An eclectic group, to say the least.
The Chronicle on Friday obtained through a public records request a list of people who applied to the position through the end of March. In total, 374 people applied through the deadline last Thursday, although the agency extended the application window for an additional two weeks. The second round has already netted several dozen more applicants, said TEA deputy commissioner Steve Lecholop.
“We want to make sure all Houstonians have a second chance or more time to deliberate on whether they would be good fits to serve on the board,” Lecholop said. “We wanted to make sure we captured as many Houstonians as were interested and create as deep of a pool as possible.”
So far, the applicant pool is vastly underrepresented by Hispanic community members, raising concerns and questions among some residents. The Hispanic population makes up 10% of the applicants but nearly 62% of the HISD student body, according to the TEA.
Meanwhile, 40% of the applicants are Black, 33% white, 12% other and 5% Asian, according to the state agency. The group includes many teachers or educators, parents and district alumni, according to the TEA, in addition to some community activists and one current trustee, Bridget Wade.
Meanwhile, somoe trustees at a Thursday night board meeting expressed concerns that the applicant pool included people who had previously lost in school board elections, vendors in the district and people who say they have already been chosen for the position despite an ongoing selection process.
“If you’ve already selected three to four people, and those people are stating they’re selected, then that would be disingenuous to the community,” said trustee Myrna Guidry. “Those names are out there.”
Lecholop, the TEA representative who presented and answered questions at the board meeting, said the agency has selected no one for the board of managers or the superintendent positions.
“Not a soul in Houston or elsewhere has been notified that they will be a member of the board of managers,” he said.
Among the applicants in the first round is Lawrence Allen Jr., a third-generation educator and former member of the State Board of Education. His sister, Dr. Patricia Allen, now sits on the HISD board of trustees. Both siblings and their parents served as principals in the district, Allen said, adding that he is uniquely equipped to serve in the position due to his experience with the district and on the state level.
See here and here for some background. I guess this means they’re hoping for more Latino applicants, though that’s still my inference and not anything that the TEA has explicitly said. Par for the course, us trying to guess what the TEA has in mind to do.
Be that as it may, here are some names I recognized in the applicant list. All have been unsuccessful candidates for at least one office – you can search my archives for them or click on the Tag link below to see where they have been in the past.
There are also a few names I’m not sure about, because they’re sufficiently common and/or are a variation on a known past political figure. This is how they are listed and who they might be:
Anne Garcia – There was a Dem candidate in the 2020 Senate primary named Annie Garcia.
Gregory Travis – Could possibly be the former District G Council member and failed State House candidate Greg Travis.
Sandra Moore – Possibly the former Democratic candidate for HD133. I’m Facebook friends with her and see that she has a recent post about the BoM, but didn’t say anything about being an applicant herself.
Graciela Saenz – This one seems likely to be the former At Large City Council member Gracie Saenz. I’d have thought that might have been mentioned in the story if so, but who knows.
We’ll see. As for the concern about people who had failed in past runs for the Board of Trustees being appointed as a Manager, I wouldn’t bar anyone like that from the process, but I do think it would be a fair question to ask why they should be appointed when the voting public has previously rejected them. There are a number of ways one could give a satisfactory answer to that question, and a number of ways one could give an answer that ought to brand you as not being a good candidate for any position of power ever. As for why more current Trustees did not apply for the Board, that’s a question I’ll ask those who are running for re-election this fall.