HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A school principal is in a legal battle with the Valley View Independent School District (ISD) after he says they reprimanded him for reporting an assault of a special education student.
Tomas Villagomez worked as the principal of Valley View ISD’s fifth-grade campus until being reassigned to an assistant principal position at Valley View High School when the fifth-grade school shut down.
According to court documents, in December 2020, a paraprofessional assigned to cover a special education class assaulted a student by dragging him by his ankles several feet from her desk.
Villagomez was informed about the incident a day after it occurred, according to an affidavit. He met with a school official and a district police officer to issue a report about how he learned of the incident and view surveillance video.
According to the affidavit, Villagomez states the child was known to have behavioral problems and was photographed attempting to pull educators from their chairs.
When the teacher in charge of this student’s class called in for medical reasons on Dec. 1, 2020, Villagomez assigned a paraprofessional to be in charge of the class.
This paraprofessional is the one who was involved in the aforementioned incident regarding the student being pulled by the ankles across the classroom.
Court documents state that the district chose to handle the situation administratively instead of pressing criminal charges or having an outside investigation done. The paraprofessional was subsequently suspended three days for the incident, according to court documents.
In response to Villagomez assigning a paraprofessional to the class instead of another teacher or substitute, Leonel Galaviz, Valley View ISD superintendent, issued a reprimand to Villagomez on Dec. 3.
The reprimand scolded Villagomez for this decision, which the superintendent says contributed to the assault situation occurring.
Galaviz stated that any further negligence from Villagomez could result in termination.
Following this reprimand, Villagomez filed a grievance with the district to remove the censure from his record, believing it was only issued because Villagomez filed a police report on the incident. He also contested with Galaviz’s claim that he knew about the incident the day it occurred rather than the day after.
Galaviz rejected the grievance in a written statement, saying that Villagomez’s decision lacked good judgment on Dec. 1 and that Villagomez was not the one who initially reported the incident to police.
In March 2021, Villagomez filed a lawsuit against Valley View ISD for violating the Texas Whistleblower Act. Villagomez believes his reporting of the incident is what caused the superintendent to retaliate by reprimanding him.
The district responded that Villagomez is not covered by the Whistleblower Act because he did not disclose any information that wasn’t known before and that Villagomez did not suffer any termination or suspension as a result of the reprimand.
This case has stretched into November 2021, where Villagomez has responded asserting that he acted in good faith by reporting the incident when he knew about it and was then reprimanded hours later.
Each side will likely submit additional pleas to the jurisdiction before the trial begins. A docket control order states the trial will be held on the matter on March 28, 2022.