The Houston school board has formally voted to reinstate Grenita Lathan as interim superintendent and take steps toward repairing board members' fractured relationship after a meeting last week marred by personal attacks and a covert move to replace Lathan.
The Houston Chronicle reports that board members voted 9-0 to rescind last week's deicsion to demote Lathan back to chief academic officer and hire former Houstin superintendent Abelardo Saavedra as interim leader. Trustees also voted to set an April 2019 target date for completing the search for a new superintendent; explore hiring an executive coach; and request a new state-appointed governance monitor.
Board members received widespread criticism for their actions at their Oct. 11 meeting. Trustee Diana Dávila surprised some of her colleagues by making a motion to remove Lathan from her position and temporarily replace her with Saavedra, who led HISD from 2004 to 2009.
Those supporting Saavedra had given no public indication prior to the vote that they were looking to remove Lathan.
Three trustees said they wanted to remove Lathan to ensure potential permanent candidates did not have to compete with an incumbent interim for the superintendent position. However, Saavedra said trustees approached him about replacing Lathan because they felt Lathan had become unresponsive to their priorities and input.
The move prompted immediate backlash from many black civic leaders, along with community members who believed board members should not have secretly coordinated to hire Saavedra. On Sunday, two days after the vote, Saavedra announced he no longer intended to accept the position.
Lathan will continue indefinitely in her position as the district begins its search for a permanent leader.
In their “reconciliation” resolution, board members agreed to respect one another, engage in team-building and work with an executive coach.