San Benito CISD program director fired after $17K airline ticket purchase

SAN BENITO — The firing of the school district’s long-time after-school program director apparently stems from his purchase of $17,000 worth of airline tickets for a chess team.

Last week, Superintendent Nate Carman fired Jack Garcia a day after the after-school director lost a grievance hearing into his reprimand for failing to follow policy stemming from his purchase of $17,214 to fly 42 students and 17 chaperones to a state chess championship tournament in Houston.

Tony Conners, Garcia’s attorney, said he would appeal the termination.

Carman declined to comment about Garcia’s firing.

According to Carman, Garcia was unauthorized to use his district credit card to buy the tickets because he had failed to obtain a purchase order.

However, Conners argued Garcia was authorized to purchase the plane tickets because that has been part of his job since he took over as the district’s chess coordinator about 15 years ago.

For years, district officials knew it was Garcia’s practice to buy the chess team airline tickets to travel to tournaments, Conners said.