BISD superintendent search continues


By this time 90 days from now the Brownsville Independent School District will have a new superintendent of schools according to the timeline adopted by the district’s board of trustees for hiring the new leader.

The board suspended former superintendent Esperanza Zendejas in early January. Soon after it reached a separation agreement with her and embarked on a timeline intended to result in naming a lone finalist for the position on June 18 and voting to hire the person 21 days later on July 10.

The board has hired the Texas Association of School Boards to assist members in finding the best qualified person. TASB is in the process of conducting an online leadership profile assessment to help develop a profile of the leadership qualities desired in the new superintendent. The board invites community members, district personnel and students to respond to the survey, which is on the district’s website at

“We’re going to have a real nationwide search,” board member Philip T. Cowen said, adding that community involvement sessions held by TASB April 15 and 16, as well as the online survey, should help the search team “get a flavor of this community.” He said comments TASB receives will help the board in making its decision.

“I’d like to have a superintendent that’s been successful in another district, who has a doctoral degree and who is a nice person, somebody that people want to follow,” Cowen said, noting that he was speaking for himself, not the board. “I feel very positive about this, that we’ll find a strong educational leader. It’s going to be a real search. That’s what I like about TASB.”

When the board voted to hire TASB to conduct the search for $19,500, the job listed on the TASB website and the websites of affiliated associations of school boards around the country. As of April 15, 27 people had applied for the position, some from out of state, TASB said.

The survey begins with three questions:

1. What do you consider to be the two or three most significant strengths of the district?

2. What do you consider to be the two or three most important issues / concerns / challenges facing the district?

3. What professional / personal characteristics should the board look for in the next superintendent?

It asks respondents to identify themselves as administrator, board member, community member/parent, faculty, support staff or student. It also says that all responses are strictly confidential.

The board of trustees is to receive a leadership report electronically from the TASB search team on April 30. It will meet with the TASB representatives on May 7, and the application deadline is May 15.

Review of applications is set for May 20, with initial interviews May 27-29, follow-up interviews June 11-13, the vote to name a lone finalist June 18 and the vote to hire on July 10.

In a related matter, the board set a special-called meeting with interim superintendent Sylvia Hatton for 5:30 p.m. Monday to discuss and possibly take action on amending the terms of her contract.

Hatton is a former executive director of the Region One Education Service Center in Edinburg. The board hired her on Jan. 15. to replace Zendehas until a permanent replacement can be found.