TEXAS, USA — As parents and teachers across the country continue to try and find the balance of dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic and sending students into the classroom, many are having to deal with a shift in their district's leadership team.
North Texas is in the middle of its own transition period. Since November 2021, 10 superintendents from 10 local school districts have announced they are leaving, resigning or retiring from their leadership positions. Three happened on the same day -- Jan. 13, 2022.
These 10 superintendents include:
- Little Elm ISD superintendent Daniel Gallagher (announced Feb. 14, 2022)
- Plano ISD superintendent Sara Bonser (announced Jan. 26, 2022)
- Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Fort Worth ISD superintendent Kent Scribner (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Northwest ISD Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren (announced Jan. 13, 2022)
- Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Superintendent Steve Chapman (announced Dec. 14, 2021)
- Richardson ISD superintendent Jeannie Stone (announced Dec. 13, 2021)
- Mesquite ISD Superintendent David Vroonland (announced Dec. 13, 2021)
- DeSoto ISD Superintendent D'Andre Weaver (announced Nov. 15, 2021)
- Lewisville ISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers (announced Nov. 2, 2021)
Several North Texas school boards have also recently met to discuss COVID policies and teacher retention. Some districts have asked parents to volunteer to cover classes because of extreme substitute teacher shortages.
Little Elm ISD
Little Elm Independent School District superintendent Daniel Gallagher announced on Monday his intentions to retire from his role at the end of 2023.
Gallagher's last day as Little Elm ISD superintendent, a post he had held since 2017, is slated to come on Dec. 31 of that year -- more than 22 months after his Monday announcement date.
With the announcement, Gallagher becomes the 10th North Texas superintendent to announce plans to step down from his or her role since November 2021.
A press release issued on Monday said that Gallagher would remain in place in his role in Little Elm -- located some 30 miles north of Dallas -- in the meantime "in order to assist the Board of Trustees with the transition of leadership."
"I wanted to announce my plans early to allow for our Board of Trustees to begin the planning process of hiring the next superintendent to lead this wonderful district," Gallagher said in the press release. "I am very proud of the work we have accomplished... and [I] look forward to assisting our Board of Trustees with a transition plan."
Little Elm ISD's Board of Trustees will begin discussing its search for Gallagher's replacement at a future meeting, the press release said.
The release also quoted Little Elm ISD Board of Trustees president David Montemayor as praising Gallagher and applauding "his ability to build a strong culture of collaboration both within the District and between the District and the community."
"[We] highly value the progress made in our District under Superintendent Gallagher’s leadership," Montemayor said in the press release. "Gallagher has been a tireless visionary for Little Elm ISD since becoming the Superintendent. Along with the Board, Gallagher has focused Little Elm ISD and its stakeholders on providing opportunities that align with our mission to Engage, Equip and Empower each student to realize their full potential. This vision culminated in the single focused goal for all of our students to achieve success beyond high school graduation.”
For all the praise Montemayor showered Gallagher with in Monday's press release -- the letter further congratulated the soon-to-be-outgoing superintendent on opening two middle schools, along with various new athletic and operations facilities, plus more -- controversies at Little Elm High School have kept Little Elm ISD in headlines in recent months.
In November, a student protest over frustrations with how administrators were handling allegations of on-campus sexual assaults devolved into chaos that led to the arrests of four students and saw videos circulating on social media showing police using pepper spray and tasers on students.
In a joint video statement that followed that incident, Gallagher and Little Elm mayor Curtis Cornelius blamed "misinformation" among the student body and the "crimes" of a few students -- including one student allegedly spitting on an officer -- for the police's heavy-handed response.
Public listening sessions between parents and administrators, a whole lot of angry finger-pointing and an internal investigation that found Little Elm ISD's response to claims of on-campus discrimination and Title IX violations were "not a systematic failure" followed.
Plano superintendent Sara Bonser is retiring from her role with the district, according to a press release sent out on Jan. 26, 2022.
Bonner, who served a total of 25 years for Plano ISD in various academic roles, told the Plano ISD Board of Trustees in late January that she would be retiring as superintendent at the end of the school year in order to spend more time with family "at a critical time."
“Balancing work and family has always been important to me, but never more so than now that my sister is dealing with a critical illness,” Bonser said in the press release. “Retiring will allow me the opportunity to help and support my family.”
The board is expected to officially accept Bonser’s resignation at an emergency-called meeting when they will also figure out the district’s process for selecting the next Plano ISD superintendent.
Bonser has spent a total of 33 years in public education, some of which included working for Rockwall ISD as chief academic officer, chief administrative officer, assistant superintendent for student and family services, and director of student and family services.
Bonser has lived in Plano for the past 30 years.
In the press release announcing her plans, Plano ISD Board of Trustees president David Stolle said the board will accept Bonser's resignation "with great reluctance," but that the board's members understand her family's current situation.
“Plano ISD has greatly benefited from Sara’s results-driven leadership and passion for student success," Stolle said. "She will be missed tremendously by this board, the staff and the community.”
Stolle added that he believes the district remains in capable hands in large part because of Bonser's "expertise in building teams, expanding capacity and developing talent.”
“I am proud to have served alongside the most hardworking, brilliant and committed staff in the region, state and nation,” Bonser also said in the press release. “Their dedication to providing an outstanding education to the children within Plano ISD, preparing them for college and careers, is unparalleled.”
Bonser said she will work with the Board of Trustees and administration during the transition.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is stepping down from the position after more than six years, according to a district press release sent out Jan. 13, 2022.
Hinojosa, who will leave in December 2022, spent 42 years in public education and 13 years with Dallas ISD overall. He had positions as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, central office staff member, and superintendent for five different districts in both Texas and Georgia.
Hinojosa said he has had talks with the board and that they knew he couldn't be superintendent for another 10 years.
"I think it was just a good time for us to do this," Hinojosa said. "I did warn the board that being a lame duck is no fun. But I also told them, 'I may be a lame duck, but I'm not a dead duck,' so people better listen to me because we have to get a lot of things done for kids."
The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees will begin a national superintendent search and outline details of the official process in the coming weeks.
“Dallas ISD and the Dallas Mavericks have made it a point to leverage our collective influence to improve our city in numerous ways, including during some of our most challenging times," Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall said in a press release. "I’ve been blessed to have Dr. Hinojosa as my partner in this effort, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
During his tenure as superintendent for Dallas ISD, the district highlighted some of Hinojosa's accomplishments which included creating a universal curriculum, expanding dual-language programs and creating four career institutes
Hinojosa said there is still a lot of work to do with the district's procurement department, which is the office responsible for buying materials, supplies and services for teachers and students and staff.
"That's something that I've just struggled to fix," Hinojosa said.
The success and support of Black students in the district is also something Hinojosa said also needs to be improved and the next superintendent should work on.
"We've made progress," Hinojosa said. "We're moving better than the state, but we're still behind."
Hinojosa served an initial term as superintendent in Dallas ISD from 2005-2011 before he returned as interim superintendent in 2015. The Board of Trustees formally approved his second term in October 2015.
“Dr. Hinojosa came to do a job, and he accomplished it," Sen. Royce West also said in a press release. "He steered Dallas ISD through calm, choppy and yes, even treacherous waters and never lost site of the value of a good education. He will be remembered for his exhaustive work to ensure every Dallas ISD student receives the quality education they deserve. His efforts will live on in perpetuity as students and their families reap the benefits of his leadership for years to come.”
Fort Worth ISD
Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner announced on Jan. 13, 2022, he is stepping down from his position when his current contract is up.
Scribner tweeted that he informed the the district's Board of Trustees last month of his plans and a district press release said he officially informed them on Dec. 16, 2021. His contract officially expires on Aug. 31, 2024.
Scribner has led the district since Oct. 15, 2015.
Fort Worth ISD serves about 76,000 students and stands as one of the largest in the state.
Scribner effectively communicated with the board and was transparent through this process, according to Fort Worth ISD Board of Education President Tobi Jackson.
“Among his many accomplishments, we especially applaud his leadership in transforming our secondary schools with collaborative spaces and modern, career-focused classrooms that will benefit students for decades to come," Scribner said. "That is an outstanding legacy.”
The board is scheduled to discuss the superintendent’s plans to retire at a Jan. 18 Special Meeting Executive Session.
Scribner worked in education for more than 30 years and was a superintendent for 20 years. During his tenure with Fort Worth ISD, the district saw a 12-point gain in its state accountability rating, the press release said.
Before coming to Fort Worth ISD, Scribner served as superintendent in Phoenix. He began his education career as a high school Spanish teacher and guidance counselor in Philadelphia. He then became a principal and a central office administrator before serving as superintendent.
The Northwest Independent School District Board of Trustees announced Jan. 13, 2022, that Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren will retire in July 2022. The board has begun the search process for his replacement.
Northwest ISD trustees said they will determine candidates for the position with help from Mansfield law firm Leasor Crass, which will search for candidates that meet trustees' desired traits and recommend those candidates to the school board.
Once candidates are selected, trustees will interview each candidate before selecting a finalist, the district said. After someone is selected, a state-mandated 21-day waiting period will begin before trustees can officially offer him or her the job.
The district said Northwest ISD families can expect additional communication about the search process in the coming weeks and months.
Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District Superintendent Steve Chapman sent out a press release on Dec. 14, 2021, that said he would be retiring at the end of the school year.
Chapman has been in education since 1984, starting his career in San Angelo ISD before moving to HEB ISD in 1986. His first jobs with the district were teaching at Hurst Junior High School and then two years at Trinity High School.
In 2013, Chapman became HEB ISD Superintendent.
Chapman said while the district has challenges to deal with moving forward, they will bring about new opportunities along with them. He also said while he is moving away from his full-time position, he will still be a "champion and cheerleader" for HEB ISD students.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students and parents of this wonderful school district for the past thirty-two years," Chapman said in the press release. "During my three decades in the district, I have had the opportunity to work with students and families in a variety of capacities from classroom teacher to superintendent of schools. Each step in my HEB ISD journey allowed me the opportunity see the talent, creativity, and curiosity that children bring to the educational process. When students are given the necessary tools and support, the possibilities for how high they can soar are limitless. A quality education is truly the key to each student’s future!"
On Dec. 13, 2021, Richardson Independent School District announced in a press release the district's board had accepted the resignation of superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. The decision was made during a school board meeting.
During the pandemic, members of the school board and public had disagreements with Stone about COVID-19 precautions and mask-wearing rules as well as issues related to equity and inclusion programs.
In a joint statement with the board, Stone said she "thanks the present and past board of trustees for providing her with the opportunity to serve in the Richardson Independent School District and…her heartfelt appreciation to the staff and community for their support of the district’s programs and services during her term as superintendent."
Shortly after the board's decision, Stone was removed from the Richardson ISD website and replaced with information on the interim superintendent, Tabitha Branum.
Stone was Texas Superintendent of the Year three years ago.
Update: Deputy superintendent Angel Rivera has been named the lone finalist for the Mesquite ISD superintendent position. Read more here.
Mesquite ISD Superintendent Dr. David Vroonland announced he would retire from his position on June 30, 2022, according to a district press release from Dec. 13, 2021.
“It has been an honor and a blessing to lead this district for the last seven years,” Vroonland said in a press release. “I want to thank our community and the Board for their trust and support. We have been through a lot together, and I am so proud of all we have accomplished for the children of Mesquite.”
Vroonland became superintendent of Mesquite ISD on July 1, 2015. He has been in education for more than 30 years, starting his career in 1986 as a teacher and coach in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.
In 1991, he accepted a similar position at DuVal High School in Lanham, Md., followed by two and a half years as a coach and teacher in Akishima, Japan. In 1995, Vroonland returned to Texas to teach and coach at McNeil Junior High School in Wichita Falls ISD.
From 1999-2006, Vroonland held different administrative positions for many Texas school districts.
The DeSoto Independent School District Superintendent D'Andre Weaver submitted his resignation on November 2021, and the school Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept it during a November board meeting.
Desoto ISD provided more details in December on what the superintendent search process would look like for the district's board.
The district later announced the board voted to approve Dr. Larry Lewis as interim superintendent during a special called meeting on Dec. 15, 2021.
It was unclear why Weaver resigned. In September 2020, Weaver resigned from the district but said he didn't want to resign and that the board "railroaded" him to do so. Then a few days later, the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rescind his resignation in an emergency meeting.
"As a board, we are intent on getting back to work so that we can shift the focus from adult issues back to what really matters, and that is our students," Board President DeAndrea Fleming said.
A TEA audit of the district's finances released in October of 2021 showed the district mismanaged finances. The audit accuses district leaders of fraud, waste, and abuse in instances that occurred before Weaver was hired in 2018 under Superintendent David Harris.
The mismanagement led to a $21.6 million budget shortfall for the district.
Dr. Kevin Rogers, who was named Lewisville Independent School District Superintendent of Schools in May 2015, announced in November 2021 that he was going to retire, according to a district press release.
Rogers' last day will be Jan. 31, 2022. The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees will soon begin the search for the district’s next superintendent, the press release said.
Rogers has been with Lewisville ISD his entire public education career for 36 years. He spent five years working for the Texas Department of Mental Health before joining Lewisville ISD in 1986 as a teacher and coach. He served as an assistant principal, principal and district administrator before being named superintendent.
“It has truly been my honor to serve LISD for my entire career in public education, but especially the last seven years as superintendent,” Rogers said in a press release. “Education is first and foremost about serving our students and staff, and I believe LISD has the best students and staff in the country. LISD has always been an incredible district, and I am grateful I was given the privilege to try and make it an even better place than it was when I started. And I think we did that, thanks to the tremendous support of our students, staff, parents and the communities we serve.”
Board of Trustees President Tracy Scott Miller said she he thankful for what Rogers has done for the district.
“I have known Dr. Rogers for a very long time, and there is no way we could ever thank him enough for the impact he has had on our district,” Miller said. “He is a man of integrity, and every decision he made was always about what was best for our students and staff.”
Editors Note: This article has been updated since its initial publication to include Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD superintendent Steve Chapman's and Plano ISD superintendent Sara Bonser's retirement announcements.