Karen Garza, the superintendent of the 30,000-student school district in Lubbock, Texas, will be headed north to take the reins of the Fairfax County schools in Virginia. Garza, who has also served as second-in-command in Houston, will be the first woman to lead the 181,000-student school system.
Garza will succeed Jack D. Dale, who is retiring after nine years as the district’s superintendent. Dale’s nine-year tenure makes him unusual among superintendents in the nation’s largest school systems, where many superintendents stay for only a few years.
Fairfax County, which encompasses many of the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., is the nation’s 11th largest school district. The county’s demographics have been changing, with more immigrants moving into the county and the share of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch growing. Significant budget cuts—including a salary freeze for teachers—earned Dale his share of critics. But the district has maintained a strong academic reputation.
School board members in Fairfax expressed excitement about Garza’s experience as a teacher and an administrator in rural, suburban, and urban school districts, according to the Washington Post. Garza began her career as a kindergarten teacher, and has also worked as a lobbyist for the Texas Association of School Administrators and a curriculum supervisor. She has a doctorate from the University of Texas-Austin.
Garza announced her resignation from Lubbock’s school system yesterday. She had been superintendent in that district since 2009. The Fairfax school board plans to finalize its decision later this month.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.