Elizabeth Fagen was unanimously approved as the next superintendent of Humble ISD at a June 14 board of trustees meeting despite concerns from parents and community members.
The decision was ratified amid pushback from parents and residents regarding Fagen’s support of a voucher program at her previous district—Douglas County School District in Colorado—as well as her handling of negotiations with the district’s teacher’s union and the market-based pay structure she helped implement that changed starting salaries for teachers of certain grades.
Fagen will replace retiring HISD superintendent Guy Sconzo in early July. She was offered a five-year contract with a base salary of $298,000, according to HISD.
The board announced three town hall meetings in July where parents can meet Fagen and discuss their concerns. The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. July 19 at Kingwood High School, on July 21 at Humble High School and July 28 at Atascocita High School.
“Going forward, we want it to be a dialogue in our community,” trustee Keith Lapeze said. “It’s our hope that through these town halls you’ll understand what we as a board saw in Dr. Fagen throughout the selection process.”
Soon after Fagen was selected as lone finalist for superintendent May 24, hundreds of people—including parents from her previous school district—took to social media to voice their displeasure. A petition urging the district to reconsider its appointment of Fagen has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
However, the board will not consider the hot-button initiatives implemented at Fagen’s previous district, such as a charter school program and a different teacher pay structure, board of trustees President Robert Sitton said.
“The vision of our school board is to continue the culture and climate we all enjoy as part of the Humble ISD family,” Sitton said.
The residential response led the district to host a June 8 special meeting to discuss the process behind the hire. More than a dozen community members addressed the board at the special meeting with comments about the selection of Fagen as superintendent.
“Imagine if Dr. Guy Sconzo wasn’t retiring and was moving to another school district,” said John Gillespie, a spokesperson for advocacy group Humble ISD Parents. “I don’t believe that we would take to the Facebook and Twitter pages of that district to warn them about him.”
Sconzo urged district residents to give Fagen the same opportunity to succeed he was afforded 15 years ago when he moved from Oklahoma to become HISD superintendent.
“When I came [to HISD], I could not have felt more welcome by everyone,” Sconzo said. “So I very much appreciate everyone giving me the benefit of the doubt. And I hope and I pray that you do the same for my successor. What we have in this school district is very special, and I don’t expect that to change”
Before HISD, Fagen served as superintendent of the 67,000-student DCSD. DCSD, a fast-growing suburban district, has added 8,000 students over the last six years, according to HISD. HISD is projected to add about 10,000 new students over the next decade.