By Marco Poggio
The Edgewood Independent School District trustee named in a domestic violence allegation reported to police in May submitted his resignation last week, a spokesman for the district said Wednesday.
Yet there was no mention of the resignation at a regular meeting Monday when the board discussed what to do about Morales in a closed session, trustees said.
John Morales, 39, sent emails to board secretary Virginia Trevino on July 22 and its president, Eddie Rodriguez, on Saturday, saying he had resigned, an attorney for the district said.
“Hi Virginia, I regret to inform you that I need to resign from the board effective immediately,” Morales wrote in the email to Trevino. In the one sent to Rodriguez, he wrote, “I do apologize for being MIA but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and this is the only way I can concentrate on my family and health.”
Rodriguez and Trevino could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The emails were released Wednesday by Escamilla & Poneck, the law firm that advises Edgewood.
Save for a quick appearance June 9, Morales had not showed up at any board meeting since the allegation. His wife told officers he roughed her up during an argument, according to a police report. Morales was not charged, but his prolonged absence had left the board repeatedly split 3-3 on important questions without his vote.
The board took no action after Monday’s discussion on Morales. Rodriguez, interviewed Tuesday, predicted a resolution of the problem when the board revisited the issue Aug. 11.
“The decision we’re going to make on that day is going to be something very good. Probably all of us are in favor of what we’re going to do,” Rodriguez said, declining to provide details.
The resignation took other trustees by surprise.
“I do not know why Eddie would withhold vital information from his colleagues. This shows the problems of communication we have in the board,” said trustee Mary Lou Mendoza, who had criticized board leaders for what she said was stalling on her attempts to get the board to discuss Morales’ situation and domestic violence in general.
Trustee Tina Morales, no relation to John Morales, said she didn’t learn of the emails until Wednesday but defended Rodriguez’s decision not to tell the board about them. The district requires such resignations in writing, signed by both the resigning trustee and the board president, she said.
“I would not give credit to an email, “ Tina Morales said.
District rules state the board “may not refuse to accept a resignation” of a trustee. But the board has no way to remove a trustee who has not been indicted, officials said.
“The board doesn’t have that power,” said Donald Walheim, an attorney with Escamilla & Poneck.
Under Texas law, trustees can be removed if a judge determines they intentionally violated the law, were intoxicated with alcohol or committed felonies, none of which seems to apply to John Morales, Walheim said.
Morales did not respond to an email seeking comment. In a previous interview, he said he and his wife were together and happy and declined to say if he would resign or return to board meetings.
The Edgewood rules say a board seat cannot be left vacant for more than 180 days if the person who resigned had more than one year left in his or her term. Morales’ term expires in November 2018, so the board will have an option to appoint a replacement or order a special election to fill the vacancy.