Progreso ISD explores options to fill seat vacated amid bribery scandal

MIchael Vela Resignation Letter // File Photo

A vacancy left by the resignation of Progreso ISD TMs school board president could create some tricky legal issues for the district.

Michael Vela resigned last week amid a federal indictment that named him, his brother and their father.

Vela TMs brother Omar is mayor while their father Jose Guadalupe Vela worked as the school district TMs transportation and maintenance director.

The three are accused in a pay to play bribery scheme involving city and school district contracts.

All three are out on bond and set to be arraigned before a federal judge in Houston on Monday morning.


Both Michael Vela and his father Jose Guadalupe Vela officially resigned from their posts over the past week.

Michael Vela TMs resignation letter was faxed last week while his father TMs one-line note arrived by mail on Wednesday.

But Progreso ISD TMs attorney Kevin O TMHanlon said Michael Vela TMs resignation from the school board may create some tricky issues.

The seven-member Progreso ISD school board is expected to meet on Monday to decide what to do next.

O TMHanlon said the board has several options but may consider holding a special election or appointing an interim, who will hold office until the upcoming May 2014 election.

According to O TMHanlon, Vela TMs term was coincidentally set to expire on May 2014 causing minimal further disruptions to the school board TMs election process.

Board Reorganization

But O TMHanlon said the school board will have to reorganize since Michael Vela served as school board president.

Under the by-laws of the Progreso ISD, school board members elect officers amongst themselves.

Although the school district TMs vice president is the automatic successor, O TMHanlon said the school can choose new officers form amongst themselves.

O TMHanlon said school board members will also have to decide that issue at their next meeting on Monday.

TEA Speaks

Action 4 News spoke with the Texas Education Agency in Austin.

TEA officials said Michael Vela TMs resignation is a local issue that will have to be decided based on the school district TMs by-laws.

Spokeswoman DeAtta Culbertson said Texas state law allows the board to continue to meet with a quorum and provides guidance.

Under the Texas Education Code, a school board can appoint an interim who serves until the next election.

School districts in Texas can also call a special to immediately replace the vacant seat.

If more than one year remains in the term of the vacant seat, Texas law requires school districts to hold an election within six months time.