Six people addressed the Lubbock Independent School District Board of Trustees about the announced retirement of Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr., how hard it will be to replace him and their concerns about the timeline for replacing him.
The board met Thursday morning and heard the six comments near the beginning of the meeting, starting with two politicians who are running for the state House of Representatives.
Drew Landry, who is running as a Democrat for District 83, said he was coming to the board meeting to congratulate Robertson on his service to LISD.
“You have left a mark upon this area that none will be ever able to come close to, and I appreciate that,” Landry said. “You have left this board with a daunting and incredible task of finding your successor.”
To the board, Landry said it is incumbent to find a successor who shares Robertson’s values for public education.
Samantha Fields, who is running as a Democrat for District 84, said her original plan was just to introduce herself, but when she heard Robertson was retiring, she said she decided to tell the board how impressed she was with Robertson, and how she hopes the board will do a good job in finding his replacement.
Deborah Spencer, a Lubbock resident who introduced herself as the chairwoman of the NAACP Education Committee, said she appreciates the hard work Robertson has done for the district, including his “excellent hire”
“I know you have posted the job, and I kind of wonder why the hurry, because he has given us time to look for an excellent replacement, and I kind of also wonder why it’s a master’s instead of a doctorate. Because he’s given us plenty of time. But again, I’d like to thank Dr. Robertson for a job well done,” Spencer said.
Dora Cortez said she was surprised and happy for Robertson but hoped he would stay longer with the district. She said she found him to be very knowledgeable about the financial and academic needs of the district in his last superintendent roundtable discussions.
Cortez said she would like Robertson to be involved in helping the trustees pick his successor, but she also reminded the trustees that Robertson’s long period of notice — he announced in October that he would leave in June 2018 — is generous.
“As your constituent, I’d like to see more community involvement in the selection process,” Cortez said.
Cortez also had someone in mind for Robertson’s replacement whom she described as “very qualified” — Deputy Superintendent Theresa Williams.
“She is passionate about students, leads with others in mind. She values diverse opinions and treats others with respect. She has been highly supportive of the necessary work of raising the literacy achievement of every student in our district. She has a passion for our district and our motto, ‘Every child, every day.’ She is a very diverse young woman and would be here long term, and that is what our district needs,” Cortez said.
Rene Pearis-Coleman also noted Robertson had announced his retirement in October to give the board ample time to look for and hire the most qualified person.
“And yet, the vacancy posting notice closes on Nov. 14,” Pearis-Coleman said. “The special nature of the demographics of the student population in LISD makes this position far too important to the welfare of all of our children for the board to rush to fill it.”
Pearis-Coleman noted that it took her two years to decide where to send her daughter to school and that she just had one daughter. A superintendent is responsible for thousands of children, and she said the process to replace Robertson is going “a little bit too quickly.”
The board took no action on the comments; President Laura Vinson had mentioned at the beginning of the meeting that the trustees are not allowed to comment or debate on issues that are not on the board’s agenda.
A job posting for the superintendent position on the Lubbock ISD website states the board is looking for a candidate with a master’s degree in educational administration or a related field; an appropriate Texas administrator certificate; a minimum of seven years of successful teaching experience; and a minimum of five years of successful school administrator experience. Special knowledge or skills required for the job include knowledge of selection, training and supervision of personnel; knowledge of school law, school finance and curriculum and instruction; ability to manage budget and personnel; ability to implement policy and procedures; ability to interpret data; and exceptional organizational, communication, public relations and interpersonal skills.
The job posting states the application deadline is Nov. 14. Interested applicants are asked to send a letter of application and a resume to Vinson’s work email account, but applicants outside the district will be asked to submit a professional application for employment at a later date.