Prep school's students anxious for new principal

HOUSTON It's an emotional fight for the students of East Early College High School, which is a venture with Houston Community College. It's allowed many students to be the first in their families to get degrees. Right now, a very important position at the school is vacant, and who will fill it is the subject of concern.

Joe Perez and his friends like to banter. But this summer, there is one subject that's no joke to them -- because it's shaped who they are.

"You get a sense of accomplishment," Perez said.

Perez and his friends all attend HISD's East Early College High School. In just five years, students can get both their diplomas, which Perez and his friends just received, as well as an associate's degree, which they'll spend the next year earning.

They sing its praises.

"It got me thinking about college more than I would've had I been in high school," student Antuan Cano said.

But they worry about the future.

"It's a decision that can't be rushed," Perez said.

East Early's principal resigned earlier this month for a better opportunity, which means the top job at this exemplary school is open. Parents and students now fear the district will rush the decision.

"You can't just grab someone from middle or a different high school," Perez said. "This high school is very, very different."

Or even worse, do political favors.

"That's not how we do business in HISD," said Norm Uhl, the school district's spokesman.

Uhl says the district is going through a painstaking search and selection process that includes input from both parents and students, some of whom sit on an interview committee.

"They know what a good principal is because they've had one," Uhl said. "But we also want to find out just their thoughts about what they're looking for, what their expectations are."

The students say what they want is simple.

"We want someone familiar with early college, the college side, as well as the high school side," Cano said.

But Perez's mother, Erica Perez, doesn't feel like HISD is listening.

"Don't waste my time, make me go to these meetings, take time away from my son, my family, my work," she said. "Don't waste my time. Tell me the truth."

Despite what people have heard, HISD says a principal has not been chosen yet. Three people have been interviewed. Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier will make the final decision, and it will come soon.

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