Austin ISD Board of Trustees President Vincent Torres announced at a news conference December 3 that the board will consider Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz for the permanent superintendent position. In a statement from the board, Torres said trustees had received “significant community support” for Cruz.

“The board consensus at this time is to change the process to allow Dr. Cruz to discuss his interest in the superintendent position,” Torres said.

The board began the search process in May and worked with executive search firm Ray and Associates to recruit candidates. More than 90 people applied for the position by the Oct. 20 deadline.

“We looked at all the candidates—those that Ray and Associates brought to us are excellent candidates, just as Dr. Cruz is an excellent candidate—but they all have [different] strengths,” he said. “We were at a point in the process where we knew we wanted to consider Dr. Cruz, and this was the most appropriate point in the process to do that.”

Cruz, who previously served as AISD’s chief schools officer, said he was honored to be included as a candidate. “It was my duty,” he said. “I love Austin, [and] I love Austin ISD.” Cruz has served as interim superintendent since former superintendent Meria Carstarphen announced her departure in March to lead Atlanta Public Schools.

He said he has not let the search distract him from his job as interim superintendent. “My focus was on being the best leader for this school system,” Cruz said. “From the time the board named me as the interim, to today, to tomorrow and the next day—that’s been my focus.”

Torres said trustees took many factors into account when interviewing candidates and deciding whether to include Cruz. “We wanted to listen to the community, and felt that it was important for us to include him,” Torres said. “Our job is to select the best person that is the most appropriate fit of those that have stepped forward. We have to do what is best for AISD.”

At its Dec. 8 meeting, trustees will work to modify the current superintendent search timeline. Torres said they could announce the sole finalist as soon as Dec. 15. A tentatively scheduled public forum to meet finalists Dec. 9 has been canceled.

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