Dr. Grenita Lathan says 'she did what was asked' during time as HISD's interim superintendent

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Friday, June 11, 2021
One last interview: Interim superintendent talks final days at HISD
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Houston Independent School District Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan is leaving the district to pursue a new journey in Missouri, but what are her thoughts before she leaves? What has she learned during her time at HISD? What played a role in her decision to leave her post? Hit play to watch her one-on-one interview with ABC13 in the video above.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Even in her last month on the job as HISD's interim superintendent, Dr. Grenita Lathan is out in the community thanking partners, like the Cypress Springs Links Chapter who is providing scholarships to students at Booker T. Washington High School in Fifth Ward.

The campus is among those which Lathan has focused on during her 3-and-a-half-year tenure, and she's proud to have brought in technical programs, an opportunity for students to become pilots, increased baccalaureate curriculum, and thanks to bond revenue, improved infrastructure to HISD campuses.

READ ALSO: Dr. Grenita Lathan announces she's leaving HISD after more than 3 years as interim superintendent

"The charge when I came here in 2015 was to take low-performing schools and get them off of low-performing status," said Lathan during an interview with Eyewitness News. "It was really great to see that mission accomplished as it relates to Wheatley High school."

Because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down assessment testing, Wheatley didn't officially get off the list, but 48 others did during Lathan's tenure as interim superintendent.

Still, she and other district leaders have been widely criticized for students' previous poor test scores.

READ ALSO: Single mom gives Houston ISD harsh grade for poor prep

Houston voters threw out veteran board members and the revamped board voted to open up the permanent job to all applicants rather than award the job to Lathan.

"I know I earned it, but I'm not bitter," she said. "There's no need to be. I know I've done what I was asked [and] tasked to do, and so that's the confidence that I have in myself and my abilities."

Kathy Blueford Daniels, a board member who advocated for Lathan, said she believed Lathan deserved that role.

"I don't know what the mentality was of the others," she said. "I didn't want to think it was a 'Black woman issue.'"

Lathan's time in the top chair managing HISD's 284 schools and more than 200,000 students has included unparalleled challenges, not just those involving the board, which was often divided along racial lines, but also the pandemic and the threat of a state takeover that still looms.

READ MORE: HISD's takeover by Texas education brass official

"That's been front and center for three to four years now, and it will continue until the litigation has been resolved between the board and [the Texas Education Agency],'" said Lathan, "So, that's made it difficult to recruit personnel to the district, especially district-level administrators."

Lathan has spoken to the newly-chosen superintendent, Millard House II, about some of the challenges ahead and urges him to listen to families and build relationships with people at all levels in education.

But her final words are for the team she worked with and the families and children she tried to serve well.

"Just thank you again, it's been a pleasure to serve as a leader of this great school district and the various capacities," she said.

Lathan was the unanimous pick of the Springfield Missouri school board to be the district's superintendent. The HISD board takes the final vote on House taking the HISD post on Monday.

He is expected to start work in July.

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