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Ribbon cutting results in reprimands for La Joya school employees

La Joya ISD reprimanded a handful of employees last month because they failed to clock out for a ribbon cutting at the Peñitas Starbucks, according to Superintendent Marcey Sorensen.

Peñitas held a ribbon cutting for its new Starbucks on February 19.

Photos from the event show Peñitas Mayor Ramiro Loya, members of the Peñitas City Council, Justice of the Peace Sonia Treviño and former La Joya councilman Esequiel “Chuck” Garza in attendance.

Many — probably most — of the politicians in the crowd work or have worked for La Joya ISD.

Politicians being La Joya school district employees is nothing out of the ordinary for western Hidalgo County.

Loya, for example, worked for the district, but so have the mayors of La Joya, Palmview and Sullivan City.

Sorensen declined to say who violated district policy by attending the event on the clock and who didn’t. She noted that some employees who attended did follow policy and clocked out.

“I want to ensure that we are honoring our time as La Joya ISD employees,” Sorensen said. “And if we hold multiple roles, say we’re an elected official and that we’re also a La Joya ISD employee, that we’re clear about where we are when we’re supposed to be on the clock. And that if we’re on the clock, we are La Joya ISD employees. And if we’re not on the clock, that it is documented in advance that we are taking our own time to go serve in our other role.”

Potentially, friction with the sorts of politicians who attended the ribbon cutting is an awkward place for Sorensen — a state-appointed executive hired after a hostile takeover — to start her tenure.

Peñitas’ council voted last year to support the state stepping in and appointing the board of managers Sorensen currently serves. In November Garza ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor of the only municipality La Joya ISD encompasses that didn’t vote to support state intervention.

Sorensen, however, spent no time on small town political faction feuds describing the incident. She said it’s a cut and dried policy issue, related to policies on time management, ethics and conflict of interest.

“It’s been made very clear that La Joya ISD is not going to mix and mingle in terms of politics, although politics are intertwined in any school district,” she said. “But that we’ve got to be really clear about the lines.”

There was another ribbon cutting in Peñitas early this month, for Panda Express.

Many of the same politicians attended, along with cheerleaders and mariachis from La Joya ISD — and Sorensen.

She said what wasn’t present for that ribbon cutting were any policy violations.

“I think people just need clarity,” she said. “And I think that those lines may have been blurry before, and we just want to make sure that people are really clear moving forward.”

This article has been corrected to reflect the current job status of Mr. Ramiro Loya.

1 Comment

  1. NM on March 26, 2024 at 10:51 am

    It’s about time…

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