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Hays CISD trustee selection process needs review

Congratulations are in order for the new Hays CISD Trustee Dr. Esmeralda Pérez-González, who takes over for Willie Tenorio.

Tenorio had served on the board for many years – since 2009 –  including time as vice president and president of the board of trustees.

Tenorio turned in his letter of resignation on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as he moved out of his district. Tenorio was representative of Single Member District (SMD) 2. On Dec. 1, a notice was sent out and was published on the Hays Free Press website. The notice said that the board would accept Tenorio’s resignation and appoint a trustee to fill out the term until the May 2022 election.

Pérez-González was named at a special called meeting on Thursday, Dec. 2, and was quickly voted in. The sole purpose of the meeting was to accept Tenorio’s resignation letter and to find a replacement. But with the resignation having just been publicized the day before, it left very little time for anyone else interested in the position to come before the board.

No mistake, Pérez-González is quite qualified, as she has 40-plus years of experience in the education field.

While filling the vacancy with Pérez-González is quite legal by appointment, there seems to have been a rather quick turnaround in appointing the new trustee. In other words, Tenorio’s letter of resignation had JUST been turned in, and already the existing trustees knew who they wanted to vote for.

A bit of background:yes, trustees have resigned in the past. Willie Tenorio himself actually replaced Joe Munoz on the board. Michelle Lopez replaced Shaun Bosar as an appointed trustee.

The late Ralph Pfluger was appointed to fill out a position.

The thing is that Tenorio and Bosar were interviewed by the board after the open position was publicized and applications were accepted by the school district. They were not the sole applications for the position. Pfluger was appointed by the board in a quick turnaround vote when Patti Wood was president of HCISD board.

Both ways are quite legal, though Tenorio pushed to always accept applications for any open position when he was on the board.

Tenorio could easily have served on the board under the holdover provision of the law that would allow him to serve until a special election was held or applications were taken to allow more people to get a chance at joining the board of trustees.

District personnel said that the trustees thought it best to have someone fill the position immediately who lived in SMD2, since Tenorio had already moved. They considered the holdover provision as a last resort, though this district has done that several times in the past.

Pérez-González and her husband both attended the Dec. 1 meeting and she had a typed acceptance speech in both English and Spanish.

It’s almost like the trustees had already discussed who they wanted to replace Tenorio, had chosen and informed Pérez-González and voted her in quickly.

That’s not the open transparency that Hays CISD is always saying it wants to project.

In the future, it would behoove the board to make positions available to all citizens, allow a bit of time for other citizens to put their names in the hat and not just choose someone without an interview process.

Again, Pérez-González will make an excellent truste; she seems to already be friends with several of the current school board members.

But transparency means opening up the process – even if it means you have to wait more than a few days to choose a new board member.

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