Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
The South San Antonio Independent School District board is likely to offer Superintendent Alexandro Flores a buyout, effectively ending his employment with South San less than a year from his hiring, according to an agenda posted Friday evening.
The board plans to discuss “the superintendent’s resignation and separation agreement” and “the appointment of an interim superintendent,” on Tuesday, according to the agenda.
The relationship between the board majority and Flores had soured in recent months stemming from the majority’s plan to reopen three campuses in a short time frame. Flores recommended against the reopenings, asking the board for more time to flesh out a more comprehensive plan.
The majority, which includes board president Connie Prado and trustees Gilbert Rodriguez, Homer Flores, and Shirley Ibarra Pena, disregarded Flores’ concerns, voted to proceed, and appropriated $6 million to fund Athens Elementary, Kazen Middle, and West Campus High School’s reopening in time for the 2019-20 school year. About 460 students have so far enrolled at the campuses.
Prado previously declined to comment on the board’s relationship with Flores, but has been a frequent critic of the administration. In meetings, she and members of the board majority have openly disparaged the superintendent and his staff.
The agendas in seven of the last nine meetings included discussions evaluating Flores, a trustee complaint against Flores, and concerns about Flores’ contract. All of these discussions happened in closed session and Prado declined to provide any details, calling it a personnel matter.
At Thursday night’s board meeting, Prado made a presentation that included enrollment numbers, financial information, and a lengthy list of questions about why the reopenings of the three campuses were not more successful. She focused on why enrollment at West Campus was so low – 57 students.
“If I was a West Campus parent or taxpayer, I would not be happy at all,” Prado said. “In my heart of hearts, I truly know why West Campus failed and I know who is responsible but I’m not going to go there. I believe there was just not effort there to get it open for the 195 kids [from Shepard Middle School] that we have.”
Rodriguez, whose district includes West Campus High School, called the outcome of the reopening effort an injustice.
Superintendent Flores declined to comment.
The Texas Education Agency is currently investigating South San ISD for concerns of dysfunctional board governance.
In a letter sent to South San on April 18, Jason Hewitt, the director of the TEA Special Investigations Unit, said the TEA decided to open the investigation in response to multiple complaints the board was acting outside its authority by directing district administrators on day-to-day operations and impeding the superintendent’s duties.
The investigation is ongoing. TEA Monitor Laurie Elliott, who watches board meetings and reports to the State education agency on board behavior, renewed calls for the appointment of a conservator in her July report. A conservator has the power to override board votes.
The State previously appointed a conservator to oversee the district in 2016 to oversee governance and finances. TEA pulled the conservator in early 2018 because the agency had confidence in the district’s progress.
Flores was hired in September 2018 as a replacement to Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra. Saavedra came out of retirement to lead the district in 2014, becoming the fifth person to lead the district in three years at that time.
Flores previously served as the superintendent of Palacios ISD, between Corpus Christi and Galveston, and interim superintendent of Natalia ISD, southwest of San Antonio. During Flores’ time in South San, the district’s five schools that were rated “improvement required” by the State gained a passing grade. One school was graded an F in the most recent accountability scores.