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EL PASO, Texas — A federal judge sentenced the former superintendent of El Paso Independent School District to more than three years in prison Friday for his participation in a conspiracy to improve the district’s high-stakes tests scores by removing low-performing students from classrooms.

Lorenzo Garcia’s scheme to prevent hundreds of sophomores from taking the accountability tests fooled authorities into believing that academic standards had improved in his West Texas district — resulting in a boost in federal funds and personal bonuses totaling at least $56,000.

He pleaded guilty to two fraud counts in June; one in the testing scandal and another in which he misled the school board so that his lover would receive a $450,000 no-bid contract to produce school materials.

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On Friday, the judge sentenced him to 3½ years in prison on each fraud count, to be served concurrently. Garcia was fined $56,500 — the exact amount he received as a bonus from the district.

Associated Press