Highland Park Independent School District’s (HISD) Board of Trustees updated the community Tuesday, saying it expects to have a finalist for the position of superintendent by April.
Superintendent Tom Trigg, who has held the position since July 2015, announced his retirement at a Board of Trustees meeting on October 12, 2022, promising to stay on until a new superintendent could be found.
“I certainly have appreciated the opportunities the last seven-and-a-half years have provided, and I really do look forward to the remainder of this year and continuing working with my colleagues and you as community members,” Trigg said at the time.
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was hired in November to help with the search for a new superintendent and presented its findings to the Board of Trustees at the December 2022 meeting. The choice drew criticism from parents at the time, with Spencer Siino alleging that the firm’s website is highly politicized and “makes no mention of academic achievement, college placement, parental rights, or teacher empowerment.”
Trustee Doug Woodward explained that 85 names were gathered in the search for the superintendent position. Of those, 22 have either applied or are pending.
“Interviews will take place in March,” Woodward said. “By April, there will be a finalist.”
Woodward said that the names of the candidates for superintendent will remain confidential “for their safety.”
“We will not be announcing publicly the finalists we’ll choose,” he said.
Tammy Kuykendall, interim director of communications, told The Dallas Express that keeping the names confidential was “standard practice.”
“They may not be at a place where they’re ready to share with someone else that they’re interested,” Kuykendall said. “The community took a lot of time and energy meeting with the firm that was hired to conduct our (interviews), 300 individuals provided comments in person, and then 1,700 supplied some information through our online survey that they conducted.”
The results of the survey conducted showed that “maximizing opportunities for increasing staff compensation in support of the retention and recruitment of top quality teachers” and improving academic performance were at the top of the list of what HPISD members were looking for in a new superintendent.
Other concerns included paying closer attention to student and staff’s mental health, increasing the financial security of the district as a whole, and improving accountability systems for staff, among other concerns.
There was also concern about allegedly “progressive” or “woke” educators teaching at HPISD, suggesting that teachers should be apolitical in their teaching methods.
Trigg declined to comment to The Dallas Express except to direct questions about the superintendent search process to Kuykendall.
Highland Park ISD boasts a 100% graduation rate, significantly higher than the 81.1% four-year graduation rate shown by nearby Dallas ISD.