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San Diego School Leader Heads To Houston

San Diego Unified School Superintendent Terry Grier praises teachers and students for making big gains on state tests scores.
Ana Tintocalis
San Diego Unified School Superintendent Terry Grier praises teachers and students for making big gains on state tests scores.

San Diego Unified School Superintendent Terry Grier officially accepted Houston's top school job yesterday. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says his last day in San Diego Unified is a week from today.

Grier is wasting no time leaving San Diego. In his resignation letter to the San Diego Unified School Board, Grier says his last day at district headquarters will be next Friday. After that he's taking about three weeks of vacation before he begins his new job as Houston's school superintendent.

Grier flew to Houston with his wife Nancy to formally accept the position. The Houston Chronicle reports Grier's multi-year contract could top roughly $400,000 a year, including bonuses. That's substantially more than what Grier was earning in San Diego.


San Diego Unified expense records indicate the district spent at least $240,000 to secure Grier as its superintendent last year.

That's not as expensive as other superintendent searches because the firm that recruited Grier did the search for free. The company volunteered because its previous selection, former superintendent Carl Cohn, left the district after two years. Grier, on the other hand, is leaving the district after just 18 months.

Meanwhile, San Diego Unified school trustees will hold a news conference today to talk about who will lead San Diego Unified once Grier heads to Houston.

San Diego school trustee John de Beck says the board has been considering top-level internal candidates to be the district's interim superintendent.

The leadership change comes as San Diego Unified wraps-up its first full week of classes in the new school year.


School board president Shelia Jackson says this whole experience has been a teachable moment.

“The conversation right now, really, should be about how we're moving forward. And if someone is transitioning, why do they transition?” Jackson said. “Again, using this as a teachable moment. Not a moment to discredit anyone. Not the board or not Dr. Grier.”

Jackson says the board plans to take its time in finding a permanent replacement for Grier. That means the interim superintendent will have to manage a linty of serious budget issues and new academic reforms this year.