The Mariachi Superintendent Dumps HISD, Heads for New York City

Hello and goodbye.
Hello and goodbye. Photo courtesy of the Houston Independent School District

Richard, we hardly knew ya.

Richard Carranza who has only been superintendent of the Houston Independent School District since August 2016, is leaving Houston and heading for New York City to be the chancellor of the public schools there.

He leaves behind a cash-strapped district, threatened with state takeover action because of some of its schools which have failed to meet standards for years and a district  in a certain amount of turmoil in no small part because of extensive changes his administration proposed to magnet programs and funding in the district.

Board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones issued a standard this-too-shall-pass and we're-on-it memo on behalf of the school board but it doesn't take an intense knowledge of school district operations to figure out the the HISD trustees must be wondering what happens next.

“We the Board wish Carranza the best in his endeavors and appreciate the leadership he brought to this district. “We are committed to continuing the work he began and moving the district forward."

The board will meet Thursday to begin discussions.

According to accounts in the New York media, the bilingual Carranza was one of two finalists and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opted for the other one: Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. At the last minute, however, and in a public meeting filled with people begging him to stay, Carvalho famously turned down the new job and said he'd stick with Miami.

This opened up the spot for Carranza again. He and his wife even appeared on television as de Blasio named his new pick. He will make the same $345,000 a year in New York City (which won't go as far but hey) as he did here. He signed on for a three-year contract in Houston, but that doesn't seem to mean much in superintendent circles.

Carranza came to Houston from the San Francisco Unified School District where he was superintendent for four years. In the HISD announcement he thanked HISD for hiring him.

“It has been an honor and privilege to have served the students of the Houston Independent School District and bring a voice to communities that have historically been underserved,” Carranza said. “It is with a heavy heart that I announce my departure as I embark on this new journey. I am looking forward to the opportunity of serving the 1.1 million students in New York City. I am forever grateful to the people of Houston for allowing me to be a part of this great city.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner also weighed in with the news:

"I received phone calls today from Richard Carranza and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. I wished the superintendent well, and I told Mayor de Blasio that I believe he is getting a very capable superintendent. Now, we must focus on HISD’s situation.

“HISD is our largest school district not only in the city but also in the state, and it’s important for its trustees to put in place a very capable interim leader as we navigate through the challenges the district is facing. It’s clear the city cannot move forward unless our school districts are moving forward and providing a quality education to all our children. I will be glad to work closely with the interim superintendent as well as the board to make sure we are doing the very best for our schools, our children and the people in the city of Houston.”

So one more time, we'll call this his swan song:

Update 5:55 a.m. March 6, 2018: HISD trustees will not wait till Thursday but will meet in closed session today at 11 a.m. which will be followed by a noon press conference to answer questions from the media.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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