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Arlington schools superintendent Montenegro resigns

Hector Montenegro resigned his post late Monday after months of school officials questioning his acceptance of honorariums from outside organizations.

During a special meeting, Arlington school trustees voted to accept his resignation, which is effective July 31. He will continue to be on paid leave until then. He has been ordered to reimburse the district for outstanding travel expenses.

The decision comes about three weeks after trustees launched an outside investigation into whether Montenegro broke state law by accepting honorariums from educational nonprofits and whether his travel-related expenses were excessive.

His short tenure in the 63,000-student district, the second-largest in Tarrant County, began Feb. 1. He was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday. 7/17

In April, school district attorneys advised Montenegro to not accept honorariums from two groups that do business with the district, Advancement Via Individual Determination Foundation and the HOPE Foundation of Indiana. But e-mail records and attorneys' letters released Monday under the Texas Public Information Act show that he continued seeking speaking engagements with HOPE.

In 2007, state law changed to make it a Class A misdemeanor for superintendents to receive payments or items of value from school district vendors or those who want to do business with the district.

Concerns about Montenegro's outside income persisted through the spring. On June 27, trustees ordered Montenegro to detail his relationships and honorariums received from seven outside educational nonprofits.

As a result, Montenegro returned about $14,000 in honorariums since the beginning of July.

AVID was used in the district before Montenegro arrived. He introduced the HOPE Foundation's Failure is Not an Option program in the district and has promoted the program across the country.

The district spent about $240,000 this year on copies of the Failure is Not an Option book, related DVDs and conferences, including registration for administrators, principals and assistant principals who where required to attend a four-day institute held in Arlington in March.

Supporters of Montenegro said as the district's first minority superintendent he was unfairly targeted and was not given an opportunity to correct mistakes me may have made. About 40 gathered at a rally for him Thursday.

Montenegro had outlined some of his involvement with seven nonprofits in June. He also was ordered by the school board to detail his relationship and honorariums going back one year that was to be turned by Monday. He did not turn in those documents.