A previous post on DISD interim superintendent Michael Hinojosa was followed by over a hundred comments, many making suggestions for ways the district could be improved, at least from a teacher/student standpoint.
Tawnell Hobbs of the Dallas Morning News interviewed Hinojosa and captured his thoughts on his new job with DISD. Reprinted here are the questions and answers , with interpretation following. For the full article, go here.
Q: Would you want the job full-time? You seem pretty excited to be back.
A: I’m pretty excited to be back. It’s very premature at this point. I’m not going to say I wouldn’t be a candidate. Eventually it’s the board’s decision to make. It’s very, very premature. …They all like me right now, but they might not like me in a few months. (laugh) But I’m not going to tell you, “No, I wouldn’t do it.”
Interpretation: Gosh, it’s nice to be back making $25,000 a month, which figures out to be $300,000 a year, in addition to my retirement pay! I could get used to that!
Q: Have you been keeping track of what’s going on in the district since you left?
A: From afar. I watch, I read the reports. …I watched some transformation initiatives, so I’ve been paying attention. But I didn’t know much of the inside scoop. I’m just going on kind of what you guys have been reporting, what I see on the outside, but nothing on the inside. That’s why I’m going to take my time over 10 weeks to find out stuff on the inside that I really wasn’t aware of
Interpretation: Um, I’m not saying nuttin’ that’s going to get me in trouble.
Q: So I guess you haven’t formulated any thoughts?
A: One thing that I already know since I talked to the board the other night, most are very proud of the staff, they’re very proud of some of these reform and transformation initiatives, so I think they like the stuff. …But I’ve only talked to board members (He says he will talk to community members, staff members, cabinet members and unions.) …I’m going talk to all these people. Once I hear from everybody, get all those points of views, I might have a different opinion.
Interpretation: I’ve talked to “some” of the board members and I know on which side my bread is buttered.
Q: When you first came to DISD, you spent the first 100 days talking to people. What’s your plans now?
A: I’m starting with board members, individual community people and then, of course, I’ll talk to cabinet persons, some of the principals. …I’m not the permanent superintendent, but still I need to know this information. So that’s what I’m planning on doing. That’s what I’ve always done in every district. That’s what’s always helped me get started on the right foot.
Interpretation: See above. I’ve talked with some community members and now I definitely know which side my bread is buttered on. I fully expect to get a fair and reasoned evaluation of the district from current staff and principals, because they are scared shitless I will fire them. [ Any individual community people you know of that have been contacted by Dr. Hinojosa? ]
Q: Any programs at the forefront you want to take a deeper look at?
A: It’s too early. They’ve had a lot of things that’s been done. It’s too early to say at this point.
Interpretation: That’s about kids, I’m not here for the kids.
Q: What happens with the three principals who were fired by former Superintendent Mike Miles, although the majority of board members voted to keep them around. Will you look at it?
A: I’m not going to talk about individual personnel matters. (He said he will let the appeals process run its course, which includes rulings from independent hearing examiners.) So something is going to happen there, because the independent hearing examiners’ decision goes back to the board.
Interpretation: That’s not my problem, see below.
Q: What happens with Tonya Sadler Grayson? (She’s the human resources executive who has been embroiled in controversy, including not disclosing her criminal history.)
A: I’m not going to comment on personnel matters.
Interpretation: You’re not going to snooker me into saying anything controversial. Or even take a stand on anything. Except the bond. Always and only the money. That’s why I’m here you know, I need everyone to trust me, so this kind of controversial stuff is off limits.
Q: They’re talking about possibly having a bond election in November. (The last bond election to pay for new schools and improvements was in 2008 under Hinojosa).
A: I’m a big fan of that. I’ll jump out in front of that one right now. I think we need to do it. That’s something that I have a lot of experience in. I’ve done it in every district I’ve been in – in Spring, in Hays, in Cobb, in Dallas. It’s been a long time since ’08. And I think that’s something that we need to jump on right away. I will be talking to the Citizens Council and other people about that, board members. I will put at the forefront of my activities.
Interpretation: Finally you hit on the reason I’m here! Friendly face and all, let’s go out and shag a few balls together, what do you say? Nobody in this town really gives a damn about education, as long as we have some bond money to keep us rolling! Never too premature to talk construction. I’m all over that. Hey, Mr. Citizen’s Council, did you hear what I said? Do I get to keep this job?
Q: There are some people that say morale is low. We’ve heard it from a lot of teachers. How do you plan on dealing with that?
A: That’s a few months away. They’ll be back in August. I haven’t even thought too much about that. I’ve heard that. …You want people to be happy. People that aren’t happy won’t stay around. Now they won’t always get their way, but it’s certainly an issue that we can agree to disagree on. You know, how we make decisions. (He said it’s an issue to take up when the convocation to welcome back teachers gets close, later in the summer). It’s way premature at this point.
Interpretation: Like I said, nobody gives a damn about the teachers and the kids. I’m “all over” the bond, but the kids? Premature to think about them.
And does anybody really believe Hinojosa is here for any other reason?