Donna school board swaps acting superintendent

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DONNA — The Donna Independent School Board swapped out acting superintendents at a meeting Tuesday evening.

The board voted to replace Anthony Sorola, who was named to the position in mid-June, with Rebecca Castaneda DeHoyos, who currently serves as an assistant superintendent with the district and has been delegated legal counsel authority to negotiate the acting superintendent agreement.

The board discussed the decision in executive session, but Donna Board President Maricela Valdez characterized the decision as being rooted in the most efficient way to allocate administrators Wednesday.

Sorola, whose regular position is assistant superintendent for HR and finance, has a plate full filling vacancies at the district.

“That’s a huge area already to begin with,” she said. “So I guess we felt that maybe there was a lot coming his way being superintendent, so we felt that maybe him going back to HR — because it’s a big issue, we still have a lot of vacancies — and then putting in another acting superintendent was probably the best decision in order for our district to be best prepared for the first day of school.”

Valdez said the decision was based on responsibilities rather than a lack of qualifications.

“It’s all good. He’s a great person, hard working, very dedicated,” she said. “Now he’ll be able to focus on HR, because we do have vacancies that need to be filled.”

The board named Sorola acting superintendent a little over a month ago following the departure of Hafedh Azaiez, who served as superintendent with the district for three years.

“We lost Dr. Azaiez to Round Rock and he was an extraordinary superintendent, it was a huge loss to Donna. He was so impactful in the changes that he made, and we certainly want to continue with that trend,” Valdez said.

Castaneda DeHoyos will likely not hold the title of acting superintendent for long. Valdez said the district has begun searching for a fulltime replacement for Azaiez and she expects one to be found in a month or a month-and-a-half.

“So we’re looking at interviewing, probably at the end of August, and then naming a lone finalist,” she said. “So we are trying to move efficiently towards that direction to fill the vacancy, but of course making sure that we get input from the community and everybody in general so we make the best choice.”

Valdez said Castandeda DeHoyos has worked with the district for years, serving as a paraprofessional, curriculum specialist, principal and central officer administrator. She served as a federal programs director for many years and is the assistant superintendent for elementary.

“She’s held different positions throughout the years, so we felt she was the most well-rounded to meet the demands,” Valdez said.

Castaneda DeHoyos is likely to need the experience she gained in those posts, however brief her tenure helming the district. The new school year is just around the corner.

“We’ve got to make sure that that’s fully ready to be deployed, implemented and monitored, because with the beginning of the school year, I anticipate that we’re going to experience learning gaps,” Valdez said. “We want to make sure that we’re covering every single corner to make sure that we’re prepared and ready for that.”