The Edgewood Independent School District board of managers on Friday will consider action to place Superintendent Emilio Castro on paid leave pending an investigation into harassment allegations made against him by a district employee.
Last Friday, Feb. 16, Edgewood ISD employee Gloria D. Collins submitted a written complaint against Castro with the school district, detailing what she said were three separate incidents of unwanted physical contact, including an alleged incident earlier that day during which the two were alone in her office. Collins also filed a report with the San Antonio Police Department.
On Monday, Castro denied the allegations and said any complaint against the superintendent is turned over to the school board for review.
“The merits of this complaint are not factual and I look forward to the school board reviewing and investigating the complaint,” Castro said in a text to the Rivard Report. “I will have no other comment until this investigation is completed.”
Collins declined several requests by the Rivard Report to be interviewed about her allegations or about the statement filed with Edgewood school officials. In the statement – filed with the school district’s Talent Management Department, Office of Employee Relations and obtained by the Rivard Report – Collins’ job title is listed as “HR specialist.” Edgewood’s Talent Management Department was formerly called the Human Resources Department.
Collins’ statement recounted three separate occasions on which she wrote that Castro initiated physical contact that was unwanted and not encouraged by her. The first incident allegedly occurred in August 2017 when Collins first started working within the district.
In that first meeting, according to Collins’ statement, Castro shook her hand, cupping it for a length of time that she wrote made her feel “very uncomfortable.”
The second incident allegedly occurred at an event for new teachers. Collins wrote in the statement that she was sitting in a chair, welcoming the new employees, when Castro put his hands on both of her shoulders, squeezing them, and maintaining physical contact as he walked around her.
The third incident allegedly occurred Feb. 16, in a one-on-one conversation between Castro and Collins. She wrote in the statement that the two were seated in chairs while discussing how to keep substitute teachers when Castro placed his hand underneath Collins’ knee and “squeezed it gently.” Then, Collins alleged in the statement, Castro “rubbed his hand” down from Collins’ knee past her calf.
Collins reported the alleged incident that afternoon to the district’s employee relations officer.
According to Collins’ statement, as she was speaking to the employee relations officer, Daphene Carson, and a female Edgewood ISD police officer, Castro entered the room and said, “I just want to talk to her,” but was asked to leave.
On Monday, Carson directed all questions related to the allegations to the district’s communications offices. District spokeswoman Keyhla Calderon-Lugo said the district would issue no further comment on the matter until the investigation is complete.
After reporting the alleged incidents to district officials, Collins reported the matter to the San Antonio Police Department. The police report, dated Feb. 16, identifies the primary offense as “assault contact/non-family.” The report details the same alleged incidents of unwanted contact that Collins reported to Edgewood ISD officials.
An agenda for the school district’s regularly scheduled board of managers meeting Tuesday called for managers to “[c]onduct Superintendent’s Formative Evaluation” within closed session. A report on the allegations will be presented to the board of managers, according to a district statement.
Calderon-Lugo said an additional special meeting is planned for Friday, Feb. 23, to address the investigation. At this meeting, managers will consider hiring a third-party firm to investigate the allegations and appointing an administrator-in-charge, according to a published agenda.
Castro was first hired by Edgewood ISD in November 2016, leaving a job as the deputy superintendent of administration and operations at San Antonio ISD to take on the lead role on the Westside district of roughly 11,000 students.
Edgewood ISD is governed by a five-person board of managers, selected by the Texas Education Agency. The TEA installed the board of managers in May 2016, saying the elected board of trustees was unable to govern the district.
District policy states it should take “all steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.” In addition, policy mandates that Edgewood must permit an employee to report a grievance against a supervisor to an alternate supervisor if the grievance involves the supervisor violating the law in the workplace or unlawfully harassing the employee.
At a Feb. 6 board workshop attended by Castro, Senior Executive Director of the Talent Management Department Travis McKelvain made a presentation to managers about the TEA’s ethics training that is to be implemented throughout each school in the district.
Managers and Castro engaged in a lengthy discussion about the importance of the training, components of which include: teacher and student personal boundaries; educator-student interaction; student discipline and teacher anger management; conduct outside of school; confronting and reporting borderline behavior; and the role of administrators in the prevention and intervention of inappropriate behavior.