The Fort Worth school district is once again looking for a new superintendent.
That’s because the district’s top pick no longer wants the job.
So far, the reaction has been mixed in Fort Worth.
Last month, the Fort Worth school board was unanimous in its support for Joel D. Boyd as its top pick for superintendent. They praised his infectious energy and improvements in student achievement in New Mexico.
But that support dwindled in recent days – and quickly. What happened? On Friday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that several trustees were having second thoughts about Boyd. And Trustee Ann Sutherland posted on her blog that she would vote against hiring him.
Parents, teachers and some community leaders also had doubts about the 36-year-old superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.
“Dr. Boyd deeply divided the community,” said Steven Poole, executive director of United Educators Association. “Teachers didn’t know much about him but were concerned about the level of experience he had, so I think in the long run, his decision to withdraw is going to be the best thing for FWISD.”
Poole was one of several people who spoke out against hiring Boyd at last week’s school board meeting.
“Student achievement was one of the biggest issues, what he was able to accomplish in the two years he was in Santa Fe,” Poole said. “And the number of failing schools in New Mexico and specifically in Santa Fe was a big concern.”
Sutherland wrote on her blog, that after the board interviewed him, it examined his tenure in Santa Fe. She says there was tension between Boyd and teachers there and cited numerous teacher resignations.
That isn’t what Fort Worth board trustee Jacinto Ramos saw in Boyd.
“Some may have been concerned with his age and experience,” Ramos said. “What I witnessed in the interview sessions was a gentleman who has a heck of a lot of passion and the know-how on a national level of how was going to address what was going on here in FWISD.”
Ramos said he felt strongly that Boyd would be able to help close the student achievement gap in Fort Worth and work well in a diverse community. He said he was disappointed when he and the other trustees learned Saturday via email of Boyd’s decision to withdraw. In a statement, Boyd said he was honored by the outpour of support in Santa Fe and that he wanted to continue efforts he had started.
“I was surprised that Santa Fe was able to pull out the last-minute miracle to obtain him and to keep him in Santa Fe and not surprised, because I personally believe he was that high of a caliber of a candidate,” Ramos said.
Fort Worth isn’t the only North Texas district that will be looking for a new leader. In Highland Park ISD, Dawson Orr announced Monday that he would be retiring as superintendent in August. And the Plano school board could name a lone finalist later this week.
On Monday, Fort Worth ISD Board President Norman Robbins released a statement that said the board is committed to working together to find a new superintendent. For now, Patricia Linares will continue to serve as interim superintendent.