Police investigating former Edinburg school board candidate

EDINBURG — A former candidate for school board here is under investigation for allegedly stealing more than $20,000 from an educators group, the Edinburg Police Department confirmed this week.

The Austin-based Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) filed a report Jan. 9 with Edinburg police accusing Michael Balderas of making several unauthorized debit card transactions amounting to more than $20,000 between June 2017 and September 2018.

ATPE declined to comment “due to the ongoing nature of this investigation,” according to a brief statement it released.

“However, as the leading voice for Texas educators, ATPE is committed to protecting its members’ dues dollars, and our approximately 100,000 statewide members can rest assured that the association has a process in place to address potential malfeasance,” the statement further read.

Balderas, a former technology support specialist with the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, and who served as vice president of ATPE’s Region 1 from 2016-17, said he only learned about the allegations against him Thursday. Balderas said he needed “to look into what’s going on” before he would be ready to comment.

Region 1 covers the Rio Grande Valley and members of the state’s largest association for public educators pay membership fees ranging from $10 to $225 to receive legal, insurance and professional benefits and services.

The city of Edinburg released the police report summary to The Monitor via a public records request but declined to disclose other documents related to the case due to it being an open investigation, according to a March 4 letter it sent the attorney general’s office.

Balderas unsuccessfully ran for the Place 2 seat on the ECISD board in November 2018 and is currently employed with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation as workforce development and special events coordinator. At the time of the election, he was president of ATPE’s Edinburg chapter, according to his campaign materials.

Criminal investigations range in length before charges, if any, are filed, said Lt. Oscar Treviño, police spokesman.

Asked how long it takes investigators to reach out to the subject of a police report, Treviño said, “it depends on the type of case.”

Investigators will usually “gather as much information as possible before conducting an interview with a suspect in a case,” he said, which includes contacting victims and potential witnesses and “leav(ing) the suspect for the very last.”