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Little Elm superintendent announces intentions to retire at the end of 2023

Daniel Gallagher, who has served Little Elm ISD since 2017, has been in the regional spotlight since a rash of controversies at Little Elm High School this past fall

LITTLE ELM, Texas — Little Elm Independent School District superintendent Daniel Gallagher announced on Monday his intentions to retire from his role at the end of 2023.

Gallagher's last day as Little Elm ISD superintendent, a post he had held since 2017, is slated to come on Dec. 31 of that year -- more than 22 months after his Monday announcement date.

Gallagher is now the 10th North Texas superintendent to announce plans to step down from his or her role since November 2021.

A press release issued on Monday said that Gallagher would remain in place in his role in Little Elm -- located some 30 miles north of Dallas -- in the meantime "in order to assist the Board of Trustees with the transition of leadership."

"I wanted to announce my plans early to allow for our Board of Trustees to begin the planning process of hiring the next superintendent to lead this wonderful district," Gallagher said in the press release. "I am very proud of the work we have accomplished... and [I] look forward to assisting our Board of Trustees with a transition plan."

Little Elm ISD's Board of Trustees will begin discussing its search for Gallagher's replacement at a future meeting, the press release said.

The release also quoted Little Elm ISD Board of Trustees president David Montemayor as praising Gallagher and applauding "his ability to build a strong culture of collaboration both within the District and between the District and the community."

"[We] highly value the progress made in our District under Superintendent Gallagher’s leadership," Montemayor said in the press release. "Gallagher has been a tireless visionary for Little Elm ISD since becoming the Superintendent. Along with the Board, Gallagher has focused Little Elm ISD and its stakeholders on providing opportunities that align with our mission to Engage, Equip and Empower each student to realize their full potential. This vision culminated in the single focused goal for all of our students to achieve success beyond high school graduation.”

For all the praise Montemayor showered Gallagher with in Monday's press release -- the letter further congratulated the soon-to-be-outgoing superintendent on opening two middle schools, along with various new athletic and operations facilities, plus more -- controversies at Little Elm High School have kept Little Elm ISD in headlines in recent months.

In November, a student protest over frustrations with how administrators were handling allegations of on-campus sexual assaults devolved into chaos that led to the arrests of four students and saw videos circulating on social media showing police using pepper spray and tasers on students.

RELATED: 4 students arrested after 'major disruption' at Little Elm High School during planned walkout, officials say

In a joint video statement that followed that incident, Gallagher and Little Elm mayor Curtis Cornelius blamed "misinformation" among the student body and the "crimes" of a few students -- including one student allegedly spitting on an officer -- for the police's heavy-handed response.

RELATED: Little Elm ISD superintendent, mayor issue joint video statement about student-led protest and police use of force

Public listening sessions between parents and administrators, a whole lot of angry finger-pointing and an internal investigation that found Little Elm ISD's response to claims of on-campus discrimination and Title IX violations were "not a systematic failure" followed.

RELATED: Little Elm ISD releases report following investigation into student protest over sexual assault claims

Recent controversies at schools across North Texas -- including debates over vaccinations, masks and even books carried in libraries -- are considered likely contributing factors in high volume of burnout educators in the region are facing.

Those issues seem a likely culprit in the rash of superintendents stepping down from their posts as well. 

With his announcement on Monday, Gallagher follows in the footsteps of superintendents from Dallas ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Plano ISD, Northwest ISD, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Richardson ISD, Mesquite ISD, DeSoto ISD and Lewisville ISD, each of whom has either retired from, left or announced their intentions to leave their positions since Nov. 2, 2021.

That makes at least 10 independent school districts across North Texas searching for new leadership.

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