Cobb School Board chair criticizes Superintendent
by Jon Gillooly and Megan Thornton
June 27, 2013 12:17 AM | 7653 views | 25 25 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Almost two weeks after Cobb School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn directed Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa to send an email to all county staff correcting the misinformation spread by one of Hinojosa’s administrators, the superintendent finally got around to sending the email Tuesday. 
 
“It’s questionable as to why it took nearly two weeks to do that,” Scamihorn told the MDJ on Wednesday. “I don’t know why it took two weeks to do that.”
 
Not only did Hinojosa take his time in sending out information to correct the misinformation from his central office, the words which he used in his message were less than memorable, Scamihorn said. 
 
“It was bland and robotic. I don’t know how I would give it a passing grade,” Scamihorn said. 
 
Hinojosa’s Tuesday email sent to the district’s “entire organization,” begins by stating that on “On May 28, an email was sent to a group of mathematics supervisors and teachers. The email contained misinformation about a recent vote by the Board of Education to not purchase mathematics textbooks at this time. Because the email was forwarded widely and encouraged staff to contact Board members, I am sending this clarification to all staff to ensure that anyone who received the email will now have the facts on this matter. I regret that misinformation was conveyed, however, it is important that moving forward all employees have accurate information about an issue that has a critical impact on our district curriculum.”
 
Hinojosa ends his email by noting that he attached a “frequently asked questions” flier to address the key points of the math topic. 
 
The attachment contains an opening statement by the district’s chief academic officer, Amy Krause, who writes: “As discussions continue around the adoption of learning resources for mathematics, questions continue to arise. We regret that recently information was distributed that may have added to the confusion.”
 
The board vote referenced by the superintendent took place in April when it voted 4-3 against a $7.5 million purchase of math textbooks affiliated with the Common Core standards. 
 
Following that vote, a May 28 email blast from Michelle Mikes, Cobb’s math supervisor for grades six-12 — with the subject line “share with your department” — urged recipients to make sure administrators, teachers and parents know the School Board voted against using SPLOST III funds to buy the math textbooks.
 
“So, there will not be any new resources at all for at least the next six years,” Mikes inaccurately writes, going on to erroneously add that math funds could be used instead to build “a playground or something of that sort.” Mikes also urged recipients to attend the next School Board meeting and speak during the public comment period.
 
As her email spread throughout Cobb County, Scamihorn directed Hinojosa to correct the record June 12. Hinojosa agreed at the same meeting that he would do so in a matter of a few days, although it has taken him almost two weeks to make good on his promise. 
 
“I would have done it differently,” Scamihorn said of Hinojosa’s email. “I would have been more expedient on my apology, and I would have been more thorough in stressing the positives that are available to us, and I also would have been more forthcoming that the board has not abandoned the teachers, that we are searching for an economical but adequate support for our teachers. That’s what I would have stressed.”
 
Board member Brad Wheeler said he would always be concerned if the school district sends out false information. 
 
“In this issue, it’s a trust issue and some credibility, I think,” Wheeler said. “We need to depend on the district (staff) working with us and they need to have the same expectation back from us.”
 
Wheeler said Hinojosa’s email addressed the problem, but he did question some of the wording. 
 
“It ‘may’ have caused trouble? It did cause trouble!” Wheeler said. 
 
Wheeler also thought the email would have come sooner. 
 
He regretted there wasn’t a better way to correct the record with the general public. 
 
“What about those people in the public that received second and third generation of this thing (email)?” Wheeler asked. “Once again, here’s this credibility issue with the public.”
 
Scamihorn said he had a number of follow-up questions for Hinojosa. He said he would like to see the superintendent send out a more comprehensive set of “frequently asked questions” about the textbook issue. 
 
“Do they (in the central office) concur that we could send out another email explaining what others are doing and how we can approach this, and that the board is still searching for acceptable alternatives?” Scamihorn said. 
 
Scamihorn said he had hoped the superintendent would send out an email explaining what other school districts are doing.
 
“What is Cherokee County doing? What is Bartow County doing. How are they not doing it without books? Those things are not being communicated to our staff, which is causing the mistrust and the hurtful feelings because they feel like we’ve abandoned them,” Scamihorn said. “I’m not even sure in the frequently asked questions if they listed the options that I have suggested. I have not received any initiatives from the staff as to how they may approach this.” 
 
In a recent speech to the Cobb GOP, Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge said prior to his election as state superintendent he was curriculum director for the Bartow County School District.
 
“We haven’t purchased textbooks in Bartow County for years because of the budget cuts,” he said.
 
Knowing districts have been in a financial crisis, at the state level he is developing visual resources that districts may use for free, he said.
 
“In fact, we have over 100 Georgia Virtual School courses online. Every one of those courses has its own digital textbook. It’s free to use,” Barge said. “Now I know not every district in the state, not every school in the state has a computer for every child, but the teachers have access to all those resources,” he said.
 
Refusing to approve the textbooks was more of an economic than ideological decision, Scamihorn said. 
 
“People want to drag us into the Common Core and that is a factor,” he said. 
 
But the issue with the board majority who voted no, Scamihorn said, is that there is a possibility Common Core will be repealed in next year’s legislative session. The governor could veto the bill, but the governor could also be overridden. 
 
“Well, then what do we do with $7.5 million worth of stuff?” Scamihorn said. “So all we’re asking, and this is something that got lost in the misinformation. We’re not asking them to do nothing for six years; we’re asking that we figure out an adequate way for one more year while people above our pay grade figure out either we are or we aren’t (participating in Common Core). So that got lost in the shuffle.”
 
----
 
Hinojosa email to Cobb school staff
 
Dear School District Staff:
 
On May 28, an email was sent to a group of mathematics supervisors and teachers. The email contained misinformation about a recent vote by the Board of Education to not purchase mathematics textbooks at this time. Because the email was forwarded widely and encouraged staff to contact Board members, I am sending this clarification to all staff to ensure that anyone who received the email will now have the facts on this matter. I regret that misinformation was conveyed, however, it is important that moving forward all employees have accurate information about an issue that has a critical impact on our district curriculum. The attached Frequently Asked Questions (see story) address the key points unless the School Board should take further action.
 
Respectfully, Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent
 
 


Comments
(25)
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HS Math teacher
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June 28, 2013
All this is quite interesting. I am a math teacher in the county and a parent of three students who have been affected by all this curriculum upheaval. Let’s refocus on the real issue.

First and foremost, we still do not know what curriculum we will be teaching in 6 weeks. That is an issue at the state level, not our district level. Until we have real, honest leadership at the state level the student in each chair will be at a disadvantage. Please, please, state administrators, bring us leadership! Pick a side and make a decision, good or bad, we need someone to lead.

The second issue, what about books? During the textbook adoption process our teachers just completed, we had some very good options and made some great recommendations. Those books will support EITHER decision the state makes. Some would line up better than others, but the books would have the majority of the content regardless of the state’s decision. So, let’s adopt something that will contain a majority of our content instead of leaving our students with no books at all. We can always supplement and we would have to regardless. Please give us something to work with.

@ HS Math teacher
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July 01, 2013
Districts control curriculum.

State controls standards.

See OCGA 20-2-140;

"...the state board shall adopt a uniformly sequenced core curriculum for grades kindergarten through 12. Each local unit of administration shall include this uniformly sequenced core curriculum as the basis for its own curriculum, although EACH LOCAL UNIT MAY sequence, expand, and enrich this curriculum to the extent it deems necessary and appropriate for its students and communities."

Some in the community also cite that the General Assembly was unaware, nor has reviewed Georgia's education standards... Puzzling when considering the following;

§ 20-2-141. Review of competencies and core curriculum

The State Board of Education shall establish at least once every four years a review of the adopted competencies and uniformly sequenced core curriculum by a task force broadly representative of educational interests and the concerned public. After considering the findings and recommendations of the task force, the state board shall make such changes in the student competencies lists and core curriculum as it deems in the best interest of the state and its citizens and SHALL REPORT such proposed changes to local school systems and the GENERAL ASSEMBLY for review.
Yes, Mikes!
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June 27, 2013
I find it more disturbing that one of the CCSD board members is also a very vocal member of a "concerned" group of women who LOVE to spread their hate of Common Core. This board member then comes to board meetings and is upset that most folks don't agree with her way of thinking--So, she makes sure SHE gets HER people to come to the next meeting in an attempt to sway the public's opinion HER way.

Ms Mikes and her e-mail have been made a "smokescreen" so that this woman and 2 other CCSD board-members can buy a little more time to try and push through their personal beliefs.

I commend Ms. Mikes for doing her job and supporting the teacher's she supervises, by keeping them informed of the board's decisions-

anonymous
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June 28, 2013
Sounds like someone is clueless about how the world operates

And clueless about CCsd rules
EC Mom
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June 28, 2013
Mikes was unprofessional. If she had worked for Home Depot, Coca-Cola etc she would have been fired for her email. The same can be said of Hinojosa, anyone not following the spirit of the directive of the board would find themselves in the unemployment line.
From where?
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June 28, 2013
At the School Board mtg on Thursday night, the rude, booing, anti common core folks,( that were no doubt brought in by board members ) were not all Cobb residents nor young enough to have school age children.

Will these board members stop at nothing to get their way?
Unprofessional
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June 29, 2013
Unprofessional is sitting in a board meeting-- in front of everyone-- rolling your eyes,shuffling papers,and sighing,every time someone with a different opinion speaks. (Ms A)

Moving an issue up the ranks is--Telling your teachers to go sit in on a board meeting and let the (ELECTED) board know their thoughts---- because as a supervisor, it's out of your control.

I guess the board and Ms A don't want to have to take the time to talk to upset teachers. There are too many outside jobs and panel discussions that need their/ her time.
Whiners
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June 29, 2013
So, let me get this straight: 3 board members and EC Mom are whining because they don't want the stakeholders informed and definitely don't want to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers? Classic...
McClure Mom
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June 27, 2013
In 6th grade, the school sent home a flyer recommeding the purchase of textbook supplement that cost $20-$25. We purchased the book, but it was NEVER used. 95% of my child's classwork and homework were printed pages and not from their math textbooks. There has to be a better way to teach math than to waste the districts and parents money on books that are never used.
EC Mom
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June 28, 2013
Same with Wordly Wise books in ES. I think we sent in $15 (had to cover for those that didn't want to purchase), but the books were only half used. I made my kids finish during the summer. Still, if you aren't going to use the books don't ask us to purchase.
Watcher...
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June 27, 2013
Perhaps SACS would consider giving CCSD's Superintendent and Staff a lecture about "RESPECT" for CCSD's Board and Board Chairman.
Teach respect?
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June 27, 2013


I think that respect is something EARNED.

This Board appears to be filled with a group of people who each have their own agenda. Perhaps SACS could teach them how to work together for the good of Cobb's students, then they will be respected.
Watcher...
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June 28, 2013
"Teach respect?"

Please remember that this is an ELECTED Board of Education.

They were elected as a Board of Directors to serve and foster the views of their various constituencies.

Those views may not necessarily, nor are they required to be in agreement with the views of CCSD Educrats!

Teach Respect?
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June 29, 2013
Watcher----

The board needs to remember that they were elected by parents of Cobb students like me.

Not all of us republican voters agree with this board's stall tactics. Most all of us republican voters, vote every chance we get.

Again, respect is earned.
Work Professionally
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June 29, 2013
Watch the board meetings: there is hardly any respect from a handful of board members. They need to learn how to collaborate and work professionally.
Yes Scamihorn
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June 27, 2013
This is the first board member who has made decisions that are best for the district and not a puppet to the superintendent. THANK YOU!
AndyPandy
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June 27, 2013
Mr Scamihorn states that the board is "still searching for an alternative" Today is June 27, 2013. School starts August 7, 2013. They should not be "still searching". They should have an alternative in place by now. CCSD is either "jumping on the bandwagon" or waiting until the last minute. Neither is an effective way for a school board to operate. I'm not sure this school board deserves a big pat on the back yet.
Mike In Smyrna
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June 27, 2013
A simple solution to avoid future misinformation - All email blast should be approved and sent by the Director of Communication. Employees should be reminded, as with any business, hardware and software are property of the business and should not be used for personal agendas.
Insubordination
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June 27, 2013
Maybe the next Supt. will do a better job of keeping the career educrats on Glover St. in line. At a bare minimum, the Board should be able to expect that highly-paid central office supervisors should not openly undermine a Board decision, especially not using false information.
Give 'Em Heck, Randy
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June 27, 2013
Keep holding their feet to the fire, Randy! The folks in the central office think they are in charge and view the Board merely as a nuisance. They frequently lie to you, and routinely treat you like mushrooms: kept in the dark and covered up with excrement.
Backwards
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June 29, 2013
You unfortunately have this totally backwards.
I16
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June 27, 2013
Cobb School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn, Dr. Michael Hinojosa.

QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY

Support for Super
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June 29, 2013
This is such a non-entity that only a couple of people are blowing out of proportion. Hinojosa did the right thing.
Terminate contract
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June 27, 2013
The board never should have extended his contract. I would terminate him now!
So Agree
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June 27, 2013
We're just continuing the blood bath here in the CCSD. We need someone who is going to FIX our problems. I am tired of increased class sizes with reduced support for our teachers and students. We've got to put our kids FIRST and I haven't seen that happening in our district in a long time.
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