in Houston, Texas
As Houston ISD considers bond vote, head of construction for district resigns over ‘inefficient’ bureaucracy
Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 04:57PM CST
By Mike Cronin
quit sign

Issa Dadoush presented a letter to his boss on Monday that excoriated the ways Houston public schools officials conducted their business operations, then resigned. Effective immediately.

“I have addressed my concerns several times with no avail,” wrote Dadoush, who had been head of the Houston Independent School District’s construction and facility services since April 1, 2010.

He wrote his supervisor, HISD Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla, that the district’s “bureaucratic and gatekeeping philosophy” is “not sustainable,” “inefficient” and “exhausting.”

“Our limitations on communicating directly with all stakeholders, including Trustees and other cabinet members, have made it impossible to move this Department to the next level of performance efficiency,” Dadoush wrote. “The ‘muzzle’ that was ordered on me and other department heads has made it impossible to do our jobs effectively.”

Dadoush said this morning that he had no comment. Throughout his tenure, Dadoush had been accessible and responsive in answering questions from Texas Watchdog.

Superintendent Terry Grier said via email that he “enjoyed (his) working relationship with Issa.” Grier declined to respond to Dadoush’s critique of HISD, saying that he does not “comment on personnel issues.”

HISD board President Mike Lunceford said in an e-mail that “Mr. Dadoush was very well qualified for his position and will be missed. I am asking the Superintendent to review Mr. Dadoush’s comments carefully because in all resignation letters there is always some truth to their concerns.”

District parent Mary Hintikka was not happy to hear Dadoush had departed.

“Issa Dadoush has contributed to much needed positive change in HISD,” Hintikka wrote in a Wednesday letter to Trustee Harvin Moore and Lunceford. “I know LEED-certified architects in the community who say Mr. Dadoush was a leader in bringing green sustainable design and best practices to the City of Houston. It's my understanding he has helped to inject this much needed, overdue vision into HISD. … However, the politics, policies and practices of closed-door communication across the district is seriously problematic and impedes that vision greatly.”

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a system for measuring the sustainability of buildings used by engineers, builders and designers.

Dadoush summed up one paragraph in which he identified several structural shortcomings: “The bottom line, ‘we are spinning our wheels.’”

Grier announced Dadoush’s and Bobadilla’s hirings two years ago in the same posting on HISD’s website.

“(Dadoush’s) extensive experience will be valuable to HISD, as he will be leading the district's maintenance and operations, grounds, utility management, custodial services, and property management—all of which are important to creating a high-quality learning environment at every HISD school,” Grier said in the announcement.

Prior to accepting his position at HISD, Dadoush was director of general services for the city of Houston. He oversaw facilities management there as well.

Bobadilla held a position comparable to COO at Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. Bobadilla and Grier worked together in North Carolina.

Dadoush steps down as district leaders consider whether to put a bond referendum to the voters for new school construction and renovations. Grier floated that idea earlier this year.

“HISD is currently gearing up for the bond program work to be done over the summer at schools, and I hope this does not cause any setbacks or major problems,” Lunceford said.

The Council of the Great City Schools, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that advocates educating “all urban school students to the highest academic standards,” applauded HISD in May 2010 for hiring Dadoush. Council auditors had conducted a review of the district’s construction and facility services to offer ways HISD officials could make improvements.

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of 'We quit' sign by flickr user windy_sydney, used via a Creative Commons license.

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Comments
Warren
Saturday, 05/26/2012 - 03:20PM

Issa is first rate. If he resigned out of frustration, then HISD needs fixing.

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