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Education

Former South San District Leaders Join Boards Of Proposed Charter Schools

Three former trustees of the South San Antonio Independent School District have joined the board of a proposed charter school that would recruit students from South San.

Angelina Osteguin, Edward Mungia and Elda Flores were part of a board contingent that is no longer in power at South San. They opposed the current board’s decision to reopen schools amid declining enrollment.

Osteguin, who served as president of the South San school board before she lost her re-election bid in 2018, said she decided to join the board of the 7Cs Academy because she’s concerned about the children in the South San school district.

If approved by the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education, 7Cs Academy plans to open its first campus in the Edgewood school district. It’s charter application identifies Edgewood, Southside and South San as its primary service areas and the region’s districts of “greatest need.”

“I see the disadvantage the kids are receiving in my district because the programs that they have are not being used to its full potential,” Osteguin said, adding that she thinks the CEO of 7Cs Academy can improve students’ standardized test scores.

The decision to join the charter school’s board appears to have deepened existing hard feelings between the former trustees and current leadership at South San.

Former South San Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra is on the board of another proposed charter called Royal Public Schools.

South San Board President Gilbert Rodriguez and South San teacher union leader Tom Cummins suggested Thursday that their support for charter schools began while they were still part of the district’s leadership.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising,” Rodriguez said. “Speaking for myself, I believe that there was an intent there to close our schools, to keep them closed, and it was a disservice to the South San Antonio Independent School District and the community.”

Osteguin and Flores voted to close Kazen Middle School and Athens Elementary in 2017, before Mungia was on the South San board.

Cummins was more blunt, saying that he believed the closures were “part of their plan” to “bring in charter schools.”

“Part of transitioning to a charter school is the destruction of neighborhood schools,” Cummins said.

Asked if he had evidence to support that belief, Cummins said his opinion is a guess based on the pattern of behavior. Osteguin said she was asked to lead the 7Cs board after she lost the South San board election in 2018. She helped recruit Mungia and Flores.

Cummins said he believes charter schools have a negative influence on education because it spreads tax dollars between too many schools. State funding is based on a school’s enrollment.

Osteguin said Thursday she knows that adding more charter schools could further reduce South San’s enrollment, but she thinks parents should have a choice.

“If the school district was having the best programs and utilizing them to the fullest potential, parents wouldn’t be leaving,” Osteguin said.

According to Rodriguez, South San now has a plan in place to convince parents to stay.

“We’re going to compete as a school district, and we are going to fight to maintain, and continue to maintain, our identity,” Rodriguez said, pointing to the reopening of West Campus high school, Kazen Middle School and Athens Elementary as the first step to regaining the community’s trust.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.