(From left) South San Antonio ISD Trustee Connie Prado, who stepped down as board president Wednesday, and Trustee Gilbert Rodriguez, who was elected to replace her. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Longtime South San Antonio Independent School District Trustee Connie Prado gave up her seat as board president Wednesday night, citing a desire to focus more time and attention on her campaign to become Alamo Colleges District 4 trustee. If she wins in the May election, Prado will have to step down from South San’s board.

Prado told the Rivard Report earlier this week she had planned to retire from the board at the end of her term in November 2020. She has served as a South San trustee since 1998.

The seven-member board unanimously voted to name Gilbert Rodriguez, who has served as the board’s vice president since November 2018, as the new board chair. Rodriguez and Prado were two members of a group of four trustees that pushed through a controversial plan to reopen Athens Elementary, Kazen Middle School, and West Campus High School.

Trustees also voted to make Kevin Rasco, who was appointed to the board last September, the board’s new vice president.

Trustee Stacey Alderete thanked Prado for her service during a tenure that often was controversial. The district is under an active investigation related to the school reopenings and allegations of board dysfunction and questions into purchasing and contracts.

“When I first started here in this district, I was one of those ones that doubted her,” Alderete said. “I can sit here and swallow that bullet and say that I was wrong. … I’d like to thank you for showing me that you don’t give up, you’ve never given up. People have thrown and thrown and thrown at you and you’ve stood here and taken it like a champ.”

Alderete and other trustees said they would back Prado in her bid for Alamo Colleges District 4 seat. Prado will run against three other candidates: Jose “Joe” Gallegos Jr., Lorena “Lorraine” Pulido, and Robert A. Casias. Incumbent Marcello Casias did not file for re-election in District 4, an area that covers the southwest portion of Bexar County.

Rodriguez also expressed support for Prado’s candidacy and said he was eager to get started as the board’s new chair.

“I’ve served honorably for the Marine Corps for nine years, and this is just as important for me, being elected by my peers to represent our team of eight [trustees and superintendent] for our entire school district,” Rodriguez said. “I have been very clear, very transparent, very authentic on the type of leader I am, what I see for our school district, and we will pursue that relentlessly.”

At the end of the board meeting Wednesday night, trustees shuffled seats, giving Rodriguez a place at the center of the dais as Prado accepted a seat at the very end.

“Welcome to the neighborhood,” school district attorney Kevin O’Hanlon told Prado.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.