Response to sudden Houston ISD interim superintendent shuffling

Dr. Abelardo Saavedra wasn't the type to ignite passions while he was the Houston Independent School District superintendent. Teachers say he was easy to work with, a competent but unremarkable leader.

Former Houston Federation of Teachers president Gayle Fallon is puzzled by why the Houston ISD Board of Trustees would want him back and why he would agree to return.

"I think frankly, they're having trouble finding someone who wanted to be superintendent of HISD, when normally, we would be a district that a superintendent wanted," said Fallon. "This district now could be a career wrecker."

Saavedra's career may be on the decline anyway. He has been the superintendent to the South San Antonio district since 2014. He had announced his pending retirement at the end of March 2019. Before he led Houston ISD, he was in charge at Corpus Christi, where he got in some trouble for using a school district credit card to buy alcohol. He then came to Houston for six years and during those years, he did not impress Children at Risk president and chief executive officer Bob Sanborn.

"We have a history with Abe Saavedra that is not a positive one," said Sanborn. "This district did not do well under Superintendent Saavedra and so to think that we can recruit someone from a small district near San Antonio and bring him into Houston and be a successful interim is absurd."

Sanborn also said that under Saavedra's leadership, the district neither flourished nor foundered. He didn't start any notable new programs nor did he eliminate any successful ones.

The current HFT president Zeph Capo is taking a more "wait and see" approach, but he wonders if replacing interim superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan with anyone is a good idea.

"Shouldn't this have happened several months ago?," asked Capo. "Shouldn't we be farther down the road in making a decision regardless of who it is, getting us closer to the point when we have someone permanent so we can start building a vision and moving forward?"