July 19th, 2017
Nieto resigns from school board
By SASHA von OLDERSHAUSEN
Presidio — Presidio ISD’s school board accepted the resignation of Carlos Nieto from his post as vice president at Monday’s school board meeting. Nieto, a school board member for nearly two decades, tendered his resignation following criminal charges filed against him last month. Sitting school board member Velva Saenz will take his place as vice president.
Nieto was not physically present at the meeting. The school board’s attorney received his letter of resignation from Liz Rogers, an Alpine-based defense attorney who has been representing Nieto on charges of mail and wire fraud and deprivation of honest services within his position as special projects coordinator for the city of Presidio. Nieto was arrested by FBI agents in a sting operation in late June.
The letter was brief, simply stating Nieto’s decision to step down from the post. “My current situation requires all my energy, resources, and attention and I do not want to distract from the important business of these entities,” the letter stated. “It has been my great pleasure to serve on these boards, and I wish you and my colleagues every success in your future endeavors.”
“We have bigger fish to fry now,” said attorney Rogers. “He can’t do the work of the school board when we’ve got a criminal case hanging over us. He needs to focus on this because his liberty is at stake.” She added, “I am very proud to represent Mr. Nieto and I look forward to defending him on these charges.”
In his letter, Nieto also resigned from the Presidio ISD Education Foundation board and from the Presidio County Appraisal District board of which he was president.
Though Nieto had just been elected vice president of the school board earlier in June, he has served as a school board member for more than 19 years, including a decade-long stint as board president. “He’s been a very active board member,” said Presidio ISD Superintendent Dennis McEntire. “He’s been a positive force in many ways.” Among his achievements, Nieto was instrumental in facilitating the William and Susan Soza Scholarship Fund, a several milliondollar fund that provides one-year, $1,000 awards to graduating seniors from Presidio High School. He also worked former US Representative Ciro Rodriguez to clinch a Department of Energy grant to establish a solar energy system at the high school. The school currently derives approximately 25 percent of its power from solar.
Nieto also served as the president of the Texas Association of School Boards on the state level, and sat on that board for several years more.
“He was very influential with with legislators on the Senate and House side,” McEntire said. “He was very well respected on the Texas Association of School Boards. Those kinds of contacts with attorneys and legislators and different officials have always been the way to advance Presidio ISD.”
News of Nieto’s arrest rocked the Presidio ISD school board, and the Presidio community at large. “It came as a shock to everybody,” McEntire said. “Whether you like Carlos or didn’t like Carlos, I don’t think anybody ever thought that he was taking money.” “We feel like this is a tragic happening for the city, the county, the school district,” he added. “We’ve lost a part of Presidio for good or bad and in a way, that’s done harm. Our job as a school district and our job as community members, is to look at the positive, learn from this and make our community better.”
For now, McEntire said, the school board has remained calm and focused on following necessary legal procedures.
Nieto’s trial date has been set for September 18, 2017. In the meantime, McEntire remains optimistic. “Presidio is a city, a community with heart,” he said. “I think this is one man, one mistake, and that if people really have faith in Presidio and understand what a good community it is, I don’t think it will take us long to repair the damage and move ahead.”