Following its superintendent’s forced resignation after harassment allegations were made against him, Edgewood Independent School District reached out to community members for input on important qualities in a new district chief.
However, the two scheduled community forums Monday and Tuesday nights drew only about 10 people on each night. Marisa Perez-Diaz, Edgewood’s director of strategic partnerships who ran the meetings on behalf of the district, expressed disappointment at the turnout.
“We did what we could to get out the word, but I wish we had more people here,” she told the Rivard Report.
Perez-Diaz said the district will continue to solicit community feedback in other ways before the board makes any kind of a decision.
Emilio Castro resigned after harassment allegations were lodged against him by a district employee. The district is under the guidance of interim Superintendent Phillip Chavez.
Edgewood is governed by a state-appointed board of managers, which the Texas Education Agency put in place in May 2016 because it found that the elected board of trustees was unable to run the district effectively.
The board of managers hired Castro in November 2016. He resigned effective March 31.
The Texas Association of School Boards Executive Search Services is leading the new search process. TASB also ran the search that culminated in Castro’s hiring. Because Castro stayed in the job less than two years, TASB is conducting the new search free of charge, according to a district contract.
On Monday and Tuesday, search consultants Marian Strauss and Butch Felkner led a discussion, asking the small crowd two questions: What did you like about past superintendents that you want to see in a future leader, and what personal and professional characteristics are important?
The residents’ responses were mostly uniform, expressing support for a superintendent who engages with parents and community members, is honest and transparent, knows the staff on the district’s campuses, and is a good role model.
The district said it plans to solicit additional input online. District officials said they met with the district’s former elected board members for priorities in a new superintendent.
Memorial High School senior Dazerick Ramirez said that the new superintendent should be someone who can relate to students and understand the challenges they face.
“We need someone who isn’t in it for the money,” he said. “We don’t want someone who hasn’t experienced us. We want someone who has the background to understand the motivation a lot of us use to get to graduation.”
Memorial High School Spanish teacher Sandra Contreras said she wants someone who will focus on the change that happens between elementary school, when students are motivated and excited to learn, to high school, when a lot of that spark has been lost.
“I don’t know what it is, but something happens at the middle school level,” she said.
She said she also wants a superintendent who will leave “personal matters” behind when conducting district business.
On Monday, Strauss said approximately 50 people had started the application process, but that not all of those would necessarily apply. The potential applicants included candidates from rural and urban districts and both in-state and out-of-state areas.
TASB plans to review applications with the district’s board of managers on May 2 and the board will conduct interviews May 7-9. Follow-up interviews will take place May 14-17.
Strauss said the board plans to vote on a finalist by May 24. The vote would be followed by a 21-day waiting period, as prescribed by state law, and a vote to hire the candidate on June 19.
Edgewood ISD is one of three local school districts conducting a search for a new superintendent. Alamo Heights and Judson ISDs also are looking for new leaders.