John Hoang

John Hoang covers education in Hidalgo County for The Monitor. He can be reached at or (956) 683-4435.

2,977 flags for 2,977 lives: McAllen students organize memorial memorializing 9/11 victims

Eduardo Rivas and his fellow students bowed their heads, standing in silence in front of Lamar Academy as American flags lay planted in the ground before them, a gesture to honor the victims of the deadliest terrorist attack on the nation. The Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth political organization with a local chapter, held a ceremony as part of the 9/11 Never Forget Project at Lamar Academy. These students planted nearly 3,000 flags in front of the campus to remember the life of each victim killed on Sept. 11, 2001, with coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. Students, teachers and community members walked by the small flags that were planted on the ground as Rivas and his fellow organization members recounted the details of the historic day. After they finished presenting the details of the attacks and its impact on the victims, they held a moment of silence. Read the full story at

Judge requests more evidence in McAllen schools election contest

EDINBURG — After about two hours of oral arguments, District Judge Romeo Flores on Wednesday requested that more evidence be presented with regard to a McAllen school district election contest before making a decision. This allows for the attorneys to move forward with finding evidence. Gina Karam Millin filed a petition for an election contest in June against school board member Tony Forina, following a closely contested race in May in which he defeated her by 12 votes in the race for Place 4. Read more at the

Hearing set in McAllen ISD election contest

A hearing is set Wednesday for the election contest between Gina Karam Millin and Tony Forina with regard to McAllen ISD’s May election, the latest action in a relatively quiet dispute. Filed through her attorney, Ronald Hole, in June, Karam Millin alleges in the petition that McAllen ISD “systematically promoted” Forina, who defeated her for the Place 4 seat in the election by 12 votes — 2,759 votes to 2,747. She also charges that a curriculum audit that would have been “very damaging,” according to the petition, was not released until after the election.

Edcouch-Elsa ISD makes changes after data breach

The Edcouch-Elsa school district is taking further action to address the sale of computers with sensitive information through policy changes and efforts in public transparency after failing to do so earlier this year. Administration sent a letter Sept. 5 to all district parents with information about an April 6 auction in which computers with sensitive information, such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers, were sold.  The letter indicated the information on those computers came from two locations: Truan Junior High School and the Transportation Department. Read the full story at

PSJA school board names Houston ISD area super as lone finalist

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school board has named a lone finalist for the superintendent position to succeed Daniel King, who announced his retirement in June. Trustees named Jorge Arredondo, an educator with over two decades of experience in the field, as the lone finalist for the post in a 4-3 vote Thursday evening. In accordance with state law, school districts must wait 21 days before being authorized to approve a contract for a new superintendent. Arredondo is currently the area superintendent for Houston Independent School District, which has over 200,000 students. Read the full story at

Former Monte Alto ISD employee sues district, trustees over firing

A former employee is challenging his dismissal from the Monte Alto Independent School District, alleging he was wrongfully terminated by the district for “perceived political association” with former board members. Pete Riojas, the former executive director of business administration, filed a petition through his attorney, John Shergold, against Monte Alto ISD and four current board members. Riojas filed this petition in U.S. District Court in McAllen on Aug. 23. Read the full story at The

Progreso school district marks official opening of $3 million tech building

The Progreso Independent School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony for an over $3 million technology building on Tuesday morning. After more than four years of construction, the district will offer a variety of classes for engineering and manufacturing to be taught in the new building, which is located nearby the district’s high school and middle school. Most of the instructors are from South Texas College, which adds a “special context” in providing training and expertise to the classrooms, Superintendent Sergio Coronado said. Classes began on Aug. 26, district-wide, with this ceremony officially recognizing and showcasing the facility’s amenities. Read the full story on

STC gets $1.9M grant for migrants

South Texas College received $1.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education through the High School Equivalency Program grant. The grant funds a five-year project to assist about 500 migrant and seasonal farmworkers. This group, along with their eligible family members can earn the equivalent of a secondary school diploma and receive postsecondary education or training. The project aims to increase access to education for GED programs, industry-recognized certifications, career pathway training and certificates or degrees.  In the first year of the grant, STC will receive about $370,000. The amount will increase slightly each year, until it’s last year, when the college is slated to receive $394,000. Read the full story at

PSJA ISD police department poised to apply for state certification

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District is continuing the process of creating an in-house police department and is near its final stages as it waits for a state agency to certify the department.  The district in June hired Police Chief Rolando Garcia, who is tasked with hiring, making policies and creating the department. The school board approved Garcia’s current position in May following a process that started in December 2018 to create the in-house department. The school district has entered a memorandum of understanding with its three cities and will send the application to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement early this week, Garcia said. Read the full story on

Teacher feedback helped influence McAllen ISD pay raise adjustment

McAllen school district trustees voted to increase compensation across the board in a room filled with veteran teachers and concerned employees during a contentious board meeting last week. Many local representatives from the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a union with local chapters, and trustees felt that the initial proposal presented by administration did not compensate experienced teachers enough. School board members voted for a compensation plan for employees June 17 based on a “conservative” expectation on school revenue in accordance with models. However, additional funds were higher than what the district expected a few months ago, leading to a series of board meetings and workshops in August to discuss and approve additional compensation. Trustees compromised on the adjusted and approved measures. Read the full story on