DALLAS — There has been a recent rise in superintendents leaving the education industry in parts of the U.S., forcing many districts to deal with shifts in their leadership teams.
North Texas is in the middle of its own transition period. Since November 2021, 10 superintendents from 10 local school districts have announced they are leaving, resigning or retiring from their leadership positions.
Three happened on the same day: Jan. 13, 2022.
These 10 superintendents include:
- Little Elm ISD superintendent Daniel Gallagher (announced Feb. 14, 2022)
- Plano ISD superintendent Sara Bonser (announced Jan. 26, 2022)
- Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Fort Worth ISD superintendent Kent Scribner (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Northwest ISD Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Superintendent Steve Chapman (announced Dec. 14, 2021)
- Richardson ISD superintendent Jeannie Stone (announced Dec. 13, 2021)
- Mesquite ISD Superintendent David Vroonland (announced Dec. 13, 2021)
- DeSoto ISD Superintendent D'Andre Weaver (announced Nov. 15, 2021)
- Lewisville ISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers (announced Nov. 2, 2021)
In the wake of these announcements, several North Texas school boards have met to discuss COVID policies and teacher retention issues. Some districts have even asked parents to volunteer to cover classes because of extreme substitute teacher shortages.
While some superintendent positions have been filled, other districts are still looking for the right candidates.
Here is a closer look at where things stand at the moment.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is stepping down from the position after more than six years in his most recent stint in the role, according to a district press release sent out Jan. 13, 2022.
Hinojosa, who will leave his post in December 2022, spent 42 years in public education and 13 years as Dallas ISD superintendent overall.
Hinojosa said he has had talks with the board and that they knew he couldn't be superintendent for another 10 years.
The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees has begun a national superintendent search. After initially hiring two law firms to help find Hinojosa's replacement, the Austin-based law firm Walsh Gallegos is leading that change for the district.
From April 11-14, 2022, the district held sessions talking with parents and people from the community to talk about what they expect from the new superintendent.
During a closed session on May 18, 2022, board members named Dr. Stephanie Elizalde as the lone finalist to become the district's next superintendent.
A native Texan, Elizalde is currently the superintendent of Austin ISD. She served as Chief of School Leadership for Dallas ISD before moving onto Austin ISD.
Elizalde first joined Dallas ISD in 2011 as Director of Mathematics in the division of Teaching and Learning.
Throughout her education career, Elizalde has served students as a teacher, a principal, an assistant superintendent and other roles. Along with Dallas ISD and Austin ISD, she has also worked in Southwest ISD and San Antonio ISD.
Elizalde was named one of four Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Hispanics in Education in 2014. The Dallas Morning News also named her a "Point Person" for her work in the community in 2016.
Elizalde has been awarded the UT-Austin Dr. Nolan Estes Leadership Ascension Award four times, most recently in 2017.
Elizalde is a third-generation public school educator, following in her grandmother’s and father’s footsteps.
The DeSoto Independent School District Superintendent D'Andre Weaver submitted his resignation on November 2021, and the school Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept it during a November board meeting.
DeSoto ISD provided more details in December on what the superintendent search process would look like for the district's board.
The district later announced the board voted to approve Dr. Larry Lewis as interim superintendent during a special called meeting on Dec. 15, 2021.
On Jan. 28, 2022, DeSoto ISD posted on its website that district leaders are working with the O’Hanlon, Demerath and Castillo Law Firm to find the next superintendent.
The application and posting opened Jan. 25, 2022 through the law firm’s website.
On Feb. 28, 2022, The district's school board held a closed session where members opened its "Superintendent Search application process."
On April 21, 2022, the district's Board of Trustees named Dr. Usamah Rodgers as the lone finalist for the superintendent position. Trustees voted to approve the decision at a special called meeting held on April 20, 2022.
Rodgers started in the education industry as a teacher before becoming Dean of Instruction, Assistant Principal and Campus Principal.
She later transitioned to executive leadership roles as an executive director and, most recently, as the Deputy Chief of Strategic Initiatives in Dallas ISD, according to Desoto ISD.
“The Board’s hiring of Dr. Rodgers ensures that our kids’ needs are at the forefront of the district’s focus given her extensive work in shaping and preparing students for college and career readiness. As a Board, we are excited about the opportunity for Dr. Rodgers to join DeSoto ISD and lead the work of improving climate, culture, safety, and security while increasing the rigor and standards of the district in an effort to continue our work of improving student outcomes,” said DeSoto ISD Board President DeAndrea Fleming. “Dr. Rodgers has demonstrated her ability to do this work at a high level throughout her proven tenure as a teacher, campus leader, and central office administrator.”
Fort Worth ISD
On Jan. 13, 2022, Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner announced that's he is stepping down from his position. His last day will be in August 2022.
His contract officially expires on Aug. 31, 2024.
Scribner has led the district since Oct. 15, 2015.
Fort Worth ISD's board first discussed Scribner's retirement during a closed session of a Jan. 18 meeting.
Later in March, Fort Worth ISD released the district's agenda for the Board of Education Special Meeting on Tuesday, March 29.
The release said there would be a discussion about Scribner's retirement agreement and release as an employee during this meeting.
During this meeting, the board and Scribner agreed upon him officially stepping down as superintendent on August 31, 2022.
Under the board item unanimously approved by trustees, Scribner will continue to serve in an advisory capacity through February 2023.
In a joint statement released by the board and Scribner after the meeting, it read in part:
"Dr. Scribner thanks present and past trustees for providing him with the opportunity to serve the Fort Worth Independent School District. A school district is measured by the commitment of the Board, staff and community to its children and their achievements. This District is, indeed, so committed. Dr. Scribner also expresses his heartfelt appreciation to the staff and community for their support of the District's programs and services during his time as Superintendent."
During the meeting, the board also discussed legal advice that should be taken regarding a potential contract with a superintendent search firm.
Starting May 16, 2022, district leaders are going to be setting up and hosting community events to get input about what should be expected from the next superintendent. They also created an online survey that will be open until May 27, 2022.
Chapman has been in education since 1984, starting his career in San Angelo ISD before moving to Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD in 1986.
In March, the district released an announcement saying that the HEB Independent Board of Trustees named Joseph Harrington as the lone finalist for the district's superintendent position.
Harrington has spent 35 years in education. He currently serves as the district's Deputy Superintendent for Educational Operations and previously served as the school district’s Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Administration.
“Every student, teacher, and supporting employee has a unique story and pathway to success," Harrington said in the district's press release. "HEB ISD is a special place because this community believes we all have a responsibility to enable students to thrive – we truly are better together.”
Before he joined Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD in 2013, Harrington taught science and high school biology, and coached students for 16 years in three states. He eventually became an assistant principal and principal in Northwest ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.
School board president Matt Romero said Harrington is a great fit to lead the district.
“Joe understands that empowering every student to excel while maintaining our responsibilities to the local community requires strategic planning and clear communication," Romero said.
Harrington completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2011. Harrington and Jenny, his wife of 33 years, live in Euless and attend Ash Lane Methodist Church.
Little Elm ISD
Little Elm Independent School District superintendent Daniel Gallagher announced on Feb. 14, 2022, his intentions to retire from his role at the end of 2023.
Gallagher's last day as Little Elm ISD superintendent, a post he had held since 2017, is slated to come on Dec. 31 of that year -- more than 22 months after his Monday announcement date.
Little Elm ISD's Board of Trustees will begin discussing its search for Gallagher's replacement at a future meeting, a recent press release said.
As of May 10, 2022, there has been no update on the superintendent search process.
Dr. Kevin Rogers, who was named Lewisville Independent School District Superintendent of Schools in May 2015, announced in November 2021 that he was going to retire, according to a district press release.
Rogers' last day was Jan. 31, 2022. Soon after the November 2021 announcement, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees began the search for the district’s next superintendent.
On Jan. 25, 2022, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees announced it had voted unanimously to name Lori Rapp as the lone finalist for superintendent.
Rapp most recently served as Deputy Superintendent for Lewisville ISD. She also worked for the district in the roles of Chief Learning and Teaching officer, Executive Director of Learning Design and Support, Director of PreK-12 Curriculum, and classroom teacher.
All of Rapp's 26-year career in education has been in Lewisville ISD.
“The Board of Trustees is confident we have found the best candidate to continue LISD’s achievements and lead this exceptional district to new heights,” Board President Tracy Scott Miller said. “I’d like to thank the LISD staff, community and students for providing their input during our search for our next leader. It has been truly uplifting to see how engaged our stakeholders are in the future of our district.”
During her tenure in Lewisville ISD administration, Rapp helped establish the district's Programs of Choice, which includes the LISD STEM Academy at the elementary and middle school levels, the Collegiate Academy at TCHS, world language programs, the tuition-based Discovery Academy.
In the January announcement, Rogers offered his support for Rapp.
“I’ve known Dr. Rapp for many years, and there’s no question Lori has always been a natural leader,” Dr. Rogers said. “She embodies everything that makes LISD the incredible district it is today - innovative, world-class, and simply remarkable. She was a driving force behind many of the positive changes we implemented as a district during my tenure as superintendent. I heard from so many staff and community members saying they believed she had earned this opportunity, and most importantly, that she was prepared for it. She has the dedication, knowledge and heart that is so important to the LISD community, and I am thrilled to see where she takes this district next.”
On Feb. 17, 2022, Rapp spent her first day on the job meeting with the students and teachers of Lewisville ISD. Her first stop was Peter’s Colony Elementary. Rapp then traveled throughout the district to congratulate its 10 Teacher of the Year Finalists.
“I will truly remember this day for the rest of my life,” Rapp said at the end of the day. “What a special way to start off this superintendency.”
Throughout the next few months, Rapp will continue to make her way across the district meeting with campus leadership and staff, central administrators and community leaders.
Vroonland became superintendent of Mesquite ISD on July 1, 2015.
On Feb. 15, 2022, the Mesquite Independent School District announced deputy superintendent Ángel Rivera as the lone finalist for the district's top job.
Texas law requires a 21-day waiting period before Rivera can officially be named superintendent. As such, his first official day as superintendent arrived on March 8, 2022.
Rivera, an Army veteran, grew up in Boston and Puerto Rico before joining the military in 1992. After seven years of service, he moved to the Houston area, where he taught middle school science in the Pasadena Independent School District.
Rivera later moved into administration, as a principal and then as an area director for the Garland Independent School District. In 2018, he came to Mesquite as the district's Chief of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships.
Rivera has a bachelor's degree from University of Houston-Clear Lake, a master's degree from the University of St. Thomas and a doctorate of education from Stephen F. Austin State University.
The Northwest Independent School District Board of Trustees announced Jan. 13, 2022, that Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren will retire in July 2022. The board has begun the search process for his replacement.
Northwest ISD trustees said they are getting help in the search from the Mansfield law firm Leasor Crass, which is looking for candidates that meet trustees' desired traits and recommending those candidates to the school board.
On March 29, 2022, the Northwest ISD's board said it had unanimously approved Dr. David Hicks as the lone finalist to become the district’s next superintendent.
Hicks previously worked for Sherman Independent School District, which he led for the last six years. Prior to that role, he served as the area superintendent overseeing all secondary schools at Denton ISD.
In a press release, Northwest ISD said in part:
"Hicks has established a reputation of supporting students and educators with strong learning environments that collaborate with the local community. He brings experience from serving in fast-growth school districts, one of the main criteria used in the superintendent search process."
Hicks also has previous experience as a principal and assistant principal at all campus levels – elementary, middle and high school.
Additional quotes from all seven trustees and information about the search process are available at www.nisdtx.org/lonefinalist.
Bonner, who served a total of 25 years for Plano ISD in various academic roles, told the Plano ISD Board of Trustees in late January that she would be retiring as superintendent at the end of the school year in order to spend more time with family "at a critical time."
Bonser said she is working with the Board of Trustees and administration during the transition.
On Feb. 28, 2022, the district announced the Plano ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Theresa Williams as the lone finalist for the district's next Superintendent of Schools.
Then on March 21, 2022, the board then voted unanimously to officially appoint Williams as superintendent.
Williams is a career educator who has served as a teacher, school leader, district executive and deputy superintendent for two Texas school districts. As Deputy Superintendent in Plano ISD, Williams is in charge of assisting the superintendent for the district’s 73 campuses and 6,500 employees.
“I cannot think of a higher honor than being entrusted to serve the students, staff and families of Plano ISD as superintendent,” Williams said in the announcement. “I will work tirelessly, and with the highest level of integrity and commitment, for this community in order to ensure an exceptional educational experience for all students.”
Speaking on behalf of the Plano ISD Board of Trustees, President David Stolle said Williams' personal and professional story show that she is what "our community wants to see in our next leader."
"She is compassionate, student focused, of high moral character and has high expectations for student outcomes," Stolle said. "Our Board is confident we have found the right leader for Plano ISD. With her first-hand knowledge of our district and a statewide reputation for innovative leadership, we can seamlessly continue our district’s legacy of excellence for all students.”
Bonser said she supports the board’s decision and Williams' leadership.
“In addition to her knowledge of effective curriculum and instructional practices, team and talent development, and fiscal and strategic budget management, one of her standout qualities is her collaborative and visionary leadership style," Bonser said.
Williams began her educational career in Garland ISD where she taught high school Spanish. During her tenure there, she held various campus and leadership positions including director of student services and director of special programs. She went on to serve in a cabinet-level position as executive director of educational operations.
Before joining Plano ISD’s executive leadership team, Williams served four years as Lubbock ISD’s Deputy Superintendent. During her tenure there, she led the design of the district's strategic plan.
“I feel driven as an educator to ensure that students of all backgrounds feel safe and secure about who they are,” Williams said. “Students should feel welcomed, have a sense of belonging, and feel connected to school.”
Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Texas Tech University and later earned a Master of Science, Educational Leadership and Administration, and a doctorate of education from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
In 2021, Williams was announced as one of nine people nationwide to be part of the sixth cohort of the Chiefs for Change leadership development program.
Williams and her husband, Todd Williams, are the parents of two sons.
“I lead with the heart of a parent, and my sons inspire me every day to promote the quality of education and learning experiences I would expect for my own children,” she said.
State law requires a 21-day waiting period following the naming of a lone finalist before officially hiring a superintendent.
On Dec. 13, 2021, Richardson Independent School District announced in a press release the district's board had accepted the resignation of superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. The decision was made during a school board meeting.
Shortly after the board's decision, Stone was removed from the Richardson ISD website and replaced with information on the interim superintendent, Tabitha Branum.
On Jan. 20, 2022, an "Interim Superintendent Update" was posted to the Richardson ISD website. In an attached video, Branum said the district will be posting these monthly updates where she discusses what's happening in the Richardson ISD classrooms and core-content areas.
In March, the district announced trustees will plan to formally begin the search process following the results of a May 7 board election, when three expiring board seats will be on the ballot.
On May 6, 2022, Richardson ISD said it had hired the firm O’Hanlon, Demerath and Castillo to conduct a national search for a superintendent.
Through the month of May, the district said the search firm will be conducting a series of opportunities for district stakeholders to provide input into the traits and characteristics they would like to see in the next superintendent.
On June 1, 2022, the position of the superintendent will be officially posted, and the search will formally begin. The district has a goal to announce a final candidate by July 18, 2022.
And, the district was able to meet that deadline goal. On July 18, 2022, the district announced that current interim superintendent Tabitha Branum was the lone finalist for the open position.
According to the district, Branum began her classroom teaching career at Coppell ISD in 1997 and served as an assistant principal during her career.
The district said she joined Richardson ISD as an assistant superintendent of secondary instruction and operations in 2014. She then became deputy superintendent and was named interim superintendent in December 2021 after Stone's resignation.