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Leadership Shake Up At SAISD's New Tech High School

Paul Flahive
Kelly Flieger, now Isbell, at a recent tour of the construction on CAST Tech

San Antonio Independent School District is changing principals at CAST Tech High School, just a few months before their inaugural freshman class is set to walk through the new doors.

A week ago, CAST Tech high school principal Kelly Flieger -- who recently changed her last name to Isbell -- showed up at SAISD's board meeting and pleaded for her job.

"I am here to address an issue on your agenda and that is the non-renewal of my contract," she said.

Isbell argued that the non-renewal was wrong, that she had executed on all areas of her contract. She says she was non-renewed based not on established metrics but on the murky statement of being in the best interest of the district.

"I have not received a single email across this entire year --or a letter that says I have ever done anything poorly. So I would ask you to recognize the challenges of politics in this particular situation," Isbell said. 

Leslie Price is the Communications Director for the SAISD.

"Well, I don't know what's meant by politics."

She says the district doesn't comment on personnel issues, but that Isbell was placed on administrative leave April 20 and will remain on it until her contract ends in June.

"She was on a probationary, one-year contract as we do with employees new to the district, and this provides us an opportunity to learn whether or not someone is the best fit for the role."

Price says it isn't uncommon for teachers probationary contracts to go un-renewed. She didn't know specifically about the frequency for  principals.

Isbell was chosen for the job after a national search.

SAISD announced Monday that they had accepted 175 students into their first freshman class, which is 25 more students than previously slated for.  They have chosen Melissa Alcala from NEISD's STEM Academy to replace Isbell.

**The above story has been updated with the correct date of Isbell's administrative leave.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive