Hinojosa Looks On As DISD Trustees Discuss What to Do About Interim Superintendent

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Photos by Patrick Michels
Outgoing Superintendent Michael Hinojosa tries to pretend he doesn't know who Carla Ranger is talking about.
Whoever set the table before last night's DISD board meeting had to be kicking themselves once the trustees got started, with dead-serious Carla Ranger yet again calling for soon-to-be-ex-Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's immediate removal, saying an interim replacement would be a waste of money, and wondering in veiled terms about other employees' plans to remain with the district, while the usually easygoing Hinojosa sat stone-faced next to her, trying to find his happy place.

The purpose of last night's meeting, of course, was to start talking about naming an interim superintendent to step in after Hinojosa heads to Georgia in June, and the board came away with plans to simply keep talking it over next Tuesday, with a list of internal candidates and a little more legal advice.

It was Ranger's proposal, though, to scrap the interim superintendent search and wait out the gap between superintendents with a council of DISD officials that got most of the talk. Other trustees worried the district would screech to a halt the instant such a council disagreed on something, but Ranger said a small group of leaders already in the district -- their head legal counsel, chief of staff and chief financial officer, for starters -- would be a quick, cheap way to move ahead.

"These are the people we know," Ranger said. "They are in the district. And as far as we know, they will be here." Over the year or so a superintendent search could last, she said the board should look for interim leadership that won't need time to learn how the district works.

"We're in a severe budget crisis right now and any dollar we save is money we can put toward saving teachers and saving our schools."

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Flores argues against revolution, while Morath prepares to dig into his book of Shakespeare references.
Edwin Flores was among the skeptical majority, worrying about what he called, "this 'revolutionary council idea' -- I forget what the folks in Iran call it," and that Ranger's proposal grind the district to a halt without a single leader to hold accountable. "You'd have nine superintendents up here," Flores said. "I am telling you that in a year, this is what we'd digress to, and we'd have board meetings every two days."

The district's lawyers told Ranger they'd let the board know if an "administrative council" would be technically legal, speculating it ought to be fine as long as trustees named one of the administrators interim superintendent.

"It's sort of, 'A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet," Mike Morath pointed out -- whatever the board decides, they'd have to pick someone to replace Hinojosa on paper. It was one of a few moments last night when Morath sought common ground in Shakespeare. Earlier, he wondered aloud whether "to interim or not to interim" when choosing a new superintendent.

Ranger's proposal didn't get much traction with other trustees, but all seemed to agree they should choose a temporary replacement for Hinojosa who knew Texas law and DISD policies -- either someone from within the district or a recently retired superintendent from nearby.

Finally, Ranger tried to make good on a suggestion she made on her blog last week -- that Hinojosa get out now. She tried to make a motion to place him on administrative leave, "so that we can move forward in a more healthy way. She was quickly hollered down by trustees -- it wasn't a motion-making kind of meeting, they reminded. Instead, she made her point: "I'm very concerned that we have the superintendent still on duty at a time when we are making some very critical decisions," she said.

Since Hinojosa announced his coming departure, folks like the Dallas Morning News and mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings have suggested it's an opportunity to hire a bold, visionary, strong new leader.

For now, though, it sounds as though trustees are looking for an interim superintendent who just won't screw things up any worse -- a manager, not a visionary, Eric Cowan suggested, someone who'll work with district staff who already know what they're doing. "We have four very professional chiefs who are not going to let this ship go down sinking."
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East Texas P1
East Texas P1

I live in East Texas and don't have a dog in this hunt, but I watch with interest.  I believe the best thing to do is have Carla Ranger resign her seat on the board and two seconds later be voted to be the interim superintendent, with full approval to come in a few months.

Probably won't happen because she has too much political history (read "infighting") but in my opinion this woman is fearless.  Put her in charge!

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Anybody BUT Donna Micheaux, Ivonne Durant, or Claudia Rodriguez--even as an interim.  I literally do not know a teacher who respects any of the 3.

Alan King, the money guy, would be fine.

All we need is someone to approve (or DISD's case-- stop approving) checks.

TEA sets the curriculum, parents supply the children, principals hire the teachers.Principals and the flotilla of remaining bureaucrats can handle what needs to be handled.

We don't need a superintendent.Imagine the cost savings.

For that matter, we don't really even need a Soviet Central Comrades Office; just fund the schools directly and have the money guy cut the checks off when a school is not performing.

Likeicare
Likeicare

I agree with Ms. Ranger on all her ideas. 

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Thank you Mrs. Ranger for saying what many of us believe.  Hinojosa should not be making decisions for a district where he will not be the superintendent. The nerve of him to make suggestions on how the process  for interim superintendent should be.

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

Trustee ViewSonic has something to say!

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

As always, Ms. Ranger comes across as the only sensible, intelligent, authentic member of the DISD board.

OC Teacher
OC Teacher

Flores cracks me up, what with that whole "hold a single leader accountable" thing. Name me a single time Flores has attempted to hold Hinojosa accountable for anything. Crickets....crickets....

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Remember his quote after the bond proposal passed and the delayed audit was released:  "Were not criminals were just incompetent."   No truer words spoken.  They are incompetent (except Ranger)

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Yeah, the leadership council thing was a bad idea.  There's a reason a car only has one steering wheel. 

The interim supe selection doesn't seem that hard.  Figure out which of the executive chiefs want the interim job (I'm sure one does), name that person, and start the permanent search.

Catbird
Catbird

strong visionary leader? ok, just as long as she is hispanic/black and democrat and will "work" with the powers who now own dallas county...

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

Flores is worried about not holding a single leader accountable. Well he must have been living on another planet because the DISD trustees - except for Carla Ranger - have not held Hinojosa accountable for anything, including the financial crisis/layoffs of a few years ago, many ethical issues, execs who leave taking bonus money designed for teachers, making a head of HR with no HR experience or education, wasting money (renting meeting rooms in high dollar hotels), trying to go to Las Vegas (reward him with a contract extension), making false promises ("I want to be here for a long time"), signing a 3 year contract extention, and then quiting 3 months later.  Accountability in DISD is a joke - well, DISD is a joke.

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