Houston Independent School District
Interim Houston Supt. Grenita Lathqn
Interim Houston Supt. Grenita Lathqn
Interim Houston Supt. Grenita Lathqn
Interim Houston Supt. Grenita Lathqn
Interim Houston Supt. Grenita Lathqn

Houston board reverses course as choice for interim superintendent withdraws

Oct. 16, 2018
Last week's decision to remove one interim leader in favor of another has been met with anger and disapproval.

The Houston school board has scheduled a meeting for later this week to rescind its vote to install Abelardo Saavedra as the district's interim superintendent.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the board is expected to reinstate Grenita Lathan as the district's temporary leader. The board voted just four days ago to remove Lathan in favor of Saavedra, a former Houston district superintendent.

Saavedra announced Sunday that he would not become the district's interim leader.

"It became apparent to me that the dysfunction is not at the superintendent or leadership level, it's at the board level," Saavedra says.

Board members held a news conference Monday afternoon in which they apologized for their actions in recent months, The Houston Chronicle reports, specifically last week's meeting when a faction of the board acted without advance notice to replace Lathan as the interim superintendent.

“Our actions have not modeled the behavior we desire to instill in our children that we serve,” board member Diana Dávila said. “We sincerely apologize to all of you.”

The board members said they would vote to reinstate Lathan as superintendent.

Board members had voted 5 to 4 on Thursday to hire Saavedra to replace Lathan, who has been interim superintendent since March.

In the days leading up to the meeting, five of the board's nine members privately communicated with Saavedra about taking over as interim superintendent without informing the board's other four trustees or members of the public. The group of four trustees includes all three of the board's black trustees, who have voiced support for Lathan in the past.

Dávila had introduced the motion last week Thursday to appoint Saavedra, drawing support from the board's three other Latino trustees and Trustee Anne Sung.

The board's action drew immediate condemnation from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, many black civic leaders, and others who felt the vote illustrated dysfunction.

Lathan, was serving as the district's chief academic officer when she was appointed interim superintendent. The position became open after Richard Carranza abruptly left the district in March to become chancellor of New York City public schools.. 

The board has scheduled a meeting for later this week, when it is expected to rescind Saavedra's appointment and re-affirm Lathan's role as interim superintendent.

In addition, the board is expected to consider whether to hire an executive coach for board members and Lathan.

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