Three more senior staff members at Houston ISD are departing their high-ranking posts at the district as the Texas Education Agency prepares to appoint new leaders to govern the largest school district in Texas.
Police chief Pedro Lopez Jr., chief of schools Denise Watts and chief talent officer Jeremy Grant-Skinner will leave the district this month or next, according to public records. Watts’ last working day is June 14 and Grant-Skinner’s is May 31, according to resignation forms obtained through a public records request, which show that both submitted their resignation in April.
Lopez, meanwhile, has been selected to serve as top cop in Killeen, a city roughly 75 miles north of Austin.
Killeen city manager Kent Cagle last week selected Lopez to lead the Killeen Police Department following a nationwide search that netted 20 applicants, according to a press release from the city.
The departure of three chiefs from HISD comes as the takeover of the 186,000-student district has stirred confusion and concerns among parents, teachers and other community members.
The state agency plans to suspend the powers of Superintendent Millard House II and HISD elected trustees on or after June 1, replacing them with appointed managers to govern the district for at least two years.
One other member of the superintendent’s cabinet has already departed the district ahead of the takeover.
Max Moll, former chief engagement officer, left his position at HISD in April, noting in a Twitter thread that he was grateful for House’s steadfast leadership in challenging circumstances.
“His leadership is inspiring, focused, and selfless, and Houston will be worse-off because of his potential departure,” Moll wrote on social media. “I still believe in the power of public education and its ability to transform lives. (Houston ISD) will continue to shape the future of our city and, for that reason alone, we all must ensure its next chapter is successful. Our city, students, and families deserve nothing less.”
While all three of these people were in senior leadership positions, none of them were longtime HISD employees, all being hired between 2020 and 2022. We were between Superintendents for much of that, and some level of turnover is always going to happen. It’s still the case that their replacements will be hired by a Superintendent that will not be picked by the elected Board. The effects of this takeover will be longer-lasting and more far-reaching than just in the classroom.