Dr. Grenita Lathan

To the disappointment of many in Houston’s Black community, the Houston ISD Board of Trustees voted against giving interim superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan the permanent job, opting instead on a nationwide search to fill the role.

The board voted 6-3 against naming Lathan HISD’s superintendent, removing the interim tag. With the move, HISD effectively decided to conduct a nationwide search for the district’s new non-interim leader. The move will serve to name a replacement for former superintendent Richard Carranza, who departed for New York Public Schools back in early 2018. However, Lathan has been in the interim role for so long, the past two-and-a-half years, and guided HISD through so much that to many African Americans, the move is one to replace Lathan.

Officially, Lathan can still be in the running for the job and the trustees, during the meeting when the vote took place, invited Lathan to apply for the position.

It wasn’t immediately known if she intended to throw her name in the hat for the national search.

Lathan was appointed by unanimous approval to the interim role back on March 22, 2018, in the wake of Carranza’s departure for New York.

HISD Board Vote

Local controversy brewed when later that year, the board replaced Lathan with Dr. Abe Saavedra, who was previously HISD’s superintendent from 2004 to 2009. That short-lived decision, however, was reversed later that same week.

During her tenure as interim, Lathan oversaw the ongoing growth of Texas’ largest school district in the face of multiple issues, including the threat of a state takeover after 21 HISD schools received “F” ratings from the Texas Education Agency.

And in the last year, she worked to manage educational operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, facing the challenges of getting children access to remote learning devices and keeping students, teachers and staff protected from the virus.

Lathan has been with HISD since 2015. She was HISD’s chief academic officer before being appointed to interim superintendent position.