingual education in the Clint Independent School District before becoming an assistant principal at Borrego Elementary and Garcia Enriquez Middle Schools and principal at Sambrano Elementary, all of which are in the San Elizario Independent School District.

She returned to SISD in 2014 as internal auditor for academic services, a position Espinoza created in 2013, a year after arriving to the district. The role “prepared me to see, or to have a balcony view, of all district operations and ensuring that they are done in an effective manner,” she said.

She received her superintendent certification in 2016 and is on track to complete a doctorate in education from Baylor University in December.

Asked whether she plans to apply for the permanent position, Carmona said “that bridge will be crossed when it gets here. Right now my focus is to make sure that the district does not suffer from major interruptions … and offer a smooth transition so that the students, faculty and employees are minimally affected.”

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.