Fort Worth ISD will have a new leader for a few weeks after Aug. 31.

The school board tapped Deputy Superintendent Karen Molinar to serve as interim superintendent starting Sept. 1, the day after current Superintendent Kent Scribner leaves his post. The vote was 9-0.

Trustees also pushed back their decision on naming a lone finalist for superintendent. The agenda for the Aug. 23 meeting included an item on considering and taking action on naming a lone finalist for the job. At the beginning of the meeting, board President Tobi Jackson announced the lone finalist item would not be considered that night.

“We are continuing to make progress daily on the superintendent search. We will be naming a lone finalist for superintendent soon. We will be taking action at an upcoming meeting of this board,” Jackson said.

State law requires superintendent finalists to wait 21 days before officially taking the reins of a school district, meaning the board had to appoint an interim to fill the gap between Scribner’s last day and a new leader.

If trustees find the next superintendent and name that person at a scheduled meeting for Aug. 30, that candidate would not be able to begin leading Fort Worth ISD until Sept. 20.

Karen Molinar is the deputy superintendent of Fort Worth ISD. (Courtesy of Fort Worth ISD)

Molinar has worked for Fort Worth ISD for 24 years. She started as a teacher and made her way through the ranks to her current position. 

She is excited about the interim superintendent position.

“This place is my home. I’m excited to serve our students and our teachers, and then ready to welcome our new superintendent. I’m ready to support them when they take the seat,” Molinar told the Fort Worth Report after trustees appointed her. 

The current superintendent, Scribner, has led the district for seven years. He announced his plans to leave his role in January. In March, trustees approved an exit agreement with him that sees the district paying Scribner $573,077 to buy out his contract.

Trustees have spent August interviewing candidates and deliberating among themselves to coalesce behind one candidate. 

Brian Newby, a lawyer consulting trustees on their search, told the Fort Worth Report that the school board narrowed its search down to six candidates. Trustees are aiming to have a new superintendent in September, Newby said.

Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates is conducting the superintendent search. In its bid to get the search, the firm proposed having a new superintendent in place by Aug. 15, the first day of school. 

The school board is searching for a superintendent who is focused on improving student outcomes. Fort Worth ISD is now a B-rated district. However, trustees have said the district’s academic growth, while encouraging, is not enough.

Trustee Camille Rodriguez was excited for the academic improvements. However, she reminded the school board and administrators that how schools were graded changed and improvements were seen across Texas. Still, Rodriguez said to dig deeper into the data and challenges remain.

“There must be improvement for our students of color,” Rodriguez said at the Aug. 23 meeting.

HYA Associates held more than 18 community meetings with parents, students and other residents to find out what qualities they want in the next superintendent. Many parents said they wanted the district’s next leader to be present in their schools and neighborhoods, to listen and have experience in large urban school districts.

So far, Fort Worth ISD paid  HYA Associates $46,895 for the superintendent search, according to the June and July public list of checks from the district.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Jacob Sanchez

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University.