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‘I wish I could say more’: Judson ISD gives vague explanation for superintendent's abrupt departure

Jeanette Ball holds her ID card while opening an external door to a school.
Camille Phillips
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TPR
Jeanette Ball demonstrates using her ID card to buzz into an elementary school ahead of Judson's 2022 bond election.

A little more than a week after the board of trustees for the Judson Independent School District accepted Jeanette Ball’s immediate resignation as superintendent, the district released a joint statement on Ball’s sudden departure.

In the joint statement, Ball and the board said her resignation was “in their respective best interests and the best interests of the District.”

The statement was cordial and respectful, and it commended Ball for the success of the district under her leadership. But it didn’t explain why she abruptly left the district in the middle of the school year.

Ball was appointed superintendent of Judson in the summer of 2018 and was under contract through 2025. Her resignation agreement included a $140,000 payment — a little more than half of her annual salary of $250,000.

In an interview with TPR, Judson Board President Jennifer Rodriguez said she recognized that the public knows something unusual happened and wants to know the reason Ball left so abruptly, but she said she couldn't reveal much.

Fields13.jpg
provided
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Judson ISD
Milton (Rob) Fields is serving as Judson's interim superintendent.

“I absolutely empathize with that, and I know that we as a board recognize that we will need to continue to deepen — build trust with the community.” Rodriguez said. “I wish I could say more, but I want to make sure that we're respecting all parties.”

When asked whose idea it was for Ball to resign, Rodriguez said it was “mutually agreed upon.”

Rodriguez said she couldn’t comment on whether Ball’s annual evaluation the week before was connected to her resignation, or if it was connected to a legal matter, a contract breach or simply a difference of vision.

“It's the right time right now for her to move on,” Rodriguez said.

Ball did not respond to TPR's requests for comment.

On Thursday evening, the Judson school board voted to formally appoint deputy superintendent Milton Fields as interim superintendent. Fields has led the district since Ball’s resignation last week.

He is a graduate of Judson High School and an Air Force veteran with a doctorate in educational leadership.

“The Board is confident in the ability of the administrative team to continue the work of the District in educating students, supporting the staff, providing resources to families, and strengthening relationships within the community,” a statement released by Judson spokesperson Nicole Taguinod said.

She added: “Led by Fields, the team will work hard to ensure a smooth transition as the Judson community navigates this change.”

The board also voted Thursday to begin the process for hiring a superintendent search firm. They plan to gather community input on the characteristics they want to see in the next superintendent.

Judson is San Antonio’s fourth largest district, with more than 24,000 students.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org, on Instagram at camille.m.phillips and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.