PSJA school board names Houston ISD area super as lone finalist

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school board has named a lone finalist for the superintendent position to succeed Daniel King, who announced his retirement in June.

Trustees named Jorge Arredondo, an educator with over two decades of experience in the field, as the lone finalist for the post in a 4-3 vote Thursday evening. In accordance with state law, school districts must wait 21 days before being authorized to approve a contract for a new superintendent.

Arredondo is currently the area superintendent for Houston Independent School District, which has over 200,000 students.

“He has an established history of educational excellence working for Houston ISD, the largest school district in Texas, and we are very proud to have him at PSJA,” board President Jesse Zambrano said after the meeting.

Arredondo’s experience in administration includes high school assistant principal, middle school principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and area superintendent, according to the news release.

His educational background was not available by press time.

He is expected to start on Oct. 1, following the retirement of the current long-serving superintendent.

King is slated to retire from the district by Sept. 30, following a 12-year tenure as superintendent at PSJA ISD and serving in a similar capacity at Hidalgo Independent School District for eight years.

Zambrano, board Vice President Jorge Palacios, Secretary-Treasurer Jorge Zambrano and trustee Jesus Vela voted to name Arredondo the lone finalist.

Trustees Victor Perez and Carlos Villegas and assistant Secretary-Treasurer Ricardo Pedraza voted against the measure. A brief discussion took place after executive session during Thursday’s board meeting.

Perez and Villegas publicly voiced dissent and the reasons for their decisions after returning from executive session.

After thanking King for his work, Villegas noted that it was a difficult decision to make with many qualified candidates for the position.

“My decision tonight is based on my information through the interview process, with all of the individuals that went for us to sell us on the idea (for) why they would be the next fit for PSJA,” Villegas said, noting he respects the decisions of other board members, hoping they would do the same for him.

Perez said he thought there were other candidates that were better qualified for the position, and raised concerns over the finalist’s ability to adapt to the district’s needs.

Following King’s resignation in June, the school board undertook a statewide and nationwide search for a new superintendent in July. As part of the process, they incorporated input from the community, administration and employees looking for leadership qualities for a successor. This profile included the important qualities and skills to look for in a new superintendent.

The district’s current legal services provider, O’Hanlon, Demerath, and Castillo, along with Waterford School Services, were authorized to assist with the search. Felipe Alanis and Jesse Butler, consultants with Waterford School Services, assisted with recruitment and background reference checks on candidates for the superintendent position, according to the news release.

“I feel that the board did its due diligence in selecting the best superintendent that would meet the needs of our community, staff and especially our students,” Palacios stated in a news release.

The school board interviewed nine of 18 candidates from school districts from a state and nationwide level, according to the news release.

“The PSJA ISD School Board understands that the selection of a school district superintendent is the most important decision that a school board can make. The Board looks forward to working with Dr. Arredondo in order to continue to take PSJA to the next level,” Zambrano stated in a news release. “We selected a super-star who will continue to build on the legacy of Dr. Daniel P. King.