Education News

Former Assistant Superintendent for Special Ed Could Return to HISD

Houston Public Media obtained a copy of the resignation agreement that shows Sowmya Kumar got paid for the rest of the school year and agreed not to sue the district.

Former HISD Assistant Superintendent Sowmya Kumar resigned amid reports of denial of services for children with disabilities.
Former HISD Assistant Superintendent Sowmya Kumar resigned amid reports of denial of services for children with disabilities.

In March, HISD’s assistant superintendent for special education resigned because of reports children with special needs were denied services.

But the door is open for her return, as Houston Public Media has uncovered.

When HISD administrator Sowmya Kumar was pressured to leave her post over special education, she and the school district negotiated her departure.

Houston Public Media obtained a copy of that agreement. It shows that Kumar, who had a six-figure salary, got paid for the rest of the school year and agreed not to sue the district. It also states that Kumar is eligible to work at HISD again as an employee or consultant, as early as September 2017.

“This is a benefit that was negotiated for this administrator that well up into 99 percent of the other employees who leave under these types of clouds, if you will, don’t get,” said Chris Tritico, a legal analyst.

Tritico has worked on settlements like this for other educators and said that he doesn’t see this very often.

“It is a rare occasion that when you have someone with this much public scrutiny and this high-profile situation, that you get a settlement agreement that says they’re almost immediately eligible for rehire,” he explained.

When Kumar resigned, there was growing scrutiny over families struggling to get services for their children with disabilities.

There’s also an ongoing federal investigation into a statewide policy that has discouraged schools from providing special ed services for over a decade.  That federal report is expected this summer.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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