DPS Superintendent Resigns After Tough Two-Year Tenure

Susana Cordova has worked as the superintendent of Denver Public Schools for less than two years.
Susana Cordova has worked as the superintendent of Denver Public Schools for less than two years. Evan Semón
Following a challenging tenure as superintendent of Denver Public Schools that lasted less than two years, Susana Cordova has announced her resignation.

"I was never in a position before in my career where I felt like I could step away from Denver, but when this opportunity came up, I felt like it was the right thing to do," Cordova said during a November 13 press conference where she announced her departure. Cordova will be taking a job as a deputy superintendent for Dallas Public Schools; her last day at DPS has not yet been determined.

The Denver School Board will select an interim superintendent and ultimately oversee the selection of a permanent superintendent.

Cordova's resignation follows months of the Denver Public Schools struggling to strike a balance between public health and in-person education, with middle and high schools currently remaining in remote-learning mode.

She started the DPS job at a tough time, too. After being named superintendent in December 2018, Cordova was immediately thrust into contentious bargaining with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which lasted for the first six weeks of 2019. At one point, teachers even went on strike, only to eventually come to an agreement with the district after just a few days out of the classroom.

About a year after the teachers' strike, the coronavirus began shutting down Colorado, ultimately leading to public schools moving to remote learning in Denver during the spring of this year.

Tiffany Choi, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, offered this comment on Cordova's resignation: "We'd like to thank Susana for her 31 years of commitment to DPS and wish her well in her journey."

Cordova said she was recruited for the Dallas job. "I actually wasn’t looking for a new position," she explained. "I have been very dedicated to the work that we’ve been doing in the Denver Public Schools."

Michael Hinojosa, the current superintendent in Dallas, is a mentor, she added: "When this opportunity came up, I felt like I really owed it to myself to consider it. I feel like I have learned a lot in the Denver Public Schools and have a lot to offer, but I’m also excited to learn a lot in a new place."

Cordova, a DPS graduate who worked for decades in the district, was the DPS deputy superintendent before she was offered the superintendent post. In a statement announcing her departure, she said that she is especially proud of the work the district has done to "position equity at the core of our identity."

Cordova also expressed pride in what she did to help "change the tone and tenor of the relationship with our teachers and school leaders," she said. "We are a more collaborative district, and I have built systems and structures to sustain this work going forward."
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.