HISD board reconsiders decision on interim superintendent

- The Houston Independent School District Board of Education is reconsidering their decision to replace interim superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan with former HISD superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra.

The board will meet Thursday to consider the recession of the board's action last Thursday to appoint Dr. Saavedra as the district's interim superintendent and consider the reinstatement of Dr. Grenita Lathan in the position.

The board made the announcement during a press conference Monday evening.

The threat of a Texas Education Agency take over was already looming over the Houston Independent School District.  Now, how will this latest debacle with the school board swapping superintendents and then reversing their decision effect the TEA’s decision?  

The HISD School Board’s game of Superintendent Switcharoo has not gone unnoticed by the TEA, nor by Houston’s mayor.  In fact, Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s not entertained and not up for playing regarding such a serious issue.  “There is no more tolerance for dysfunctionality,” says Mayor Turner, who is clearly running out of patience with the HISD School Board.

"The last thing parents and students need to be concerned about is whether or not the board members are getting along with one another,” says the Mayor.  This public scolding of the board comes after trustees announced Friday Dr. Abe Saavedra, who was HISD’s superintendent from 2004 to 2009, was being brought back to replace Dr. Grenita Lathan as Interim Superintendent.

The news sparked an uproar, especially when you consider the board was almost racially divided, Hispanics versus Blacks, after Trustee Diana Davila made a motion to replace Dr. Lathan and the vote passed 5 to 4.

"Not in this city, not in this city.  We value our diversity and more importantly we value getting along with one another.  We have to work together in order to be Houston strong. You can’t be Houston strong and be divided. A house divided against itself will not stand,” adds the mayor.   

Mayor Turner has spoken with State Commissioner of Education Mike Morath after this school board bickering made its way to Austin.  "He and I visited for quite some time. We are both on the same page."

The Texas Education Agency calls this “a local policy matter" but says the agency will take over a district if “a school board and superintendent are having issues affecting the education and achievement of students.”  The TEA also says a take over is imminent if “there is so much dysfunction the district is unable to operate.”

The mayor has strongly defended HISD to the TEA, which may not continue if board members insist on doing battle with one another.  “Because quite frankly I will tell you there’s no more tolerance now on my part,” says Mayor Turner.  

Dr. Saavedra was actually supposed to begin today as HISD’s Interim Superintendent.  Instead, school board members and Dr. Lathan are holding a news conference at HISD Headquarters to announce Dr. Lathan will continue as Interim and Dr. Saavedra is not being brought back.

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