This was sudden.
Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier announced Thursday that he is stepping down effective on March 1.
Grier became superintendent of Houston in 2009, leading the nation’s seventh largest school district to win the Broad Prize for Urban Education in 2013.
“Time flies when you’re having fun. This is, like, year seven,” Grier said during his surprise resignation announcement at the district’s central office. “As I reflect back and look at where we were and where we are today, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Grier praised the school board and his staff. He said he was proud of several of his initiatives, including distributing laptops to all high school students, offering more dual-language programs and helping low-income teenagers get into top tier colleges.
“Someone said to me, ‘Well, why now? What’s going on?'” Grier said. “You can’t be school superintendent in Houston forever, even though you might want to. You just simply can’t.”
Grier has been a polarizing figure from the outset, partly because of his aggressive school reform efforts and high staff turnover rates. While he outlasted the tenure of most big city superintendents, recent board meetings have become increasingly tense. Just this week, an audit questioned how the district handled several construction contracts.
The 65-year-old’s $300,000-a-year contract was set to expire on June 30, 2016. The school board had not made a move to extend it.
Here’s the full Chron story. I said this was sudden, but it wasn’t exactly unexpected. There has been speculation about Grier’s future since he entered the last year of his contract. I’ve finished doing HISD candidate interviews – they will run next week – and it seems likely to me that Grier might not have had five votes on the board to get another extension. He’s losing one ally in Paula Harris, and may lose another in Manuel Rodriguez. A graceful exit may have looked like a good option to him.
As for Grier’s legacy, I’d say he had a lot of ideas to improve HISD, some of which worked better than others, and he went about his job with a lot of energy and passion. The results were not what he might have liked, and in the end that will color any judgment of him. A lot of things he pushed for – changes in the magnet school programs, closing some low-population schools, teacher evaluations, to name three – were very controversial. Still, there were good things accomplished, and his successor will inherit a district that’s in decent shape overall. It will be very interesting to see what qualities the Board looks for in that successor. I figure they’ll get started looking shortly, and there ought to be no shortage of interested applicants. In the meantime, I wish Dr. Grier and his wife all the best as he enters the next chapter in his life, and I thank him for his service to HISD. I am sure we have not heard the last of Terry Grier. The Press has more.