After 13 years at the helm of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), Michael Hinojosa announced his departure effective this coming December.
As superintendent of the 16th largest school district in the US, Hinojosa created a universal curriculum, expanded dual-language programs, expanded high-quality early learning, shepherded the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) and Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) programs, and established early college and Pathways in Technology initiative among other achievements.
“It’s been one of the proudest moments in my life to do this work bringing innovation, equity, collaboration, and achievement to the forefront of urban education,” said Hinojosa in a post at DISD’s The Hub.
“Today is bittersweet, because it’s been such an honor to work alongside some of the sharpest minds and talents. My departure comes at this time knowing the team is poised to move the district into the 22nd century,” he said. “As a young immigrant growing up in Oak Cliff, education was always the great equalizer. Now more than ever, let’s look to the future with hope and aspiration when shaping the lives of our next generation.”
Led passage of largest bond in Texas history
Hinojosa led the passage of the largest bond in Texas history in 2020 bringing improvements in DISD facility and tech infrastructure, and in 2018 he pushed for a tax ratification election to bring millions of dollars into the budget for innovative strategic initiatives.
He graduated from Sunset High School in Oak Cliff and began a 42-year career in education at W.H. Adamson High School. Over that career Hinojosa taught, coached, and served as assistant principal, central office staff member and superintendent for five districts in Texas and Georgia. He served two terms as DISD superintendent, initially on an interim basis from 2005-2011 and again beginning in 2015.
DRC CEO notes key Hinojosa accomplishments
Dallas Regional Chamber CEO and President Dale Petroskey lauded Hinojosa for several key accomplishments.
“Under Dr. Hinojosa’s leadership, Dallas ISD has become a model for how to improve urban school districts across the nation, and throughout Texas,” Petroskey said. “In fact, key provisions of HB3, passed and signed into law by the Texas Legislature in 2019, used the successes of Dallas ISD as an example for all other school districts in the state to transform how teachers get paid, how schools get improved, and how school districts are funded.”
A few numbers speak to his leadership, Petroskey noted:
:: The list of Dallas ISD schools classified “improvement required” dropped from 43 in 2014 to 4 in 2018.
:: Dr. Hinojosa led the push for P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) high schools in Dallas ISD. Today 90 companies partner with Dallas ISD to help educate students so they can work in their specific industries, more companies than any other school district in the nation—by far. This gives Dallas ISD students a head start to finding a good job to start their careers, and it gives our companies the qualified, hard-working employees they need.
:: In 2021, 910 Dallas ISD students graduated with a two-year associate degree and a high school diploma on the same day, roughly 10% of Dallas ISD’s 2021 senior class.
“Dr. Hinojosa has always been a reliable and enthusiastic partner with the DRC in our efforts to help make the Dallas Region the best place in America to live, work, and do business,” Petroskey added. “He’s energetic, a good listener, which leads to him being a creative problem-solver, and a sound decision-maker under pressure. That’s why so many people trust him and like working with him, and why Dallas ISD has taken such big strides forward under his leadership.”
Hinojosa pursued a theme of collaboration
One theme of Hinojosa’s tenure was partnerships with various players in the private and public sectors along with innovative policies and programs. The DISD Board of Trustees are conducting a search for a successor while Hinojosa serves as superintendent through the completion of the 2021-2022 school year and remaining on staff through December to help with the transition to a new superintendent.
A roster of leading civic supporters stepped up to praise the superintendent.
Dallas ISD Board President Ben Mackey says Hinojosa changed what’s possible for public education in America by “cultivating an innovative, evidenced-based culture and having the boldness to continually make tough decisions that put kids first while bringing stability to our system.”
Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall added, “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. I’ve been blessed to have Dr. Hinojosa as my partner in this effort, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Sen. Royce West, himself a longtime champion for Dallas ISD, says Hinojosa “came to do a job, and he accomplished it.” West said the education innovator “steered Dallas ISD through calm, choppy, and yes, even treacherous waters, and never lost sight of the value of a good education.”
West says Hinojosa will be remembered largely for his “exhaustive work to ensure every Dallas ISD student receives the quality education they deserve.” Those efforts will live for students and their families for years to come, he said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has worked with Hinojosa on many issues, including the Dallas County’s COVID response.
“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,” Jenkins said in a statement. “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.”
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax echoed Jenkins’ sentiments, adding that “Dr. Hinojosa made it clear to me very early that a strong city government-school district relationship was a major priority of his, and he’s stayed true to that belief ever since. I’m certain our collaboration has been to the benefit of the residents of Dallas.”
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price also weighed in, “The Dallas Public School system has seen its share of dynamic changes in demographics, personnel, and paradigm shifts. Not to mention, its operation under a court order. However, Dr. Hinojosa has been the principal visionary throughout the district’s most challenging periods..”
Hinojosa’s “ability to create strong teams and deploy superior talent has made all the difference,” he said.
This story was updated January 19, 2022, to include new quotes and information from Dale Petroskey.
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