Ysleta Independent School District’s (YISD’s) seven-member board of trustees unanimously voted on July 30 to suspend YISD Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre for three days without pay for not immediately telling the board of the matter, according to reports by KFOX 14.
— Molly Smith (@smithmollyk) July 31, 2019
De La Torre maintains that he did not head-butt anyone, nor cause the scene that occurred between him and Socorro Independent School District (SISD) Superintendent Jose Espinoza at a Whataburger restaurant on June 13.
However, a police report of the incident said that Dr. Jose Espinoza was head-butted in the face.
While the police report does not mention De La Torre by name, news outlet KFOX 14 said it was able to confirm that the suspect who had allegedly assaulted Espinoza was De La Torre.
The two superintendents were in San Antonio that day for an annual conference event held by the Texas Association of School Boards.
At a Whataburger restaurant, Espinoza was approached by a suspect who asked: “Where are you coming from? Soccer practice?”—apparently commenting on Espinoza’s clothing, the report from the San Antonio Police Department read.
When Espinoza asked the suspect to repeat the question, the suspect did indeed repeat the question and then allegedly head-butted Espinoza in the face, the police report said.
After that, Espinoza punched the suspect in self-defense and the suspect fell to the ground, Espinoza told police.
The report says that an off-duty officer was on the scene and was able to separate the two superintendents while police were called to the scene.
The suspect appeared to be drunk, the police report said, citing “the odor of intoxicants emitting from his person, slurred speech, and red bloodshot eyes.”
Both men were apprehended but no criminal charges were filed. The suspect—said to be De La Torre—was then escorted back to his hotel.
Recordings obtained by KFOX 14 of conversations between De La Torre and SISD school board trustee David Morales, show that their version of the story differed to that of the police report.
The conversation between the two suggests that they understood that Espinoza was unprovoked when he punched De La Torre, and that the version of the police report “flipped it all around.” In the conversation, De La Torre expressed that he did not remember head-butting anyone.
De La Torre’s statement made on July 23, obtained by KFOX 14, said that he sincerely apologized for the incident and said that “this is not who I am.” He proceeded to say that he “was not the aggressor in this incident, contrary to recent reports.”
“I did not head-butt anyone. I understand there is information in the public domain that states otherwise, but this information is inaccurate as to the actual events that transpired that night,” he said in his statement.
“As Superintendent of Schools, I am rightly held to a higher standard; and as an educator for over 32 years, I understand the immense responsibility my public position holds,” he noted. “Please know that I remain deeply committed to the students and parents of the Ysleta Independent School District, and will continue to work tirelessly to maintain the district’s momentum toward a higher level of excellence.”
The YISD school’s temporary three-day unpaid suspension decision took into account the following factors: no criminal charge was filed; the altercation occurred outside of business hours; and De La Torre’s successful track record.
According to the El Paso Times, the three days of suspension do not have to be consecutive, and De La Torre gets to decide the days with board President Cruz Ochoa. No time frame was provided as to when the days are to be decided.
YISD parent Daniel De La Cruz said that De La Torre’s behavior was unacceptable.
“Knowing the facts that he was belligerent and drunk, I would basically ask the board members to fire him,” De La Cruz said according to the El Paso Times. “That is not a way to represent our community. It’s an embarrassment; it’s a disgrace.”
The YISD board president said after the vote on July 30 that the board “is ready to put this matter behind us as we look forward to the upcoming school year,” the outlet reported.