Dallas ISD Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova will be leaving the district this summer, according to an update then superintendent Michael Hinojosa provided to the board of trustees before his departure. Her last day will be August 5, according to that update, which did not identify Cordova’s future plans. D Magazine has reached out to Cordova for comment. “We want to recognize and thank Susana for her significant contributions to the district,” the update added.
Newly installed Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said she had been made aware of Cordova’s impending departure. “I’ve been notified that Susana has decided to take something somewhere else,” she said in a phone call.
Cordova was hired after Elizalde left to become the superintendent at Austin ISD in 2019. (Elizalde had been Dallas ISD’s chief of school leadership.) Cordova was also hired after the board added a clause to Hinojosa’s contract that same year, which required him to use his “best reasonable efforts to identify and mentor one or more qualified individuals” who could be considered by the board of trustees to be his successor. In May 2021, Hinojosa said this could be someone “who could take over in case I got run over by a DART bus.”
That timing, along with several statements Hinojosa made publicly and privately to individuals we spoke to, led many to believe that Cordova was next in line. However, the clause also explicitly said the tasks of searching for and choosing the next superintendent were the responsibilities of the board of trustees.
“I love this job,” Hinojosa told the Dallas Morning News’ Sharon Grigsby, “but while I’ve never felt comfortable leaving for another opportunity, now it’s different because of Susana.”
Cordova also left a job as the superintendent of Denver public schools to move to Dallas. The board began its search for Hinojosa’s replacement in earnest this spring. Elizalde was announced as the lone finalist for the top job at her old district on May 19.
However, it is not known whether Cordova even threw her hat in the ring; superintendent searches are done with a confidentiality, and the public only gets to know who the lone finalist is.
In a conversation in February about the district’s search, former Dallas ISD superintendent and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Moses said there would be internal candidates within the district who might be a good fit. But if they were potentially a good fit for the top spot at Dallas ISD, they would also be attractive to other school districts, because the pool nationally is “very shallow.”
“You have to look at your talent pool in your own district and decided and assess what you have,” Moses said. “And you may find someone that you want to use, but if it’s [ultimately] not, you probably need to be prepared to lose them if they’re skillful and talented. If you have someone on your staff that’s talented and you might want to promote, and you don’t, you might have to be prepared to see them go, too.”