EPISD trustees pick Diana Sayavedra as lone candidate for superintendent, would be first Hispanic woman to lead the district

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Diana Sayavedra, of the Fort Bend Independent School District, is set to become the first Hispanic woman to be superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District.

By state law, Sayavedra cannot be officially named the superintendent for 21 days. In December, the school board is scheduled to finalize the agreement with Sayavedra, naming her the permanent superintendent.

Once the agreement is finalized, she will be the first Hispanic woman to be superintendent of the over 130-year-old district.

Sayavedra, a native to Laredo, Texas, says while she may not be from the El Paso community, she does understand the dynamics of a border community. She is the acting superintendent in Fort Bend ISD, which has over 77,000 students.

“I understand the unique qualities of a border town. I was educated in a public school system that is very similar to El Paso ISD,” Sayavedra said. “And, so, I am just looking forward to reconnecting with my youth, my roots from my youth, and just very excited to become part of the El Paso community.”

Trustees spent seven hours in executive session deliberating four candidates for the position. None are El Paso natives but do have experience in education. And, one has experience being an administrator in El Paso. Trustees voted 6-0 in favor of Sayavedra. Trustee Leah Hanany abstained from the vote.

Vince Sheffield was named the interim superintendent for EPISD when former superintendent Juan Cabrera resigned.

Cabrera had been named in a California civil lawsuit along with former school board Dori Fenenbock. The suit alleged they had defrauded investors in a charter school business.

The board also considered the following other candidates:

  • Matthew Gutierrez – Superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District
  • Jeff Cottrill – Deputy Commissioner of Governance and Accountability at the Texas Education Agency
  • Darryl J. Henson – Superintendent of the Marlin Independent School District

Trustee Hanany took criticism from the El Paso American Federation of Teachers because Henson is her boss at Marlin Independent School District and is listed in his administration’s executive cabinet.

Henson spent two years working for the Ysleta Independent School District between 2015 and 2017. He was principal of Parkland High School before finding employment outside of El Paso. Marlin ISD has just under 1,000 students listed in its student population, according to the district’s website.

It is unclear if Hanany, who worked at Parkland High School, worked under Henson during his time as principal. She is listed as Leah Wayne, district communications coordinator, under the Marlin ISD website.

“For not disclosing a long-term relationship, trustee Hanany should have recused herself,” Ross Moore, President of the El Paso American Federation of Teachers said.

Moore also said, whoever released the names of the candidates should leave their post. He says the reveal of the names of candidates has damaged the district’s image in the community.

Shane Haggerty, a trustee with YISD, spoke in favor of Henson before the school board began interviewing candidates. Henson told KWTX in Waco that he was “committed” to the Marlin School District.

“I have dismissed all recruitment efforts due to my unwavering commitment to the students and community of the Marlin Independent School District,” Henson told KWTX. He has not returned calls for comment to KTSM.

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