CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For months in the summer and fall of 2021, the Tuloso-Midway Independent School District Board of Trustees discussed and debated the employment of then-Superintendent Rick Fernandez.
Then, in October, the trustees agreed to a mutual settlement to pay out the remainder of Fernandez's contract, nearly $160,000, in exchange for his resignation.
Some people in the Tuloso-Midway community believed the move was in retaliation for Fernandez questioning alleged grade tampering that benefited certain students.
An attorney for the school board said trustees did not approve of Fernandez's job performance.
No matter the explanation, the school board looked to the future Monday night, in hiring a new superintendent.
Steve VanMatre will fill that position after serving in the same role at Premont ISD.
“He’s made the people (in Premont) proud of their community and their school," TMISD School Board President Paul Mostella said. "He’s done an outstanding job, and we’re hoping that he will bring that to Tuloso-Midway."
A Tuloso-Midway High School student, who didn't have an opinion on VanMatre himself, is happy that the top leadership position within her school district had been permanently filled after months of uncertainty.
“I wouldn’t say controversial, but I mean, there’s been a lot of contradicting opinions on it,” senior Claire Bennett said.
The parent of a Tuloso-Midway Middle School student is encouraged by VanMatre's hiring.
“I felt they would replace (Fernandez) with a good person, and I think they did good," Sara Martinez said.
A fellow middle school parent doesn't think another change in leadership will hurt the district.
“I’m not worried about it — I’m not," Jose Rodriguez said.
VanMatre's first official day on the job will be June 6, and school district leaders are looking forward to his arrival.
"He wants to take us forward," Mostella said. "And that’s the main thing — to bring new, innovative ideas for our children and our district — to improve everything and to make everyone proud of our district and to make it the stellar district that we’ve always been."