Four San Antonio-area school districts are in the process of selecting new leaders this month, following departures that include a retirement and an unexpected resignation. 

The superintendent searches are the latest in a three-year period that saw dozens of superintendents across the state stepping down, including the leader of the Northside Independent School District.

The second largest district in the region will begin interviews next week to replace Brian Woods, who served NISD since 2012. Woods announced his retirement in October. 

Karen Freeman, the president of the NISD board of trustees, said in a statement that two weeks in February were slated for interviews, with the goal of naming a lone finalist by March 1. 

In an interview, she said the board is in no rush, however, and will take more time if it is needed.

“We understand that change does bring on some anxiety,” Freeman said in a letter to parents. “We know though that Northside’s excellent reputation of a deep culture rich in beliefs and values and a focus on what’s best for students will help us attract highly qualified people to a very demanding job.”

The district has received 34 applications from candidates in Texas and eight other states, Freeman told the San Antonio Report.

Changing of the guard at Somerset ISD

According to recent surveys by the Texas Association of School boards, superintendents have served in their current districts for a median of three years. That makes leaders like outgoing Somerset ISD Superintendent Saul Hinojosa an outlier.

Hinojosa, who joined Somerset as a teacher, served as superintendent since 2007, making him the longest serving leader in the region.

On Tuesday, Jose Moreno, who has served as superintendent of Robstown Independent School District since August 2018, was announced as the lone finalist to replace Hinojosa as leader of the district of just over 4,000 students in Southwest Bexar County.

Jose Moreno was announced as the lone finalist to replace Saul Hinojosa as leader of Somerset ISD.
Jose Moreno was announced as the lone finalist to replace Saul Hinojosa as superintendent of Somerset ISD. Credit: Courtesy / Somerset ISD

Moreno said in a statement that he was honored by the selection. 

He now enters a 21-day waiting period, required by state law, before he can assume the role. 

The educator has more than 28 years of experience, including eight as superintendent. 

Prior to serving in Robstown, Moreno was the superintendent at La Vernia ISD, east of San Antonio, where he created the district’s first dual language program, and increased the district’s accountability scores, according to a release.

The reasons for his 2017 resignation at La Vernia were not shared, but the San Antonio Express-News reported at the time that the departure came months after a sexual assault and hazing scandal within the athletic program at La Vernia that resulted in 13 students being charged with sexual assault. 

Natalie Martinez, a spokeswoman for Somerset, said the district was aware of the incident at La Vernia.

“The investigation showed once Dr. Moreno learned of the incident he took proper course of action and was commended by the school district for his leadership during that difficult time,” she said. “The superintendent search provides a thorough review of candidate backgrounds. Dr. Moreno’s record at both La Vernia ISD and Robstown ISD is glowing.”

Martinez added that the district has the “utmost confidence Dr. Moreno will be a good leader for this community and this school district.”

Moreno was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Despite his resignation, Hinojosa isn’t leaving the education world completely, he told the San Antonio Report, adding that he is looking at several options.

 “I’ve been here 20 years, and I knew this year was going to be big for our district with the 100-year anniversary,” Hinojosa said in an interview. “I just feel that I wanted to give back to students in a different way.” 

Among the successes Hinojosa is credited with is turning around Somerset ISD from an academically struggling district to one given an A by the state in accountability rankings this year.

Hinojosa has already begun working as a search consultant for Walsh Gallegos, a major law firm that assists school districts in Texas in vetting and selecting superintendent candidates for the board to interview.  

A deadline at Judson ISD

After Jeanette Ball’s unexpected resignation in November as superintendent of the Judson Independent School District, its board of trustees has been working to find a new leader.

With municipal elections just around the corner, the school board is trying to complete the search and interview process for her replacement before three board members are up for election. 

The Southwest Independent School District named Jeanette Ball as its lone finalist for superintendent in January.
The Southwest Independent School District named Jeanette Ball, former superintendent at Judson ISD, as its lone finalist for superintendent in January. Credit: Courtesy / Southwest Independent School District

“We want to make sure that we’re able to make a decision without disruption,” board President Jennifer Rodriguez said in an interview. “That’s a major transition if we’re going to have any new board members, and we want to make sure that everything is ready to go before that happens.”

Community input and candidate recruitment will occur simultaneously, Rodriguez said, with associates from the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates planning to attend existing advisory meetings, as well as scheduling meetings specifically to gather input to create a leadership profile that will guide their selection of candidates.  

Information on those meetings are not yet available, but will be shared in the coming days.

“What’s really important to us is that we hear from everybody who has an opinion to share,” Rodriguez said. “We will really take that, and all of that will be compiled to create the leadership profile that we’re going to be looking for to match them to candidates who apply.”

Judson alum Milton “Rob” Fields III has been acting as the interim superintendent since Dec. 1.

Familiar name at Southwest ISD

Two months after Ball’s resignation at Judson, the Southwest Independent School District named her as its lone finalist for superintendent in January.

Ball began her career as a teacher at the district in 1998. Trustees may finalize her contract after the 21-day waiting period ends on Feb. 8.

Lloyd Verstuyft is retiring from Southwest ISD after serving as its leader since 2009.