DENVER, Colo. — Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova announced Friday she is leaving the district for a job in Dallas.
"Having the opportunity to lead the school district where I started as a student and then became a classroom teacher has been an honor — it’s an incredibly meaningful and important part of my life. The Denver community is where I grew up, where Eric and I raised and educated our children, and where I've spent my entire career as an educator. It has meant so much to me — as a student, as a teacher, as a mom and as a leader," Cordova said.
Cordova accepted a position in Dallas Independent School District as the Deputy Superintendent of Leading and Learning.
"Dallas is a district that, I think, reminds me a lot of the Denver that I grew up in. It's an incredibly diverse district, serving a large student population, many of whom are students of color, the majority of whom are students of color, who are low-income, who are students learning English as a second language," Cordova said. "There are amazing, innovative things that are happening in Dallas."
In a press conference Friday afternoon, Cordova said she was not looking for another opportunity when she was approached for the job in Dallas. The Board of Education Vice President Jennifer Bacon said they have not yet considered who will serve as interim superintendent. She said leadership learned a lot from their 2018 search and they're hopeful the insight will help with a smooth transition.
Cordova has spent 31 years within DPS. Denver Board of Education members unanimously selected Cordova to lead Colorado’s largest school district in December 2018.
She is a DPS graduate and has spent her professional life serving DPS children and their families as a bilingual secondary teacher, principal of a high-needs elementary school and administrator.
"I am sad to be leaving Denver, but I will be eternally grateful to everyone I have worked with and learned from over the past decades," Cordova said. "I will work with the Board and the senior-leadership team over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition, and I want you to know that Denver will forever be home to me."
In a statement, Northeast Denver Innovation Zone Executive Director Vernon Jones wished Cordova well and promised to push for positive paradigm shifts for students at DPS.
“Superintendent Cordova represented us, Denver. A student who became a teacher, a principal, and a superintendent of the very district that raised her. We should have learned from her lived experiences and allowed it to inform the shifts and the supports necessary for all children within our district," Jones said. "She took the job in the shadow of a previous superintendent that had lost all credibility with and connection to community. I believe she paid the price for him, which makes me sick to say the least."
The announcement comes as the COVID-19 pandemic bears down on the state, leading to several school districts switching to remote learning in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Cordova and Denver Public Health’s Director Dr. Bill Burman pleaded with people in Denver to follow the city and state’s public health guidelines to avoid the same fate. About 100 central office staffers, including some campus safety officers, have been assigned to full-time responsibilities at schools and other central office staffers, including Cordova, were working one day a week at schools.
The new position in Dallas won't come without its challenges. According to a report from WFAA, a Dallas ISD school board trustee called the learning loss this year "devastating" and the "worst-case scenario that could've happened." Overall, 30% of students lost learning in reading and 50% of students lost learning in math, compared to performance numbers in December 2019, according to data presented at the meeting.
"We're talking about a generational impact here to children," Dallas ISD school board Trustee Dustin Marshall said. "We've got to act boldly and quickly."
It has not been determined when Cordova's last day with district will be.
This story is developing and will be updated.