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SAISD Superintendent Finalist Explains Financial Record, DL Suspension

The lone finalist for the superintendent position at San Antonio Independent School District is under fire for his previous record, which includes a tax lien, a suspended license and charging money to a district credit card.

Manuel Isquierdo does not come to SAISD with a clean financial record, but he did have explanations for each of his accusations.

The tax lien is more than $150,000, an amount he said was due to a foreclosure during the housing crisis. He charged $12,000 to a district credit card that he ultimately paid back, and he had a temporarily suspended driver’s license due to traffic tickets.

"I’ve made some missteps in my career, and some mistakes I do regret, and some have been unavoidable, and some have been at a pursuit of other greater things," Isquierdo told the press.

Isquierdo did disclose some of the information to the board beforehand, but his progress at the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tuscon - his current position - seemed to overshadow any discrepancies.

While at Sunnyside, Isquierdo was able to raise graduation rates from 74 percent to 83 percent and decrease dropouts from 6 percent to 3 percent. He used a program he designed called Project Graduation, which offered laptops to strong performing students among other incentives.

Patti Radle, an SAISD board member, said even with the tainted history she still believes he is a man of good character.

"We want high character, we want a model," Radle said. "I think he can be that model but there are things that happened three, four, five years ago that people are going to want explanations for."

While at Sunnyside, Isquierdo was making $305,000 per year and hinted that he would not be willing to take a pay cut.

The district plans to hold several meetings for the public to meet the prospective superintendent, the first of which is next Thursday.

The district must wait 21 days to officially hire him for the position according to state law.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules