Stephanie Elizalde comes from Dallas ISD, where she has served as the district's chief of school leadership since 2015. According to DISD, she joined the district in 2011 as a director of the district's STEM program. Overall, she has 28 years of education leadership experience, with previous roles in San Antonio ISD and Southwest ISD.
Trustee Arati Singh said she was excited to welcome Elizalde, who showed a familiarity with AISD data and policies during the hiring process. Singh said Elizalde also spoke at length during the interview process about the importance of special education and discussed "rebranding and remarketing schools" that were at risk of closing.
“She had a track record as being one of those women who gets stuff done, and out of all the candidates I felt she would be able to hit the ground running,” Singh said.
Two trustees, Jayme Mathias and LaTisha Anderson, said they supported Elizalde but abstained from the final vote because they did not feel she was the best candidate the district had interviewed.
“I do not believe she was the strongest candidate, but I do look forward to working with her,” Anderson said.
The district’s superintendent search began in February, after outgoing Superintendent Paul Cruz announced his resignation to take a position at The University of Texas. AISD hired JG Consulting to conduct the search, and the firm gathered community feedback in May and June while soliciting candidates for the position. In total, 64 candidates were found during the search.
The announcement of Elizalde as the district’s lone finalist comes one week after trustees began their first round of interviews with candidates in executive session. A second round of interviews took place July 20-21 prior to the official announcement.
“[The board spent] a tremendous amount of time and energy and resources to try to find the right person at the right time,” board president Geronimo Rodriguez said. “She shared that she was excited and eager to work with the board, staff and the community. We are all looking forward to having her serve our community.”
According to Rodriguez, the board will officially vote to hire Elizalde after she has been the lone finalist for 21 days, a waiting period required by state law. Cruz will continue to serve the district until Aug. 31 before departing officially.
Prior to the hire, community members voiced concerns about the district’s hiring process during public comment. Over a dozen individuals read a prepared statement criticizing trustees for not using a questionnaire developed by six local coalitions during the superintendent search. Community members requested the lone finalist release answers to the questions, which address district equity, school closures and staff turnover.
Others members of the public also said the hiring timeline seemed rushed considering the ongoing pandemic, and asked trustees to slow the process down to consider more community feedback.