'This is not a TV show': HISD board calls for unity as Lathan reinstated

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

HOUSTON - Members of the Houston Independent School District board again Thursday apologized for their behavior during the past week and called for unity as they voted to reinstate the previously ousted interim superintendent.

The unanimous vote came after last week’s vote to boot Grenita Lathan from the interim superintendent job and bring in former HISD Superintendent Ave Sevaadra. The decision seemed to surprise some board members and sparked a contentious debate.

However, after attending a weekend meeting with the board, Sevaadra withdrew his name from consideration. That resulted in board members apologizing for their behavior and promising to do better going forward.

At Thursday’s meeting, two board members echoed those aspirations.

“This is not a TV show,” said District 1 board member Elizabeth Santos. “The last week has seemed like a bad episode with bad actors. Some people, understandably, want us to be canceled.”

“The time for theatrics is over,” Santos added.

District III board member Sergio Lira said the board forgot what was really important – the students.

“I feel disappointed in the four days of turmoil,” Lira said. “We lost sight of why we’re here.”

Lathan has served as interim superintendent since March, when Richard Carranza left to head New York City schools.

"The simple fact that five trustees spoke to and hired a replacement interim superintendent on Thursday, and then apparently confirmed that fact at a board workshop on Sunday, indicates that this is the first major violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act," said Sen. Paul Bettencourt. "The second clearly occurred (Wednesday) when, without a posted meeting, the entire HISD board apparently announced the reversal of the last appointment and reappointed the previous interim superintendent. These superintendents are not the problem, the HISD Board of Trustees is."

"I became alarmed at the state of the HISD board as far back as discussions in Austin that Kashmere HS has been on the State's Improvements Required (IR) list for nine years, in addition to the waiver that was granted by TEA for Hurricane Harvey this year. The board's decision to fire their internal auditor was also a red flag in the face of good government," Bettencourt said. 

In addition, trustees voted April 30, 2019, as the date for the completion of the superintendent search and adopt a resolution concerning reconciliation.

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