EDINBURG, Texas — Advocacy groups are speaking out against an Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees member who used “special ed” as an insult during a meeting.
During a board meeting on Tuesday, Edinburg CISD Board of Trustees Secretary Robert Peña, Jr. joked that another board member was “special ed” because of a mistake that member made.
A few members of the board began laughing during the incident.
Soon after the board meeting was posted, several residents were not happy with what they heard on the recording.
RGV Special Education Advocate Veronica Garza spoke out on social media about the issue. She later responded with a statement, saying of the comment:
“It was a direct insult to the families of Special Needs to hear such tomfoolery go live and recorded for everyone to hear from this committee. As Virtual Learning is very stressful for our families of the RGV, it does not help to hear “Special Ed” used jokingly during this video, it insults the intelligence of the Department of Special Education in every school district and the children themselves as they use the services provided from Special Education. It gives an offensive indication that children with special needs are a pun and not to be taken seriously for their abilities and their potential.”
KVEO reached out to Edinburg CISD for comment on the situation and they responded with:
“The district does not comment on deliberations of the Board of Trustees.”
However, Peña made an effort to apologize for the incident on social media. He stated:
“I regrettably made a statement using the term ‘special-ed’ in a joking manner to my longtime childhood friend and colleague, President Oscar Salinas. Of course, this is inexcusable. However, I have the integrity to admit my fault. I would personally like to apologize to Oscar, as well as our community. After having served our community in various capacities for many years, I understand that even a moment in jest can be insensitive to those we serve. I would also like to thank the many parents and advocacy groups, who reached out to me and shared their thoughts on how we as a Board can edify this moment and build upon your needs for our 504 & I.E.P. students. And likewise, thank you to the many who do know me, my character, and being as a person.”
A clip of the incident can be found below.