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Garland ISD Accuses Former Official Of Profiting From Foreign Teacher Visa Program

Stella M. Chavez
These four teachers are among 23 in the Garland school district who face deportation when their visas expire. From left: Elizabeth Nino de Rivera, Francisco Marcano, Alfonso Casares and Bernardo Montes.

More than 600 teachers on H1-B visas were hired to work in the Garland school district during a 10-year period. In that time, the district says the former head of human resources, Victor Leos, pocketed fees and took numerous all-expenses paid recruiting trips to the Philippines.

District officials and a law firm working with the district revealed those findings Tuesday. Some of the teachers who were recruited face deportation when their visas expire in a few months.

Alfonso Casares Tafur said he’s disappointed the district isn’t doing more to help him and other teachers facing deportation.

“There is an injustice here,” he said. “Others made the mistakes. Others didn’t file our documentation in the right way and still we have to pay the consequences.”  

District officials allege the scheme by Leos was extensive. Some of the recruited teachers were told they could live in a rental house owned by his stepson, who was also a district employee.

The investigation also revealed Leos directed teachers to a law firm where his stepdaughter worked. She’s a convicted felon.

Leos has since retired.

Hector Flores, past national president of LULAC, said the teachers did everything they were told to do.

“I think there were promises made by employees of the district and even the lawyers of the district,” he said. “So they had high expectations that these were going to be completed and unfortunately, that didn’t happen. And they feel like they’ve been defrauded.”

The Garland school district is also looking at Leos’ former boss, associate superintendent Gary Reeves, who’s on paid administrative leave. It claims Reeves knew about some of the wrongdoing, but didn’t stop it.

Federal officials are now investigating the case.