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Austin ISD’s interim superintendent is leaving for a school district in Houston

Dr. Anthony Mays walks with the McCallum High School marching band as they perform in the hallways of the school.
Renee Dominguez
/
KUT
Austin ISD interim Superintendent Anthony Mays walks with the McCallum High School marching band as they perform in the hallways.

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Austin ISD's interim Superintendent Anthony Mays is leaving the district for a permanent position in the Houston area. The Alief ISD board of trustees has announced that Mays is the lone finalist to be the next superintendent of the district, which is located in Southwest Harris County.

Alief Board President Ann Williams said in a news release that trustees were excited about Mays joining the district.

“We are confident that he is the perfect candidate to serve as the district’s next leader,” Williams said. “He is a proven leader and advocate for public education."

Mays announced the decision in an email to Austin ISD families Thursday morning. He said he was thankful for the opportunity to be interim superintendent but could not miss out on this role.

“The chance to lead a district while putting down roots for a long-term partnership was something our family could not pass up,” he said.

The announcement comes just two days after voters approved a $2.44 billion bond and elected four new members to the Austin school board.

Mays plans to finish out the current semester with Austin ISD before starting with Alief in January. He has been Austin’s interim superintendent since June and had expressed interest in applying for the permanent role. The school board chose Mays for the interim role after Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde left to lead Dallas ISD after nearly two years in Austin. Before becoming interim superintendent, Mays had been AISD’s chief of schools.

Trustees are meeting Tuesday to discuss a transition plan for an interim superintendent. While they won't be sworn in until December, the newly elected board members will be invited to attend.

Once the interim position is filled, the next priority is hiring a permanent superintendent. The Austin ISD school board is expected to start the search process for a new permanent superintendent in 2023. Trustees had previously planned to request proposals for a superintendent search firm in January with the goal of selecting and hiring someone for the role by the summer.

The head of a union representing Austin ISD employees said he hopes the selection process for a new superintendent will be transparent.

"Any superintendent search in the Austin Independent School District must, at the very minimum at the end of it, say the three finalists," said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin.

Normally, only the lone finalist is made public. But Zarifis said it is important for Austin ISD to get community input on the superintendent candidates, especially after voters approved the largest bond in district history and elected new, progressive school board members.

"That means you've got to listen to the community. They're giving you money and they're sending the best of candidates to that school board. Therefore, they must be aware of who may lead this school district," he said. "They must be respected and given the respect of an open and public process."

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Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at rfogel@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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