Houston ISD Trustees Make It Official and Put Grenita Lathan Back in Charge

Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones presided over Thursday's special meeting.
Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones presided over Thursday's special meeting. HISD TV

As expected, Houston ISD trustees officially and unanimously took back their hiring of former Superintendent Abe Saavedra and demotion of Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan at a special 8 a.m. meeting today.

A couple of the trustees couldn't resist getting a few last licks. Elizabeth Santos read from a speech she'd written. "This is not a TV show. We are not heroes or villains navigating our way through dramatic twists and turns. We are trustees."

"The last week has seemed like a bad episode with bad actors. Some people understandably want us to be canceled. The theatrics distracted us and prevented us from carrying out what was the right thing to do. The time for theatrics is over. We must put everything else aside and focus on doing the work we were elected to do."

She then referred to the long time it is taking them to find a permanent superintendent, a performance audi that she says should have already happened, and the district pay raise for teachers that did not include support staff. 

"Our failure to live up to our constituents' expectations in these areas have harmed our students," she said. "Until we all commit to working together to put our students above our individual personal interests it won't matter who sits in the center chair and it won't matter who stars in the show. At this point we have no choice but to move forward.

She urged everyone listening to the meeting to continue to watch what the board does. "Above all, watch our votes. They tell stories that are more truthful than the ones that we tell with our words."

"We lost sight of why we're here," said trustee Sergio Lira.  "I'm a little disappointed in some of the biased reporting. Some things are sensationalized and the fact that some members, not all, are trying to lose sight of the fact that we're here for student achievement.

Without discussion, the board voted as expected to submit a request to the Texas ducation Agency to get its appointed governance conservator changed, to set an end date for the superintendent search, to adopt a reconciliation resolution and to hire an executive coach for Lanthan as well as one for the board.
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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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