Anthony Mays Takes Over AISD as Supe Search Starts

New interim steps in after Elizalde’s abrupt departure

Interim Superintendent Anthony Mays
Interim Superintendent Anthony Mays (Courtesy of Austin Independent School District)

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees on June 13 named Chief Schools Officer Anthony Mays as interim superintendent, to take over when Stephanie Elizalde – who served as Dallas ISD's CSO before coming to Austin – returns to the Big D at month's end to take over that district. Elizalde in October 2020 hired Mays from Harris County; he began his career as a special education teacher in the Metroplex and worked his way up.*

In a statement, Education Austin, the labor organization representing AISD employees, congratulated Mays but warned that he was taking on a tremendous amount of work. "The past 18 months have been full of challenges leaving many of our workers and community feeling unsupported," the statement read. "We see this as an opportunity for Dr. Mays and this administration to meet those challenges with transparency and engagement to rebuild trust as the foundation of future work." The group also mentioned that the district could work to close what it described as "large academic gaps" hindering the performance of Black and Latinx students and of those with disabilities.

After Elizalde announced she was indeed leaving AISD (after months of dispelling such rumors), some teachers and parents expressed desire for a longer interim period before deciding on a permanent replacement. During the June 13 board meeting, some callers expressed frustration that public input was not considered prior to the decision to elevate Mays. Former Vice President of the Board of Trustees Paul Saldaña, who's remained very active in AISD policy dialogues, echoed those concerns, fearing that Mays' leadership could lead to the community being "subjected to an extension and perpetuation of the outgoing superintendent's administration. In other words, more of the same." However, other callers – some reading from very similar scripts – praised Mays' qualifications. David Kauffmann, a UT professor and former principal in AISD, had also applied for the position of interim superintendent.

The district will announce next steps in the superintendent search in coming weeks; in the meantime, Mays promised during the June 13 meeting that his primary goal as interim will be to improve the frayed relationship between staff and the district's administration.

Editor's note: The original version of this story stated that Anthony Mays is "the first Black educator to be appointed to AISD's top job." That is incorrect. Meria Carstarphen earned that distinction, having led Austin ISD from 2009 to 2014. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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