Two Austin ISD superintendent candidates have withdrawn from consideration, making interim Superintendent Paul Cruz the only candidate, AISD announced Dec. 10.
On Dec. 8 the AISD board of trustees voted to change the school district's process to allow Cruz to be considered, citing requests from community members to keep him in mind for the role. After hearing concerns from members of the community about canceling a previously scheduled public forum, trustees also voted to invite the district's top three superintendent candidates to answer community members' questions as part of a new public forum Dec. 13. Board President Vincent Torres said the district would extend an invitation to Cruz to take part but did not identify the other two candidates in the running.
Ray and Associates, the executive search firm AISD hired to help conduct the superintendent search, informed the board that the other two candidates have declined to participate further in the search process and decided to withdraw from consideration for the job.
"When we selected the three candidates our intent in the bar, if you will, that we have set was whoever we [chose had to] be candidates that we as a board felt we could support ... as superintendent. We're now down to one. We didn't expect it to turn out that way, but we certainly feel that Dr. Cruz is capable of being the superintendent, and so I think that the likelihood that the board will name him as a sole finalist is pretty is pretty high," Torres said, noting the board is still slated to announce the finalist Dec. 15.
Torres added that the differences between the top three candidates and the others in the pool of 98 applicants were such that he does not think the board will look to any of the other candidates as options.
"These were clearly outstanding candidates that met the requirements that we felt we had set for the top candidates," he said.
Torres said when the other two top candidates learned of the community's support for Cruz, they decided it would not be in their best interest to continue the process.
In previous board meetings, Torres and other members of the board had advocated for presenting at least two candidates to the community rather than announcing a single candidate.
"Three was the magic number, for me," Torres said. "... But we as a board did make that decision. We had three candidates. The fact that two of them decided to not continue on is something that is out of our control, and at this point it's unfortunate that the community will not have an opportunity to hear from those candidates, because I think the community would have come to the same conclusion that we had, that they were all excellent candidates."
AISD still plans to hold a community forum at which Cruz will be the only candidate, according to the district.