Weslaco ISD Superintendent Priscilla Canales will retire at the end of the 2021-22 school year, according to a release the district issued Friday.
Canales’ departure follows a shift in power on the school board that gave a faction of mostly new trustees the majority after the November election.
That faction voted to terminate the district’s general counsel in December to the chagrin of the minority faction.
The board also moved to initiate a forensic audit and discussed the scope of that audit earlier this week.
The district’s release characterizes Canales’ retirement as a decision to focus on her personal life.
“It’s time for me to start planning the transition to the next chapter of my life and return to family,” Canales stated in the release. “I love Weslaco ISD, and want the School Board to have ample time to work with the community to develop the ideal profile of the next superintendent. I know transitioning leadership takes a lot of time, and I will fully support the Board throughout the process.”
Canales, 54, is the first woman superintendent of the district and has led it since 2016, the capstone on a 30 year career in education. The release listed a long list of WISD achievements made during her three year tenure, including 48 new state academic distinctions, high state accountability ratings and financial ratings, literacy initiatives and crisis management through flooding in 2018 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One constant we can always count on in life is change. And one of the many things Weslaco ISD has demonstrated over its 100-year history is its remarkable growth and resilience. I’m honored to have been a part of Weslaco ISD’s legacy. With new leadership, comes new perspectives and ideas on how to best educate our children in the future and serve the Weslaco community,” Canales states in the release.
Canales attributed the district’s successes over her tenure to board support.
“As a team, we promised that we would place our children first, and we have worked hard to deliver on that promise by providing an enriched educational program for all,” she wrote. “Yet our successes cannot be achieved without the hard work from our students and the parents who support them, and without engagement from our community. We all should be proud of these accomplishments.”
Writing on behalf of the board of trustees, Board President Armando Cuellar praised Canales for her work.
“In the two years that I have worked with Dr. Canales, she has had the best interest of Weslaco ISD in mind, and the results speak for themselves,” Cuellar wrote. “We have excelled academically, and her support for the athletic and fine arts programs has been outstanding. Dr. Canales takes the time to acknowledge student success and has focused on student achievement, looking for the best strategies to maintain high standards of excellence. She has helped our district navigate through this pandemic really well, doing everything necessary to maintain our focus on the educational process and keep our school district moving forward. I am very grateful for her contributions to Weslaco ISD, and I wish her the very best in her future endeavors.”
Canales will continue serving on several state boards and will remain active in her roles on the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of South Texas and Weslaco Rotary, the statement said.