“I think if it would have been one of your spouses that was verbally abused, I think it would be different,” Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez said in the moments before a vote was taken that finalized the resignation of Alex Rodriguez.
Commissioner Carlos Salazar barely let him finish his statement before saying, “I think you are getting beyond what you need to say commissioner.”
Ultimately, with the remaining three commissioners voting in favor, the court accepted the resignation or, technically, a change in status form indicating his resignation.
A change in status form amounts to the court formalizing the person’s employment status with the county.
Blandina Cost-ley, who is both auditor for the county and human resources officer, said that the court has the option of accepting the change in status as is or changing it from a resignation to a termination.
“The court can change the outcome,” she said. “They don’t have to accept a resignation. The commissioners court has the power to approve or not approve a change in status form.”
Commissioner Rodriguez said that the court’s action this week and during their meeting last month went against the recommendation of the Bee Community Action Agency administering board committee.
During a meeting two weeks ago, commissioners had scheduled an executive session to discuss a grievance filed against the Head Start director.
However, that morning and within hours of the executive session, he resigned.
Commissioner Rodriguez even then voiced his disapproval that the employees of BCAA — about half a dozen had showed up in court that morning — would not be heard nor would the grievance.
“I feel the court should have listened to what the employees had to say for a matter of record and then decided whether to accept the resignation or follow the policy council’s recommendation of firing this individual,” he said during that meeting.
Alex Rodriguez began his career with BCAA in 1981 as a driver.
He quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a classroom teacher, then a lead teacher overseeing several classrooms and staff, education coordinator overseeing student education and, finally, in 1984, as director of Head Start.
He left Head Start in 2007, taking a position as transportation director in the BCAA.
As transportation director, Rodriguez had a staff of 25 drivers, with 26 buses. His job was coordinating the transportation of elderly and others from throughout the county.
When the director position re-emerged, Rodriguez decided to go back.
In April 2010, Rodriguez was promoted to director of Head Start.
BCAA Executive Director Anna Simo said, “I received his resignation the morning of Feb. 25. The resignation was turned in to me by his spouse.
“After commissioners court that morning, I filed a change of status.”
Judge David Silva, like Salazar, was concerned about continuing the discussion.
“I don’t want us to get in trouble discussing an individual that is no longer employed by the county or BCAA,” Silva said.
Likewise, Commissioner Dennis DeWitt, also voiced concern about the conversation.
“She accepted the resignation,” he said. “All we are doing here this morning is a change in status.”
Simo, under questioning from DeWitt, said that she typically will not reject a resignation.
DeWitt said, “If you took the paperwork, you accepted the resignation. Period.
“I don’t think it is a appropriate to discuss a private citizen like we are doing right now because we could get into some litigation.”
Commissioner Rodriguez said that it wasn’t the employee he wanted to discuss.
“I am really discussing the resignation and the way it was handled,” he said.
The commissioner said that he was notified of the grievance on Oct. 20. Within a month, a recommendation was given by the board committee. However, he said, nothing was brought to the court until the end of February at a cost $18,000 in salary.
“We have had others that were terminated in a matter of weeks,” Rodriguez said.
The commissioner again reiterated, “I think the court would vote differently if it were one of your spouses.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.