South San ISD conservator addresses school board division

Judy Castleberry has power to overturn decisions; must report back to TEA

SAN ANTONIO – Troubled relationships within district leadership in the South San Antonio Independent School District top the list of issues state-appointed conservator Judy Castleberry will address.

The Texas Education Agency appointed Castleberry conservator in late February after an investigation revealed problematic relationships among school board members and between board members and school administration.

There were also allegations of mismanaged finances.

On Tuesday, Castleberry said she believes those financial issues have largely been resolved.

Her duty now is to address what seems to be a significant division among school board members.

During interviews with board members and other district personnel, Castleberry said many people mentioned a minority and majority existing on the board.

“That’s really not in the best interest of the district,” Castleberry said. “We need a united board. People can disagree, but hopefully they do that respectfully and professionally and then reach a decision that everybody can support.”

Castleberry adds that student performance within the district is strong, which she sees as an indicator of solid teaching and campus management.

As conservator, Castleberry is not running the district, but is tasked with monitoring the board and administration and reporting back to the TEA commissioner.

She can also overturn decisions made by the board and administration.

Appointing a conservator, Castleberry said, is a chance for the district to prove to the TEA that it can address the issues it has without the state appointing a board of managers, which would suspend the current board members for a period no longer than two years.

Castleberry said it is unclear how long she will stay at South San ISD as conservator.

In the past, Castleberry has served as a TEA-appointed district conservator in El Paso and a monitor for a school district in Dallas. Prior, she spent 30 years working with the Education Service Center, Region 20, based in San Antonio.

About the Author: