DONNA — Three newly-elected trustees are officially sworn into their places at the Donna school district board. New leaders were also selected among the seven trustees by what could be a new board majority.
Sworn into their places were trustees David De Los Rios for Place 5, Roberto Perez for Place 6 and Marisela Valdez for Place 7. They are replacing former board president Efren Ceniceros, who served for 8 years, John Billman, who served one term, and Eloy Avila, who also served one term but didn’t run for re-election.
Both Billman and Ceniceros were not present during the meeting, which was led by trustee Valentin Guerrero and took place before the holiday break on Nov. 15. Avila was present but quietly left his seat without making any remarks.
Two female trustees will be leading the board as president and vice president. Trustee Eva Watts was selected for the top position and newly-elected Valdez was voted vice president of the board. With only minutes of experience on the board, Perez was also selected by his peers to serve as board secretary.
Trustee Alicia Reyna, who was mainly supported by trustee Donna Mery, was also nominated for president and vice president, but she ultimately lacked the support of the other trustees for both positions.
Trustees De Los Rios and Valdez are not foreign to the board and the school district in general.
De Los Rios was one of two trustees appointed to the board in February 2016 to fill in seats left open by the arrest of two former trustees, Elpidio Yañez and Eloy Infante. De Los Rios served until Nov. 2016 when he lost the election to Eloy Avila.
The unusual manner in which the appointment was conducted was later ruled as a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act by an appellate court.
Before her successful run for the Donna school district board, Valdez worked in the district’s administration, most recently serving in the role of chief financial officer, a promotion that came with a large pay raise.
Valdez’ qualifications for the position were later questioned after an internal audit, which led to her suspension and later termination, as well as the suspension of former superintendent Fernando Castillo, who appointed her to the role.
The only items on the special meeting’s agenda were to canvas the votes, swear in trustees and reorganize the board. No regular meetings have been announced yet.