Reports claim Houston teacher arrested for human smuggling, districts confirm he isn’t employed there | Texas

(The Center Square) – A man claiming to be a Houston-area teacher was arrested for human smuggling in Kinney County, Texas, earlier this week.

The Center Square confirmed with two school systems that the individual in question is not employed as a teacher in either of them. 

On April 4, Galveston Sheriff’s deputies, who’ve played an instrumental role in assisting Kinney County’s interdiction efforts, apprehended a single Hispanic male claiming to be a Houston teacher transporting four illegal foreign nationals in a red, four-door sedan. Kinney County Sheriff’s Office posted information about the arrest on Facebook, a post that has since been taken down, stating that “Brandon Alexis Gracia,” previously posted as Garcia, was apprehended on Las Moras Road near Standard Lane in the county, a hot spot for human smuggling. “Deputies say he is employed as a teacher by Houston ISD.”

“Inside the car, deputies found 4 illegal aliens, including two young women,” the post continued. “… The driver, Brandon Alexis Gracia, faces four charges of felony smuggling.” 

Kinney County Sheriff’s Office regularly posts pictures and information about its deputies’ successful interdiction efforts catching human smugglers. Kinney County has been “under siege,” overrun with foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S. in the small border county who are mostly single military-age men, its sheriff says. They’re seeking to evade capture by law enforcement as they make their way north into the interior of the U.S. and make arrangements with smugglers through an intricate network organized by cartels and gangs to bring people from the border north to major cities like Houston and San Antonio. Often, the drivers are U.S. citizens hoping to make several thousand dollars per carload. If arrested, they’re charged with multiple felonies.

One news organization suggested Gracia was a teacher with a KIPP Texas public charter school that is not part of Houston ISD. A local Houston news station reported Gracia was a Houston ISD employee. The Center Square confirmed with the school districts that neither report is accurate. 

Austin-based Texas Scorecard reported “Gracia’s LinkedIn page shows he teaches at KIPP Texas Public Schools in Houston.”

Gracia was not a KIPP employee at the time of his arrest, according to the school. 

The Center Square contacted KIPP Texas, which issued a statement saying, “We have been informed of an arrest of a person who is no longer employed by KIPP Texas. This individual was shortly employed with KIPP Texas and has not been with our organization since August 2022. As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”

The LinkedIn page states Gracia was employed at KIPP Texas Public Schools from July 21, 2022, to the present. KIPP says he hasn’t been employed by the school since August 2022.

Fox 26 News initially reported, a “Houston-area teacher was arrested and charged with multiple felonies in Kinney County,” also indicating the individual was an employee of HISD.

The Center Square contacted the HISD Human Resources Office, which confirmed that no one named Brandan or Brandon Alexis Gracia is employed by HISD. 

KSCO told The Center Square Gracia had a Patrick Henry Middle School identification card on him when he was arrested. The school’s principal, Zabeth Parra-Malek, wouldn’t confirm whether or not Gracia had been employed there or if he’d been fired after his arrest in response to questions asked by The Center Square. Her secretary said no one could comment on the matter. 

In an update to its initial story, Fox 26 reported that the Houston Federation of Teachers Union said Gracia worked at HISD’s Patrick Henry Middle School and wasn’t a member of the union.

Gracia was processed in the Val Verde County Processing Center and transferred to the Briscoe Prison in Dilley, Texas, authorities told The Center Square. 

According to the state board of education, as of April 6, Gracia is licensed to teach Science in grades 7-12 as of October 7, 2022, with an expiration date of Oct. 7, 2023.

Gracia’s arrest marks the second time someone associated with the middle school has been arrested in less than a month. One of its 8th-grade teachers, Joshua Bennett, was arrested on March 16 for a DWI while he was on bond for two previous DWI charges from 2019 and 2022. 

After his third DWI charge, Bennett was arrested and booked into the Harris County Jail on a $5,000 bond last month, ABC News13 reported

Bennett is still employed by HISD, an HISD Human Resources representative told The Center Square on Thursday.

This article First appeared in the center square

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