Grenita Lathan, HISD’s chief academic officer, took over the district on an interim basis in April when Richard Carranza left the district to head New York City schools.
At Thursday night’s fiery board meeting, the board voted 5 to 4 to replace Lathan with Abe Saavedra as interim superintendent. Saavedra served as HISD superintendent from 2004 to 2010.
Saavedra, who district leaders said is not interested in returning to the permanent position, will serve a six-month term as interim superintendent starting Monday. That will be followed by month-to-month terms.
Some parents said that Thursday’s school board meeting left them with little trust in the board. Some who watched the exchange say the abrupt swap and discord among the board sends the wrong message to students and future superintendent candidates.
“A lot of animosity, no unity, prejudice, racism amongst the board members,” said Koffey Smith, one of the parents at the meeting. So, a lot of them (were) exposing what they felt about each other.”
“You had a council member come to the board meeting tonight, and say that it’s 62 percent of students in the district that are Hispanic, which is true. Therefore we should have Latino leadership. They have been screaming Latino leaderships since Carranza,” HISD board member Wanda Adams said.
Adams also said that she believed the move was rooted in racism, and called for the state to come in and takeover.
“This board has opened my eyes to what race really is. This board is racial. So, now we are under the cloud of a takeover,” Adams said.
For the last four years, Saavedra has served as superintendent of South San Antonio Independent School District.
From 1993 to 2000, he served as superintendent of Corpus Christi schools before joining HISD as superintendent of the East District in Feb. 2001.
He was the first Hispanic American superintendent of HISD.
Lathan was appointed as interim superintendent on March 22, 2018, after the departure of superintendent Richard Carranza, who left to become New York City’s chancellor of schools.
Dr. Lathan’s appointment came in the midst of a budget crisis in HISD, requiring cuts to staff and spending. She will now go back to being chief academic officer.
This article originally appeared in the Defender News Network.