Houston ISD interim leader rejected despite stellar job review

There is new information emerging in the campaign to retain Dr. Grenita Lathan as the superintendent of the largest school district in the Lone Star State.

Based on her latest performance review obtained by Fox 26, Lathan had good reason to believe she'd earned the job.


Despite an extensive list of accomplishments, including the turn-around of 51 academically struggling schools, HISD Trustees voted 6 to 3 last week against upgrading Lathan from interim to the permanent leader of the District.

Lathan's supporters have alleged racial bias on the part of several trustees.

"Why wouldn't you give somebody who has already proven their track record the job instead of going out and grabbing somebody as an experiment who has no track record here whatsoever. "That is not in the best interest of our children," said Rhonda Skillern-Jones, a former HISD Board President and Lathan supporter.

RELATED: City leaders allege racism influenced HISD superintendent vote

Documents obtained exclusively by FOX 26 indicate the interim Superintendents' job evaluation based on meeting seven key challenges, including the pandemic, earned a score of 86, well above the minimum passing grade of 75.

As for the District's ambitious academic goals - during Lathan's two and half year tenure, grade-level reading proficiency improved from 38 to 44 percent, the number of college and career-ready graduates rose modestly in the right direction and HISD as a whole earned a "B" rating from the state.

But in the eyes of Board President Sue Deigaard, the progress generated by Lathan has been too slow and too inconsistent.

Deigaard cited district-wide assessments released in March before the pandemic shut-down campuses.

Those numbers indicate HISD, under Lathan's leadership, is "not on track" to reach the three-year goals set by the Board for reading, writing and math.

Deigaard tells FOX 26 comparable urban school districts have set higher expectations and met them.

She insists HISD students deserve the same commitment.