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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fairfax County School Board Selects Dr. Karen Garza as Preferred Candidate for Next Superintendent

The Fairfax County School Board is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Karen Garza as its preferred candidate for Superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) pending final negotiation for employment and a successful site visit to the Lubbock Independent School District (ISD).

For the past four years, Dr. Garza has been the Superintendent of the Lubbock ISD, which serves approximately 30,000 students in Lubbock, Texas. Prior to her role in Lubbock, Dr. Garza served as the Chief Academic Officer of the Houston Independent School District, the seventh largest school district in the country. As Chief Academic Officer, the district's second position to the Superintendent, Dr. Garza was responsible for both instruction and facilities for more than 200,000 students.
“Dr. Garza comes to Fairfax County with impressive credentials and skills to lead FCPS in a time of incredible challenges and opportunities,” said Ilryong Moon, Fairfax County School Board Chairman. “She comes to us with a deep commitment to openness and engagement and is eager to work collaboratively in the best interest of all students. The Board looks forward with great excitement to working with Dr. Garza as it builds upon past successes and moves forward in a new era for FCPS.”
On April 6, 2013, the Fairfax County School Board unanimously selected Dr. Garza as its preferred candidate, noting that Dr. Garza brings enormous energy, humility, intellect, and enthusiasm to the task of leading FCPS. Board members also believe that she is a strategic planner, a systems thinker, a stellar manager, and a highly effective communicator. 
The School Board’s decision is the first step in the final phase of the nearly yearlong search process to appoint a new superintendent of schools. Board members will be conducting a site visit to the Lubbock ISD and will begin formal contract negotiation. Once those steps are completed successfully, the School Board will take public action on the appointment of Dr. Garza. That action is anticipated to be completed by the end of April. The Board will also begin planning a series of transition activities and public meetings for Dr. Garza before she assumes the position on July 1.
Dr. Garza is a passionate champion for all students and a strong believer in public education’s responsibility to meet the needs of students across the spectrum. This appointment builds upon the work Dr. Garza began as an elementary classroom teacher in 1986 and which has spanned a variety of educational positions.
Since 2009, Dr. Garza has been the Superintendent in the Lubbock ISD where she has distinguished herself by reducing the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates, emphasizing increased academic rigor, improving the financial health of the district, engaging parents and community members, creating a vision for the school district through the leadership of the Board, and emphasizing community and family engagement efforts aimed at supporting all children in the classroom.
As Chief Academic Officer of the Houston ISD, Dr. Garza was responsible for the academic performance of more than 200,000 students and the daily operation of 300 schools. During her tenure, Houston ISD became one of the highest performing urban school systems in the country. Importantly, the Fairfax County School Board noted, Dr. Garza began her career in the classroom as an elementary teacher for kindergarten through fourth grade in Yoakum, Texas.
Dr. Garza has also served in administrative roles in Katy and Corpus Christi, Texas and as the Associate Executive Director of the Texas Association of School Administrators. A self-professed lifelong learner, she holds a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas and B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Houston.
“I am humbled and very thankful to the Board and the whole FCPS community for this wonderful opportunity,” said Dr. Garza.  “Fairfax County Public Schools has a long tradition of excellence and has consistently been one of the premier school systems in the country.  I look forward to continuing that tradition and working very closely with the Board and the other division stakeholders to achieve even greater success for the students of FCPS.”
“As the superintendent search process winds down, the School Board would like to thank the citizens of Fairfax County for enthusiastically participating in and providing great insights throughout the process,” said Moon. “This outcome would not have been possible without the active participation of our community.”
“Community members, parents, staff members, and students shared with the Board their perspectives, opinions, concerns, and ideas through the various meetings, focus groups, and surveys,” Moon continued. “That information formed the foundation of the criteria the Board used to evaluate candidates.”
The search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) reviewed the candidacy of 47 individuals and interviewed 19 potential candidates. HYA presented nine candidates for consideration by the School Board. The Board conducted initial interviews with six of those candidates and identified semi-finalists for further consideration. 
Additionally, a stakeholder committee that drew widely from the county with membership from parents, residents, students, and staff interviewed the semi-finalists and provided valuable feedback to the Board.   All of this information was crucial to the members of the School Board as they completed final deliberations and confidently selected Dr. Garza as the next Superintendent of FCPS.
For more information, contact the Department of Communications and Community Outreach at 571-423-1200.