Since November 2021, a total of nine superintendents have resigned or retired from North Texas ISDs, some of them amid controversy.
Michael Hinojosa (Dallas ISD), Jeannie Stone (Richardson ISD), Kent Scribner (Fort Worth ISD), David Vroonland (Mesquite ISD), Dr. Ryder Warren (Northwest ISD), Steve Chapman (Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD), Kevin Rogers (Lewisville ISD), Sara Bonser (Plano ISD), and D’Andre Weaver (DeSoto ISD) have all left or announced plans to leave their superintendent positions.
Richardson ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone’s resignation was unanimously accepted by the school board, who stated in a press release that the resignation was in the “best interests” of Stone, the board, and the district. However, she will remain with the district to assist the interim superintendent for a period.
Stone often had disagreements with the board and parents about mask-wearing rules as well as “inclusion and education disparity issues.”
Sherry Clemens, whose 13-year-old daughter attends a school in the Richardson ISD District, spoke to the Board of Trustees on September 20, 2021, about the sexual content in schoolbooks. Specifically, she complained about the book Everybody Sees Ants, where a section depicts a boy being gang-raped in a locker room.
“There’s no approved book list, and teachers are given full autonomy as to what books they select,” she told the board. “How can every teacher be responsible to know the appropriateness of every book?”
Not only has curriculum been an issue between parents and faculty, but the district’s handling of COVID-19 requirements has sparked controversy as well, especially regarding mask mandates.
Richardson ISD announced that masks would be required, while a vocal group of parents opposed strict COVID-19 protocols. They accused the district of breaking the law by continuing to require masks.
However, it should be noted that not all favored Stone’s resignation. An online petition in support of Stone received thousands of signatures.
Plano ISD has faced criticism over what some have seen as insufficient COVID protocols. Members of the Facebook group Plano ISD Parents and Senior High School Students Concerned About Covid are fighting for more robust COVID safety measures.
Carmen Campbell, the parent of a student in the district, emailed the entire school board, including Superintendent Sara Bonser, pushing for a mask mandate and stricter protocols. “Omicron is an incredibly contagious, airborne virus,” she wrote. “Every lunch has the potential to become a super-spreader event. Lunch outside would be safest.”
In December 2021, parents clashed with the Fort Worth ISD school board, calling for the board and Superintendent Kent Scribner to step down. Scribner has announced that he will step down when his contract is up.
The topic of debate was the fact that a training course in critical race theory (CRT) had been offered to teachers, even though the state legislature made teaching critical race theory to students illegal during the last session.
“Critical race theory has been banned thanks to SB 3,” said activist Carlos Turcios, who found the school district had recently given teachers a course on CRT.
Critical race theory has been at the center of many debates between parents and school boards within the past couple of years. The Texas law says that a teacher cannot “require or make part of a course” a series of certain race-related concepts; this list includes the prohibition of teaching the idea that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that someone is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” based on their race or sex.
In June 2021, the Fort Worth ISD school board heard from parents concerned that schools were getting into divisive politics with their children and those who urged the district to make education more equitable for students of color.
These are only a few examples of the controversy and criticism that school officials face on a regular basis.
Kevin Brown, the executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators, believes that politics are definitely a factor in the many recent resignations, and says that “People are exhausted. It’s becoming more difficult to focus on what’s right for the children.”
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa echoed that view, saying of his colleagues: “I have friends that tell me about this job – ‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ It is wearing people down.”
Hinojosa left behind what some would say was a legacy of broken schools.
Ndure Cain, President of Dallas Justice Now, said, “According to the Texas Education Agency, Dallas ISD spends $14,981 per student annually while Highland Park ISD spends an average of $15,080 per student annually. This is a difference of $99 per year per student. Does Mr. Hinojosa think communities of color are so stupid to believe that $99 per student per year is the difference between an “A+” school and a “D” school?”
There are currently fifty-five vacancies for school superintendents across Texas public schools.