New Irving ISD Leaders Impress Civil Rights Activist

Latina superintendent and African American board president in Irving ISD

Preparing this summer for a new school year, the Irving Independent School District has its first Latina Superintendent -- Magda Hernandez. Meanwhile, an African American man was named school board president by the rest of the district trustees.

The board president, A.D. Jenkins, talked about the new superintendent Wednesday on KHVN radio's Community Forum program.

"She's home grown. She's been in the district for at last 26 years. So she's seen the changes over the years," Jenkins said. "We've had several superintendents within the past several years, so our kids need commitment and we need stability."

The leadership achievement comes in a majority minority district in which 90% of the students are now Latino, African American or Asian.

"I'm very encouraged," Irving civil rights leader Anthony Bond said.

He is one of the activists who fought for diversity in Irving ISD leadership.

"We've had to go through hell and back. I've had death threats," Bond said.

As recently as 2014, all of Irving ISD's Board of Trustees were white. Students were 70% minority that same year, when a federal judge ruled that Irving's method of electing some trustees at large, district-wide hurt Latino representation.

Since then, a change to electing all seven trustees from single-member districts has produced greater diversity on the Irving ISD School Board.

"The leadership that we have in place currently, we're more open minded. We're more engaged and we're more in tune to what goes on each and every day," Jenkins said.

The new board president said he has won and lost elections running at large and greatly prefered serving the voters from a single-member district.

"I can sort of talk and meet and greet those folks during the campaign season. And that's very different than covering a large, larger area," Jenkins said.

Bond said Irving voters still have high expectations for these school leaders.

"It's historical and I'm going to ask them to treat everybody like I've always asked the school district to treat everybody," Bond said.

Hernandez replaced former Irving ISD Superintendent Jose Parra, who resigned under pressure last year.

Jenkins told radio listeners Wednesday that the new Irving ISD leaders accept the challenge.

"We have a lot that is going on and a lot of positive things happening, as well," Jenkins said.

Irving ISD has nearly 34,000 students, 37 campuses, more than 4,000 employees and a $423 million budget.

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