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Austin ISD names interim Superintendent Matias Segura as lone finalist for permanent job

Interim Superintendent Matias Segura is seen shaking hands with a sixth grader during the Gus Garcia Tie Ceremony on Aug. 22, 2023.
Patricia Lim
Interim Superintendent Matias Segura shakes hands with a sixth grader hand during the Gus Garcia Tie Ceremony on Aug. 22.

The school board for the Austin Independent School District unanimously voted to name Matias Segura as the lone finalist for permanent superintendent on Thursday night.

The announcement prompted cheers and applause from district staff in the room who had waited hours as trustees met behind closed doors. At one point an AISD administrator zipped to a nearby Wendy's and brought back a Frosty for each colleague as a little pick-me-up while they waited for the board's decision.

Segura has been serving as the interim superintendent since January and the board had previously extended his contract for the temporary role through June 30. Before leading the district, he was AISD's chief of operations and played a key role in developing Austin ISD’s historic $2.44 billion bond which voters approved in 2022.

Trustee Kathryn Whitley Chu said Segura provides what community members have been asking for: stability and commitment to Austin ISD. And, his ties to the district are deep.

“Matias is Austin ISD’s first homegrown superintendent. He is a product of Austin ISD. The son of a beloved Austin ISD teacher and the proud parent of two Austin ISD students,” she said. “Matias is a shining example that anything is possible for our Austin ISD students.”

Segura is poised to become the district’s first permanent superintendent since July 2022, when Stephanie Elizalde left the post to lead Dallas ISD. She was briefly replaced by Anthony Mays who was Austin ISD’s interim superintendent for about six months before getting a permanent gig in Alief ISD in Houston.

Instability in the top position is not the only challenge Austin ISD has faced in recent years. The district has dealt with significant staff turnover in the wake of the pandemic. AISD also faced a state investigation over problems plaguing its special education services that led the Texas Education Agency to appoint monitors this year to ensure the district is making mandatory improvements to how it serves students with disabilities.

Segura said steps his team has taken over the last 11 months to address those challenges are beginning to bear fruit.

“Climate and culture is improving. Retention at Title 1 schools has gone up by over 10%. We were able to pass a really aggressive compensation package,” Segura said. “Working through all the challenges of special education and seeing evidence of those plans working has really built a sense of momentum in this organization.”

The school board’s decision to name Segura as the lone finalist comes roughly a month after they decided to forgo a national search for the permanent role because they had a strong internal candidate. Instead, they posted the job and accepted applications until Dec. 7. All told, six people applied.

School Board President Arati Singh said Segura was ultimately the right person for the job because he understands the district and its values. She also said Segura is a good communicator that the board can trust.

“People trust him and that’s what you need when you’re talking about kids’ lives every day and you think about all the things that we do as a district from academic to mental support and keeping them safe — you have to have that heart for it as well as the mind,” she said.

Singh did point out that Segura does not have the typical professional background of a superintendent since he is not an educator but rather an engineer.

“However he is the academic leader of this school district," she said, "and I’m really excited about conversations that the board is going to be having with him and that he is going to be having with his staff to really flesh out what that academic vision is going to be for AISD."

Singh added that Segura will be getting his superintendent certification soon. He was not required to have it for the interim role, but Texas does require full-fledged superintendents to either be certified or receive a waiver from the Texas Education Agency to hold the permanent position.

There is a 21-day waiting period in Texas between when the board names a lone finalist and when trustees formally hire that person. A final vote on Segura’s contract will likely happen in late January. Austin ISD said in a statement that it will also hold public forums with him next month.

For his part, Segura said he is “all in” when it comes to Austin ISD and is excited about what’s ahead professionally and personally.

“I think now it’s kind of sinking in. One of the things I tell my daughter is 'I will actually be able to give you your diploma,' which is pretty awesome,” he said. “I just never thought that that was something that would ever happen to me, so really proud of that.”

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