LISD Shut Down and Without Superintendent

Keaton Shaffer, Staff Writer

With the highest numbers of new weekly COVID-19 cases this school year and the recent retirement of superintendent Dr. Kevin Rogers, it seems that big changes are in store for LISD on all fronts.

“I learned a long time ago that if you wait until you feel like you’ve finished all the work you want to finish, you’ll never be able to move on,” said Dr. Rogers in his retirement announcement. “I know it is time for me to step aside and allow our board of trustees to select LISD’s next leader.”

Dr. Rogers’ retirement is effective as of Jan. 31, a date that coincided with the return to school from a district-wide 3-day break. In an email sent the night of the 24th, Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson explained that the district had been trying to come up with solutions for weeks to keep schools open, but the surging staff absences had grown too much for the district to handle. 

According to Patterson, “it [was the district’s] hope this district-wide closure [would] stem this alarming trend and provide relief to both students and staff.”

And this wasn’t the first time LISD schools had seen closures this month. From Jan. 20 through 24, multiple schools such as Bridlewood Elementary, Indian Creek Elementary, Creek Valley Middle School and others were closed due to COVID-related staff absences. 

Accordingly, LISD’s online COVID tracking tool shows that the week of Jan. 17 saw an unprecedented increase in newcases, with a total of 2,231. In comparison to the 46 new cases seen in the week of Dec. 13, and to some extent the 609 new cases recorded at the end of winter break as of Jan. 7, it comes as no shock that the district proposed shutting down campuses last week.

Dr. Rogers’ retirement overlapping an increase in COVID numbers and a district shutdown is an unfortunate coincidence. However, LISD is not alone in this struggle. 

There are multiple districts across the state lacking leadership or preparing to say goodbye to their superintendents. Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner announced that he would retire at the end of his contract earlier this month. Scribner, like Dr. Rogers, has been working as a superintendent since 2015. In his own retirement announcement found on the HEB ISD website, he said, “I know the work to prepare students for success in college, career and community leadership will continue. Fort Worth ISD’s best years are still ahead.”

Similarly, Superintendents Jeannie Stone of Richardson ISD and Steven A. Chapman of Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD have both begun the transition out of leadership recently. It is also important to note that Stone’s resignation followed a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against RISD due to the district’s mask mandates in response to their own COVID spike. In fact, according to, currently there are almost 60 superintendent vacancies.

Talia Richman of The Dallas Morning News said these absences might be “a sign of more turnover to come as school leaders continue to grapple with an ongoing pandemic, significant student challenges and political issues.” 

Either way, LISD’s future will surely hold some challenges this year.  The overlap of the superintendent’s retirement and unexpected COVID protocols may leave the district in a vulnerable position, but not all hope is lost. As of last week, weekly COVID cases dropped about 63%. The district is hopeful that the remaining leadership will make the right choices and select the right people to support families, students, teachers and everyone in the community.