Comal ISD Names New Superintendent with ‘Whole Child’ Approach to Education
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (CFBISD) Supt. John Chapman will replace Andrew Kim as superintendent of Comal ISD.
The announcement came at Comal ISD’s board of trustees meeting Monday.
A 21-day, state-mandated waiting period now begins to allow for negotiations and vetting before Chapman officially assumes the position.
Kim resigned in June citing personal reasons. Mandy Epley, the district’s assistant superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and Programs, is interim superintendent.
“We took the superintendent search for Comal ISD very seriously,” Board of Trustees President Jason York said in a statement released by the district. “We listened to feedback from community members, parents and staff and paid very close attention to the details. We made our decision for not only current students and staff but for future students and staff of Comal ISD. I firmly believe that we got it right.”
Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) described Chapman’s lifelong passion as “educating the whole child” in a leadership spotlight posted to its website on July 26, 2021.
“Success should not be measured on grades alone, but on acquiring new skills and working toward being better than you were the previous day,” Chapman said in that interview. “In today’s age of accountability, we cannot lose focus on educating the whole child, not just the partial child.”
CFBISD Chief Financial Officer Steve Bassett said Chapman understands children’s struggles because of hardships he experienced as a child.
“His passion is evident in the way he cares for students and his staff by developing programming that will benefit all families,” he said.
When Chapman arrived at CFBISD in 2018 he scheduled open-office hours several times a week and invited staff, community members, and current and former families to share their ideas and suggestions.
CFBISD launched several initiatives aimed at meeting the most-basic needs of the “whole child,” including free counseling services and family meals, TASA said.
The organization quoted Chapman as believing change starts at the top of an organization and that finding individuals with a “servant heart” and a strong desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children as critical to educating students.
The administrator was recognized as the 2017 Region 10 Superintendent of the Year for his work as superintendent of Ennis Independent School District.
Chapman, who has worked as a school superintendent for 17 years, also served as superintendent in Chillicothe and Comfort ISDs. He also was recognized as Superintendent of the Year for Region 13.
He began his career in education as a teacher and coach in Lubbock and served as an assistant principal, junior-high principal and high-school principal.
Chapman has a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech University, a master’s degree in Mid-Management from Wayland Baptist Universit,y and a bachelor’s degree in Science of Education from McMurry University.
He is married and has two sons.
According to the Texas Tribune, there were 24,804 students enrolled in CFBISD during the 2020-21 school year. Fifty-five percent of those students were considered at-risk of dropping out of school and 34.5% of students were enrolled in bilingual and English-language learning programs.
The average teacher’s salary was $61,166, some $4,025 higher than the state average.
There were 25,368 students enrolled in Comal ISD over the same period. Thirty-four percent of these students were considered at-risk of dropping out of school and 5.6% were enrolled in bilingual and English-language learning programs.
Despite its diversity, CFBISD came under fire in March 2021 for a multiple-choice question on a sixth-grade exam which asked “Which one of these Chinese NORMS is TRUE? A. It is normal in China to cut off someone’s lips if they burp in a restaurant. B. It is normal in parts of China to give children fifty lashes by a cane if they steal a piece of candy. C. It is normal in parts of China to eat cats and dogs.”
Joy Lim, a vocal critic, took a photo of this question, which appeared on her younger sister’s remote-learning social studies quiz. Three teachers were subsequently placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
A Change.org petition by DFW Chinese Alliance garnered 53,437 signatures.
Chapman apologized, saying the district respected differences and fostered a welcoming environment where all children belong.
He also posted this video March 31 on the district’s YouTube channel.