Dr. Lane Ledbetter was appointed as Carroll ISD’s newest superintendent Dec. 11 and will begin his tenure on Jan. 4, 2021. Community Impact Newspaper sat down with Ledbetter ahead of the new year to discuss what he hopes to accomplish during his time at Carroll ISD. These responses have been edited for length, clarity and grammar.

What made you decide to return to Carroll ISD and apply for the superintendent position here?

It is an outstanding school district. So, as you know, as a superintendent in the state of Texas, this is one of those great opportunities for someone who is in this profession. Along with that, it just so happens that it's where I graduated. [My family] moved here when I was in the third grade, and so I graduated here and then had an opportunity, even, in the mid-'90s to come back and actually teach. I taught science and then also coached for three years. Of course, my mom and dad both taught here. My mom was a third-grade teacher. My dad was a head football coach and athletic director for several years. And my parents still live here. So it's just a great opportunity from a family perspective and a career perspective.

Can you talk a bit about your background in education?

I graduated from Baylor [University] in the middle of the year and went to Lake Travis just for that semester and then moved back up here. I actually taught and coached in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD for a couple of years ... and then had an opportunity to come over to the high school in Southlake at that time. So I taught here for three years, and during that time, I was working on my master's degree. And so once I finished that and it was certified, I went to Birdville ISD as an administrator. ... I worked my way kind of up through that system as a high school assistant principal and then middle school principal and high school principal. Then, I went to the central office as director and assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction. So I spent my last three years as an assistant superintendent. ... Following that, I had an opportunity to go out to Graham, Texas, as superintendent of schools programs, so that was my first superintendent role. I spent three years there. And then, once again, [I moved] from there to Midlothian ISD as superintendent, [and I] have been there probably five and a half years.

What do you hope to accomplish in your first 100 days? What are your top priorities?

Big picture-wise, it's going to be a lot of listening and a lot of learning. It’s really going be about building relationships and gathering input from staff community, parents, students—just listening to a variety of individuals and then also visiting groups and just really understanding the way things have been done and what great things have been happening and what we need to continue doing. And then, those areas that are challenges for the district—[I want to become] more and more informed about those things.

How do you plan to address diversity concerns in Carroll ISD? How do you plan on approaching concerns over the Cultural Competence Action Plan?

This was something that even once I was brought on board, I've been advised [by legal counsel] that I really can't talk about it because of the legal action that's pending. I really can't comment on that topic as superintendent.

Are there any plans to hire a diversity director, as you previously did in Midlothian ISD?

I really think it's kind of in line with all of that [diversity] conversation. I better not comment.

How would you characterize the relationship between the district and the city?

I don't know a lot about the current relationship with the school and the city—I'm assuming it's great. I would anticipate that it's very important that the city and the school district work very closely together, and I feel like in previous districts I've been in, we've had a great relationship, and I anticipate building that relationship with city officials. ... It's important [to me] as the superintendent that the district has quality relationships with all those various groups because we all have to work together to build a great community, which [Southlake] already is.

How should the city and the district work together?

I think it's just going to have to be something that I kind of work through as I'm building the relationships with those individuals in those important positions. Obviously, there's a lot of things that a school district does that are different than those other organizations, but at the same time, we all have, in some respects, a common purpose because we're all serving this community in some way. So we have to work together with the understanding that there are some things that we do that may not overlap.

How do you plan to approach district communications with residents? How will you manage the district's COVID-19 response? What steps will you take to protect students and staff while maintaining the highest level of student education?

It's important that we continue to communicate, as far as switching—virtual, face-to-face and all that. We're learning as we go. ... I'm certain that the district has started one way, and [we] ... are meeting on a daily basis looking at what our responses are and what we need to do differently to serve kids because our No. 1 priority is making sure kids continue to receive a quality education and continue to provide the best that we can for them in the safest environment.

We consistently get information from the public health officials or the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] or the Texas Education Agency or others. And as we've been through this whole thing, sometimes, that information has changed, or sometimes, it contradicts, and so as they make changes, as a district, we have to continue to evaluate.

I will just assure you that we're going to dig in and make sure that we're providing a safe environment for our kids at the same time as quality education, and how we do that might change over time, moving forward. And a lot of it has to do with monitoring the number of cases and where they are and what we need to do. Truly, it has been a day-to-day decision process.

How will the district approach special education needs given the pandemic’s restrictions and ensure that students who need extra help get the extra help they need?

Once again, I'm going to qualify this by saying I haven't had a conversation with our special education staff. I haven't heard concerns from parents. I don't know what the real concerns are, but I feel confident that our kids are being served and their IEPs are being met.

Unfortunately, it's a different world for everyone. So we're all trying to serve our kids in the best way possible and still meet your needs. ... But once again, you know, if that becomes a concern, we need to dig into that, and certainly, we will do what we have to do to make sure that we're doing what we need to be doing.

Are there any plans for future bonds?

It's probably been mentioned publicly that it's time to look at a new strategic plan for the district, and generally, when you do a strategic plan, there's a facilities component to that topic. There would be some feedback during that process that would then evolve into the development of the facilities committee, which would then look at the needs in the district, which would then eventually look at, "Is there a need for an additional bond?"

I'm not aware at this point if anything has been formalized to say, "These are the next steps with the bond," but that's generally the process. ... So we'll be doing that soon. Once I get a chance to get in and kind of get a feel for everything, we'll look at timing for that.