Houston ISD trustee Manuel Rodriguez told us yesterday he wasn't going to take a public position on the much-debated-question in recent months of whether the principal at Patterson Elementary is any good or not.
"It's not a board member position to handle administrative or personnel positions," he said taking the high road in response to our question about principal Jeannie Castano.
But in the past few months a lot of teachers, parents and concerned citizens have registered as public speakers to address trustees at their board meetings about Patterson. On February 13 a woman named Esmeralda Sanchez was among them.
Except that isn't her real name. She's actually Angelina Rodriguez, Manuel Rodriguez's daughter.
And even though her father was sitting right there at the trustee table as the video shows, neither he nor his daughter corrected the mistake when Angelina came to the speaker's mike after board president Juliet Stipeche called out "Esmeralda Sanchez."
Which also begs the question: Why did Angelina Rodriguez answer to another name, clearly spoken by attorney Stipeche?
"I don't know how that mix-up happened, but she signed up I believe as Angelina so I don't know about the other name," the trustee told us yesterday after confirming that "Esmeralda" was in fact his daughter, Angelina.
But a check of the officials speakers' list for that meeting does not contain Angelina Rodriguez's name or any variation of it. It does include Esmeralda Sanchez's.
And perhaps no one else on the board recognized the true identity of the speaker, but some audience members did including one person who contacted us and said she was shocked to see Angelina Rodriguez - who she'd known for years - up there under a different name.
Although she did not want her name revealed, the person who contacted us wrote: "For an elected official to watch upon his own daughter provide false information at an official board meeting speaks volumes about his honesty."
During her speech to the board, "Esmeralda" said she had a goddaughter at Patterson and that the principal was a bully.
"I want to speak on behalf of my goddaughter who goes to Patterson and let you know that the principal there has a 97 percent bully rating from her staff and is on a growth plan, and as far as I've seen there's been no growth," she is seen saying on the HISD video at about 5:30 in Part 2 of the public speaking portion.
The same sentiments are reflected almost exactly in a post Angelina Rodriguez had on her public Facebook page:
Asked if the record ever got cleared up about Esmeralda Sanchez/Angelina Rodriguez, Manuel Rodriguez said "I don't know."
There is a rule about board members not engaging with members of the public who are allowed to make their comments and then return to their seats. Perhaps in this case, Manuel Rodriguez could have made an exception?
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