UPDATED to include Thursday’s press conference and reaction to Hinojosa’s announcement.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is apparently going to be one in a recent spate of superintendents to resign their posts, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.
Hinojosa reportedly told fellow Texas superintendents about his resignation earlier this week in a phone call. He told the board of his plans at Thursday’s board briefing.
The reaction was swift.
“The work begins to fill some very big shoes,” District 8 trustee Joe Carreon said on social media after the story broke. “One of the most important jobs of a trustee is to hire the superintendent. We have one of the best.
“I am thankful Dr. Hinojosa has given us adequate notice of his intention to retire. I want the community to know that this Board will be thorough and select a new leader worthy of our kids and district.”
Fellow trustee Dan Micciche, after thanking Hinojosa for his service, said that the board would consider a succession plan soon.
“Dr. Hinojosa is not leaving immediately,” he said.
“Dr. Hinojosa’s willingness to build a collaborative working relationship with the Dallas business community hasn’t just made our work together extremely effective, it has redefined what it means to ensure that a student is truly “career ready” in Dallas,” said Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber. “It is bittersweet to see his tenure come to an end, but he leaves the district much better than he found it.”
“Dallas ISD and the Dallas Mavericks have made it a point to leverage our collective influence to improve our city in numerous ways, including during some of our most challenging times,” said Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall. “I’ve been blessed to have Dr. Hinojosa as my partner in this effort, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
“Dr. Hinojosa’s partnership during multiple crises including the relocation of students impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the 2019 tornado, and the COVID-19 global pandemic was essential in ensuring our county response was effective,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “There is nothing better than having a person leading a major city organization who is willing to be a collaborative partner when the going gets tough. I’m happy to have had the chance to work with him for so many years.”
Hinojosa said his remaining time with the district would be focused on helping the district continue to navigate its response to COVID-19 and the learning difficulties that have accompanied it, and helping with the search for his replacement.
Hinojosa’s announcement caps off a 42-year career as an educator, from being a teacher, coach, assistant principal, central office staff member, and superintendent for five different districts in both Texas and Georgia — including two separate stints as superintendent at Dallas ISD.
Hinojosa will serve as superintendent through the completion of the 2021-2022 school year while the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees conducts a search for his successor. He will remain on staff until December 2022, to help transition the district’s new leader.
“I’m very proud of what this district has accomplished,” he told reporters during a pause in the meeting. “It’s taken a lot of blood and sweat and tears.”
Hinojosa pointed to what the district achieved during his two tenures — most recently, a trajectory that has marked the district as one of the most improved urban districts in the country, and earned the district the distinction of best large school district in the state last year by H-E-B.
But Hinojosa’s departure is one of several across the country, and one of three locally – Richardson ISD superintendent Jeannie Stone and Mesquite ISD superintendent David Vroonland have departed or will soon depart, and Thursday saw an additional big-city district superintendent announce he would retire — Kent Scribner with Fort Worth ISD.
Hinojosa said that he knows that superintendents are leaving in what seems like droves, and that many attribute it to the political climate — but his decision was based on the fact that he felt the district was so improved that he could hand the reins over to someone new.
“I love my job, and I love my job every single day,” he said, saying the cultural and political wars didn’t contribute to his decision, but that he knows it is “wearing people down.”
“I’m not going to apologize for being outspoken, but it doesn’t apply to my case,” he said.
He said his decision boiled down to a desire to see new blood continue the work of improving the district.
“I could’ve finished my contract,” he said. “But they (school board trustees) need to find someone who can keep this magic going for 10 years and 20 years.”
He was also adamant that his decision wasn’t negative.
“I’m not stepping down, I’m stepping up,” he said, adding that stepping down seems negative. “I’m not dying.”
“I am going to exit as superintendent. My last official day will be Dec. 31, 2022,” he said. “I will be around for the foreseeable future, certainly through that date.”
But he also said he’s not sure what he’s “stepping up” to — rumors have had him running for Dallas mayor, but he was quick to deflect that when asked.
“I’m very focused on landing this airplane in the next six months,” he said. “This is not about me, and not about my future.”
He was clear, though, that he wasn’t retiring — he was resigning. His wife, he said, wouldn’t let him retire.
“I tried that one time, and she said, ‘Get a job!'” he said, laughing.
School board president Ben Mackey said that the board wouldn’t make any official moves until the next board meeting at the earliest, but that the search process would start in January, and would include public input.
The goal, he said, would be to have a superintendent candidate identified by the spring, and in place before the start of school next year.
“This is just the beginning of this process,” he said.