Although state law allows the evaluation to be kept confidential as part of an employee’s personnel file, Marietta City Schools routinely makes its superintendent’s evaluation public.
The Journal filed an Open Records Request for Hinojosa’s evaluation, which the board
completed in May after a one-hour executive session.
Spokesman Jay Dillon wrote in reponse that the evaluation is privileged under O.C.G.A. 20-2-210(a).
But school board member David Banks, who represents northeast Cobb, said he wouldn’t have a problem with at least a summary of the board’s feedback on Hinojosa being available to the public.
“The board should be as transparent as possible,” he said. “It’s a very critical area as far as the school system is concerned. To me, the public ought to know how the board views the status of the superintendent.”
Banks said his only complaint about Hinojosa relates to communication between he and the board, though Banks declined to say more.
Hinojosa took the helm of the 105,000-student district on July 1, 2011, succeeding Fred Sanderson, who retired. His contract will be up for renewal in next June.
Cobb’s board chair Scott Sweeney did not return calls for this story.
Board member Alison Bartlett, who represents west-central Cobb, agreed that the evaluation should be kept confidential.
“The point of reviews is to improve a person’s behavior,” Bartlett said. “I don’t think if you’re dealing with subjective worlds and specifically political worlds, it should be available to the public.”
Bartlett said her only complaint regarding Hinojosa’s performance to date relates to the political side of his job.
“Unfortunately, superintendents’ jobs are very political. Dr. Hinojosa understands the nature of that beast and he’s very effective at it. That sometimes frustrates me because I’d rather go in a straight line from A to D, rather than A, B, C, D,” she said. “The path that (the district) chooses to take is sometimes different, not wrong.”
The things she’s been pleased with are communication efforts between he, the board and administration, the new principal selection process, and Hinojosa’s visibility in schools.
“I am always hearing schools say, ‘He visited me today,’” she said. “That says a lot that he’s out and about in his community, not sitting in an office.”
Bartlett said that she’s been able to have a more “open and honest” dialogue with Hinojosa as superintendent and that she doesn’t feel patronized by the administration.
In July, Vice Chair David Morgan proposed the board rewrite the superintendent’s evaluation so that it incorporates more measures of accountability. If the board approves that new format this month, it could go into use next year.
Besides incorporating more data on factors such as the graduation rate, Advanced Placement participation, the percentage of students exceeding on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test and End-of-Course Tests, individual school performance, fiscal management, board/superintendent relations and stakeholder satisfaction, most of the new evaluation will be made public, according to the superintendent himself.
Hinojosa said the only portion of the evaluation that would not be made public refers to board/superintendent relations, which accounts for 15 percent of the evaluation.
Bartlett said the new evaluation tool is a “step in the right direction.”
“Since it’s a smaller document it’s easier to focus on it … the goals we’re setting show scores and improvement,” she said.
For Marietta City Schools, board chair Jill Mutimer said the board spent several hours in executive session discussing superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck’s goals and performance, and then gave their feedback in open session.
“The code does say that the evaluation shall be kept confidential,” Mutimer said. “However, that is really a protection for the Superintendent. If the Superintendent approves making the evaluation document public, it is OK to do so.
“We have been doing this since Dr. Lembeck became Superintendent,” Mutimer said. “It is just a practice of MCS.”