Riehl's Career Had High and Low Points

Almost eight years to the day Dr. Tony Riehl was hired as NISD Superintendent. He had his first day on the job with NISD on July 6, 1998. The former Dripping Springs superintendent was hired because of his success with school bond elections. After a controversial move of reassigning long time principals Riehl successfully led the effort to pass a $42-million school bond election.

By the following year the bond's success was overshadowed by low TAAS scores and a TEA investigation of special education. With new board members the lengthy behind closed door sessions began. The board was split on Riehl's contract renewals. In 2004 Riehl cleaned out his office giving the impression that he was quitting. At the time Richard Fischer was the board president. In an earlier interview he said, "Dr. Riehl told us in September that he didn't think he was the right man for the job anymore because the relationship with the teachers, the community, with the board were not effective any longer, and he told us he wanted to leave."

Riehl had no intention of leaving. Instead Riehl began a medical leave for a digestive disease. All this in the midst of a School Performance Review that showed the district in the red. Top administrators abruptly resigned, followed Thursday night by Riehl's resignation.

Board member Leann West read from a prepared public statement. "Dr. Riehl will remain on leave through August 31, 2006. On September 1, 2006, Dr. Riehl will receive a payment of two months of his contract salary and benefits."

Some in the district speculated that Riehl was never fired because of the large buyout in his contract. Board members agreed that had to be taken under serious consideration. Riehl's gross salary is almost $16-thousand a month plus benefits. His contract would have been up June of 2007.

Board members are not commenting beyond the public statement. Dr. Riehl also declined an interview. The search for a new superintendent will begin immediately. Retired Lufkin superintendent Dr. David Sharp will continue filling in.