San Benito superintendent resigns following suspension

dfwnewsa | September 27, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

San Benito superintendent resigns following suspension

San Benito CISD Superintendent Theresa Servellon is seen at a regular school board meeting on Aug. 15, 2023. The board of trustees, on a 4-3 vote, suspended Servellon Sept. 8, a year after the past school board hired her. (Courtesy: San Benito CISD/YouTube)

SAN BENITO — Nearly three weeks after her suspension, Superintendent Theresa Servellon is resigning, planning to retire.

After a 90-minute closed-session meeting Tuesday, the school district’s new board of trustees accepted Servellon’s resignation while she’s planning to retire at the end December.

The meeting’s agenda called for “discussion and consideration of superintendent employment agreement/contract and evaluation.”

A year after the past school board hired her, Servellon had two years remaining on her contract paying an annual salary of $203,400.

On Sept. 8, board members voted 4-3 to place Servellon on paid administrative leave.

On both sides of the split board, trustees have declined to disclose the reason behind Servellon’s suspension, which district officials have described as a “personnel matter.”

“Because the district does not comment on personnel matters, no further comment will be made regarding Ms. Servellon’s employment status,” district spokeswoman Isabel Gonzalez has stated.

During a special meeting Sept. 8., board President Orlando Lopez and trustees Rudy Corona, Ariel Cruz-Vela and Alex Reyna voted to place Servellon on paid administrative leave.

Meanwhile, board members Oscar Medrano, Frutoso Gomez and Mario Silva cast dissenting votes.

In September 2022, the past school board’s majority appointed Servellon to the superintendent’s position, signing her to a three-year contract paying an annual salary of $203,400 after she had served about six months as interim superintendent.

As part of her contract, the agreement states the school board could have terminated Servellon based on the two parties’ “mutual” consent.

“This contract may be terminated by the mutual agreement of the superintendent and the board in writing upon such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon,” the contract states.

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The contract also allowed board members to dismiss Servellon “for good cause.”

“The board may dismiss the superintendent during the terms of the contract for good cause in accordance with the Texas Education Code Sections 21.211, 21.212 (d), board policy and any reason constituting good cause under Texas law,” the contract states.

Theresa Servellon

Based on the contract, the school board could have bought out Servellon’s contract, paying her two years’ worth of salary plus benefits, if trustees terminated the agreement without cause.

“If the superintendent is not terminated for cause, the parties agree that the district shall pay the superintendent a lump-sum payment to fully compensate the superintendent for the entire value of all salary, medical and health benefits, all stipends to include longevity stipend and the supplemental payments to the teacher retirement system of Texas due under the remaining term of this contract,” the contract states.

Earlier this year, Servellon’s leadership became an issue during a bitter May election in which voters flipped the board’s balance of power, returning Lopez and Corona to office, leading a new majority, including Cruz-Vela and Reyna, to take the board’s control.

Since the board’s past majority appointed Servellon to the superintendent’s job, Lopez, Corona and Cruz-Vela questioned some of her actions on issues including San Benito High School’s assignments to the principal’s position and her administration’s decision to order a halt to a $40 million bond-funded construction project amid questions surrounding two buildings’ foundations. 

Meanwhile, some board members claimed Servellon withheld district information from them.

On Wednesday, Servellon did not respond to a message requesting comment.

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Before taking the district’s top administrative job, Servellon had served as the South San Antonio school district’s chief academic officer.

Previously, she served more than 20 years with the San Benito school district, taking a job as director of secondary curriculum and instruction after working as a principal and teacher.

Servellon holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Texas State University.

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