Turmoil on an elected school board: South San Antonio ISD

Good governance, and doing what’s right for the students, is a challenge for every school board, whether elected (as at traditional school districts) or appointed (as at charter schools in Texas). But it’s disturbing to read about the level of turmoil going on now at South San Antonio ISD. How can the board be looking out for the students when they are so busy fighting each other?

After hearing complaints from parents and teachers, South San Antonio ISD Superintendent Rebecca Robinson tried to fire the principal of Zamora Middle School, but the board broke into factions and failed to renew any teacher or administrator contracts. “South San board gets back to bickering”, Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News, May 18, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com); “South San ISD principal subject of inquiry”, Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News, May 23, 2013.

In the latest chapter of this drama, two school board members (Rose Marie Martinez and Joseph Michael “JoeJo” Savage) called a meeting—bypassing board President Helen Madla. “Two South San trustees call for meeting next week”Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News, May 25, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com). At the meeting, held last night, the board elected Martinez as president, Carlos Longoria as vice president, and Savage as secretary; then, the board met in closed session to discuss Robinson’s contract, but took no action. “South San ISD board reshuffles”, Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News, May 29, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com).

So, here are the current members and positions of the South San Antonio Board of Trustees:

  • Rose Marie Martinez (District 1): President (formerly Secretary)
  • Carlos Longoria (District 3): Vice President
  • JoeJo Savage (District 7): Secretary
  • Helen Madla (District 6) (formerly President)
  • Trinidad T. Mata (District 2) (formerly Vice President)
  • Julie Ponce (District 4)
  • Connie Prado (District 5)

We can watch and see (with help from diligent San Antonio Express-News writer Francisco Vara-Orta, who admirably maintains objectivity while covering this drama) if the reorganized board takes action against Superintendent Robinson soon.

It’s gotten so bad that the editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News has called for help from the state:

The South San Antonio Independent School District school board is out of control and needs intervention from the Texas Education Agency. School board politics and micromanaging by board members in this beleaguered school district are at an all-time high, and the resulting problems are unlikely to be quietly resolved anytime soon.

“Board politics are affecting the education in the district”, San Antonio Express-News, May 22, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com).

An odd side note: Earlier this year, during a failed run for District 4 on the San Antonio City Council, Savage exaggerated his level of education, claiming he had completed three years of college, when he actually had completed less than one. “Candidate’s education claims questionable”, Gloria Padilla, San Antonio Express-News, March 25, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com); “Young Saldaña faces younger challenger in District 4”, Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News, April 22, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com). As it turned out, incumbent Rey Saldaña was re-elected by a wide margin. “Incumbents coast to re-election”, Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, May 12, 2013 (at Mysanantonio.com). 

Fallout from Saldaña’s first city council win may also have impacted last year’s election for District 3 on the State Board of Education, as discussed in this earlier post.

Share with friends:


A nonprofit that helps parents to research school options and become advocates for high quality education.