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Trustees Name Paul Cruz Interim Superintendent

Chief schools officer has spearheaded initiatives to increase student achievement across AISD

AUSTIN, Texas—Tonight, Austin ISD’s Board of Trustees named Dr. Paul Cruz, the district’s chief schools officer, as interim superintendent. The district’s governing board made the selection on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will leave Austin to lead Atlanta Public Schools.

“AISD has made significant progress during the past five years due to the shared vision and collaboration of the district’s leaders. And, Dr. Cruz has been at the center of AISD’s success,” Vincent Torres, board president, said. “AISD is fortunate to be able to call upon his leadership and talent to ensure the district continues to move forward and increase student performance. Dr. Cruz has worked in the field of education for almost 30 years. He understands the challenges and opportunities of public education in Texas. He knows AISD. He knows our schools. And, most importantly, he knows our community.”

As the district’s chief schools officer for the past five years, Cruz has led AISD’s more than 120 campus communities during a period of transformative change in Austin as demographics have shifted and the fiscal landscape of public education has changed.

Working with AISD’s principals and teachers, Cruz has helped spearhead strategies to increase student performance across the district. Cruz, a former deputy commissioner at the Texas Education Agency whom the commission dubbed the “dropout czar,” has focused on supporting programs and investments designed to close the achievement gap.

Cruz also has helped plan and implement the development of the district’s signature programs such as social and emotional learning, dual-language, early college high schools and the Any Given Child initiative with the Kennedy Center, which integrates creative learning into the district’s curriculum and classrooms to make arts-rich schools a priority—and reality—for all students.

Cruz earned his bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Texas at Austin, master’s degree in educational administration from Corpus Christi State University and doctoral degree in educational administration, focusing on the urban superintendency, from the University of Texas at Austin—all before the age of 30.

Throughout his career, Cruz has served as a teacher, campus administrator and district leader in Austin, Corpus Christi, Round Rock, San Antonio and South Texas.  Prior to joining the TEA in 2002, he served as the superintendent of Laredo ISD. In 2006, Cruz joined AISD as an assistant superintendent for educational services, focusing on college readiness, dropout prevention, counseling and student support services. He also served as the associate superintendent for middle schools.

During the next few months, Cruz will focus on finalizing AISD’s budget of about $1 billion for the upcoming school year, completing the district’s facility master plan and continuing to lead the rollout of AISD’s signature programs.

“As a parent and teacher, I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to be able to help lead AISD during this transition. As interim superintendent, it is my role to keep our district moving forward and focused on our core business: our students’ success,” Cruz said. “This is an exciting time for AISD. We have great students, talented teachers, exceptional campus leaders, outstanding support staff, and dedicated parents.  We also have community members and partners who are willing to step up and help our district succeed. It is a privilege to support and work alongside our great Austin community.”