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New “supe” PSJA ISD board splits over vote

Less than 30 minutes after the PSJA ISD Board of Trustees voted 4-3 last Thursday to name Houston ISD Area Superintendent Dr. Jorge Luis Arredondo (Ed.D) its “Lone Finalist,” the texts started flowing, which usually came with a link to a story published Aug. 14, 2019 by the Houston Chronicle – “Possible state takeover of HISD (Houston ISD) board looms as state releases ratings.” Why, some people wanted to know, would a school board vote to hire an area superintendent from a school district in trouble with TEA (Texas Education Agency)? Apparently, there were two finalists in the end, and Arredondo won the nod. The faces in the boardroom last Thursday were somber, in my opinion. On the split votes, it’s usually “Jesse” Zambrano (board president), Jorge Zambrano (board secretary-treasurer), and “Jesse” Vela on one side. On the other, Carlos Villegas, “Rick” Pedraza (assistant secretary-treasurer), and Victor Perez. The swing vote is Jorge Palacios (board vice-president). Last week, Palacios voted with the Zambranos and Vela, 4-3, to hire Arredondo. Last month, Palacios, whose cousin (Hector Xavier) and uncle (“Tito)” both once sat on the same school board, sided with the Zambranos and Vela in a 4-3 vote that went against hiring Pharr City Commissioner Itza Flores as the district’s new director of special education. Last November, to assume three vacant seats on the school board, Palacios was sworn into office on an unopposed slate that included Villegas and Pedraza. The Houston ISD possible state takeover is in the news, but how much of its problems can be laid at the feet of an area/assistant superintendent like Arredondo, as opposed to the superintendent and the board as a whole? One social media post – anti-Arredondo – sounded as if a Category 5 hurricane is imminent: “My heart and prayers is [sic] with you all. My problem,” wrote the same poster, “is with the people who did not do us due diligence and bring in another candidate as the same caliber as Dr. King.” I’m guessing some would disagree. The board had a consulting firm and a legal firm vetting the applicants. Then the board did the interviews. It narrowed it down to two top contenders. So obviously Arredondo stepped through a lot of hoops to make the final 4-3 cut. He is expected to assume the superintendent post Oct. 1 after the current superintendent, Daniel King, retires Sept. 30. Another social media post: “Prayers for PSJ ISD staff and ...

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