Exclusive: Former Hearne ISD superintendent responds to TEA investigation

Rusty Surette The former superintendent of Hearne schools is willing to return to the troubled district to help turn things around, he said Monday in an exclusive interview with KBTX's Rusty Surette.

The Hearne school board voted in July to release Raul Nuques after only 7-months of being on the job.

Board members said he failed to maintain a good rapport with trustees, but a new report from the Texas Education Agency tells a different story.

The TEA's investigation made several disturbing discoveries during its interviews with board members, staff members and others. It's noted in the investigation that Hearne ISD has gone through 5 superintendents in the last five years and blamed the board for its ongoing issues.

Nuques says he was aware of the challenges in Hearne when he accepted the job, but holds no regrets and no grudges.

The former superintendent says he held more than 170 meetings with parents during his time there, and made some unpopular decisions along the way, but he says each decision was in the best interest of the students.

"The smaller the community, the more difficult it is because you're dealing with personal feelings. You're dealing with family, friends, relatives and it's very difficult," said Nuques.

Recommendations by the TEA now include getting rid of all the board members and bringing in outside resources, including a conservator, to take over.

Nuques says these aren't empty threats and he wouldn't be surprised if the state considers a complete shut down of the district.

"How would a taxpayer in Hearne feel about paying taxes for their kid to go to a different district? Think about that," he said.

Despite the turmoil and a sharp division of the board, Nuques says there's still time to right the wrong, and he's willing to take another crack at it. He says it'll take, patience, and the willingness to work together - but he'll do it.

"Everyone has to be held accountable from the Superintendent all the way to the custodians. Everyone must be on the same page", said Nuques.

Nuques and his family have stayed in the Bryan-College Station area following his time with HISD, and he's working on building and expanding his education experience through programs at Texas A&M.

He does worry that the negative headlines during his time in Hearne will make it a challenge for him to land another job as a superintendent in a different area.

"Do I regret any of the changes I made? No. Did I follow policies and do the right thing for the kids? The answer is yes," said Nuques.

The Hearne School Board will meet next Monday to discuss how it will respond to the TEA's preliminary report and recommendations.