Thousands of dollars spent on the chess club in San Benito has landed their after school program director in hot water.
Most of the public comment during San Benito C.I.S.D.’s regular meeting was used to praise the chess program.
That’s after the district put the After School Program Director Jack Garcia on administrative leave, regarding travel for the team.
“If procedures have changed, they should have been discussed,” said Rosalinda Garcia, a San Benito resident. “Could’ve reprimanded or something, but to put him on administrative leave?”
S.B.C.I.S.D. Superintendent Nate Carman said Garcia’s punishment comes after district officials became aware he had purchased nonrefundable, overnight, plane tickets without a purchase order.
The group rate to fly over 50 students cost $17,000.
The superintendent says he told Garcia to cancel the flight and to bus the students.
Carmen explained the forms for overnight travel weren’t given to his office for approval until a week after they were purchased, making it a, “unauthorized purchase.”
“If they make a purchase for the district, any employee in that situation is responsible for that debt incurred,” Carmen said.
Garcia’s attorney, Edward Conners, said Garcia didn’t violate any policies. He adds that this is the way Garcia has done it for years and no one, until now, has raised any concerns.
“If the superintendent wants to change things, then he needs to do it with perspective without condemning Jack Garcia,” Conners said.
Carman says they are working with the school’s credit card company to dispute the airline charges.
In a statement to CBS 4, the district said:
Be assured that qualifying chess students will be participating in the upcoming 2019 Texas State Scholastic Chess Championships (“Super State”), slated for March 8-11 in Houston, Texas. Tournament participants and their coaches and chaperones will be transported to and from the tournament venue via charter buses. Also, please know that chess teams have not always flown to state and national chess tournaments; they have traveled by charter bus many times over the years to said tournaments.