Harlandale ISD dumps longtime bond project manager
In a 4-3 vote, the Harlandale Independent School District board voted to end its latest contract with Jasmine Engineering, which had overseen millions of dollars worth of bond-funded construction and renovation work at multiple campuses for more than a decade.
Board president Carlos Quezada and trustees Christine Carrillo, Zeke Mendoza and Juan Mancha voted for the termination. During the public part of the meeting they declined to say why.
Board member David Abundis said he was “dumbfounded” by the decision.
“You guys are willing to take a risk that those campuses wouldn’t be completed?” he asked.
Jasmine Engineering is working on projects at Vestal and Caroll Bell elementary schools. As trustees went into closed session late Thursday, it was unclear if the majority had a plan to replace the firm, or how quickly that could happen. Jasmine’s current projects were due to be substantially completed five to seven months from now, said district spokeswoman Natalie Bobadilla.
Attending the meeting was Rep. Tomás Uresti, D-San Antonio, who in an interview expressed concerns that contract work wasn’t always being “completed on time, under budget.”
As a Harlandale ISD trustee several years ago, Uresti was unsuccessful in persuading the board to stop doing business with the firm. He slammed fellow trustees for paying Jasmine to conduct a study whose results would help determine the scope of work the firm was likely to — and did — subsequently get paid to oversee.
Colin Strother, a company spokesman, said the board ignored a contract provision requiring the district to give the firm 30 days to correct problems. If the board doesn’t reverse its decision, “they’ll be in court,” he said.
The Texas Education Agency announced last summer it was investigating procurement and contracting issues at Harlandale ISD.