Higley Unified School School District takes back new superintendent contract amid controversy in Texas

Members of a Gilbert school district's governing board have cut ties with the man who was set to be the district's new superintendent.

The vote by Higley Unified School District's board to take back the contract it offered to Dr. Nate Carman took place during a meeting on the night of May 8.

"During the Superintendent hiring process that we recently went through, applicants were asked to provide true, correct, and complete applications, including disclosing ongoing reviews of possible misconduct. They were specifically asked to explain any current or past situations that might impact their application," said Board President Michelle Anderson, prior to a vote. "The candidates were notified that misrepresenting or omitting facts could result in rejection of or dismissal from employment. Dr. Carman failed to disclose material facts during the hiring process. The search firm we used also failed to bring these facts to our attention. Had Dr. Carman provided us with correct and complete information, we would have made a different decision, and in our view, his actions constitute just cause to rescind the employment agreement."

Dr. Carman's contract as Higley's new superintendent was approved by the governing board during their Feb. 21, 2024 meeting, in a 5-0 vote. Carman delivered remarks during that meeting.

"I am humbled at being named for this role at such a high-performing and well-respected district," Carman said at the time.

This was not the first time Carman was considered for a superintendent position. In a November 2023 statement, officials with Peoria Unified announced that Carman was one of three candidates for their superintendent position. Carman was not selected for that position.

Carman was embroiled in Texas school district controversy

Carman worked as the superintendent for Socorro Independent School District in Texas, which serves students near the El Paso area. He was placed on paid administrative leave by that district's Board of Trustees on March 25. 

Per a report by El Paso television station KFOX, an outside auditor said Carman was involved in a potential conflict of interest with an Arizona-based architectural firm. The auditors said it appeared Carman steered the district to hire the company for projects in 2022, just as Carman started the superintendent job at Soccoro ISD. The decision to hire the firm in question was reportedly not brought to the attention of SISD's board because the contract was for an amount that fell under a threshold that required board approval.