Austin ISD will post superintendent job instead of conducting a national search
The Austin Independent School District is scrapping previous plans for a nationwide search to find a permanent superintendent. The Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to post the job starting Friday.
School boards have the power to hire and fire superintendents, and Austin ISD Board President Arati Singh said when boards want to find someone for a school district’s top job, they have a couple of options.
“One option is to conduct a full national search which takes several months,” Singh said. “Another option is to post the permanent superintendent position now if it seems a full national search with a search firm is not necessary.”
Singh added that boards normally choose the second option when they have a strong internal candidate. In this case, that would be interim Superintendent Matias Segura. He started the job in January after previously serving as the district's chief of operations. In that role, he helped craft the historic $2.44 billion bond package voters overwhelmingly approved in 2022.
While Segura became interim superintendent in the wake of a successful school bond election, Austin ISD was dealing with significant challenges. One challenge was turnover in the district’s top role. Segura was the district’s second interim superintendent in less than a year after the previous interim, Anthony Mays, got a permanent job at a school district in Houston.
The school board also tasked Segura with getting special education services back on track.
Austin ISD was facing a state investigation into long-standing problems with its special education department, including a major backlog of evaluations that determine whether students have disabilities and which services they’re entitled to if they do. The ongoing backlog and other issues prompted the Texas Education Agency to propose a special education conservatorship before offering an alternative, less severe form of state intervention. The Austin ISD school board voted to approve the corrective action plan in September, to avoid an immediate conservatorship.
Last month, the district met one of the first key requirements to complete certain overdue special education evaluations. The state plan requires the district to meet a variety of milestones over the next several years to ensure students with disabilities' legal rights are being met.
Singh said community and staff meetings the board held on a potential superintendent search revealed people were looking for, among other things, consistency.
“There was an overwhelming message of wanting stability, a focus on strengthening systems to improve student outcomes and wanting someone with a demonstrated commitment to Austin ISD,” she said. “Many people specifically asked for our current interim to be named as the permanent superintendent.”
The Austin ISD school board’s decision to post the permanent superintendent job comes about eight months after trustees paused a previous search process in March. They opted instead to extend Segura’s current contract through June 30, 2024.
“To be clear, when we extended Matias Segura’s contract in March there was no provision barring him from applying for the permanent position,” Singh said. “So, although we have a strong internal candidate we are committed to considering every application that is received.”
Austin ISD will accept applications for the permanent superintendent job until 5 p.m. on Dec. 7. That same day, the school board will meet in executive session to review candidates.