State Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr. threatened to sue the La Joya Independent School District last week over a $39,000 bill for “legal services.”
La Joya ISD fired Sergio Muñoz Jr., a local attorney, in December.
Sergio Muñoz Jr., though, said La Joya ISD didn’t send him a termination letter until Jan. 31. According to Sergio Muñoz Jr., the letter from La Joya ISD stated his contract for legal services would be terminated “thirty days from the date of this notice.”
“If payment is not made by Friday March 10, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. then we will have no other choice but to file a lawsuit against you and the other responsible parties,” according to a letter from Sergio Muñoz Jr. to La Joya ISD dated March 6. “In the lawsuit we will not only be seeking compensation for legal services that are due and owing, but additional court costs and attorney’s fees due to the failure to abide by the contract terms and the collusion on the part of the district.”
The Progress Times obtained the March 6 letter Sergio Muñoz Jr. sent to La Joya ISD, which explained his version of events.
“I can’t comment in too much detail because of the threat of litigation,” school board President Alex Cantu said in a statement. “Also, since we have not been served with any lawsuit, I’m not sure what those claims would be.”
La Joya ISD hired Sergio Muñoz Jr., the son of former state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Sr.; attorney Eric Flores, the son of former state Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores Sr.; and attorney Victoria Flores, who is Eric’s wife, in 2019.
Eric Flores resigned in October 2021, when he accepted a job with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Sergio Muñoz Jr. kept working for La Joya ISD, which continued to pay $19,500 per month to “Flores and Muñoz” for legal services.
He wasn’t the only attorney on the payroll.
Attorney Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz of Pharr and the law firm of O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo also represented the district.
La Joya ISD fired Sergio Muñoz Jr. on Dec. 14, less than a month after candidates aligned with Cantu took control of the school board.
“The district is facing financial difficulties due to past actions and we have to tighten our belts and make the best and most efficient use of our resources,” Cantu said in a statement. “This is an ongoing process and we are continuing to seek ways to cut costs that don’t negatively affect the students.”
Cantu said the district needed to focus on students and staff.
“It’s been too long that past factions have used the district to enrich family and friends to the detriment of the employees and students of the district,” Cantu said. “It’s our goal to make sure that the students and staff benefit first because that is who the district should serve.”
On Friday, after this article was published, Sergio Muñoz Jr. said he never received a request for comment from the Progress Times.
“The letter was only addressed to Superintendent Saenz. I know she shares everything with Mr. Cantu which is how he knew to request the letter. As to his claim that the district is trying to cut costs, on legal fees that we were earning is just being paid to the other legal counsel of record. They haven’t saved any money on that,” Sergio Muñoz Jr. said in a text message. “Mr. Cantu has always put his own financial interests ahead of anything he has done. Why don’t you ask him why he was courting my father before he passed away to help him grow his business. ?”
Sergio Muñoz Jr. also disputed that he did not do any work for La Joya ISD in January or February.
“I would be required to wind down and close any pending business with the district like you would with any client,” Sergio Muñoz Jr. said in a text message.
Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz, however, said that Sergio Muñoz Jr. didn’t do any legal work for La Joya ISD in January or February.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a statement from Sergio Muñoz Jr.