Some say they never really knew Hinojosa. The school chief said he will rejoin his family in Texas where he led the Dallas school system before becoming Cobb’s superintendent in 2011.
Hinojosa revealed his thoughts on that upcoming move in a Tuesday interview with The Dallas Morning News.
“It’s like we never completely left,” he told the newspaper.
His comment struck a nerve with school officials.
Cobb School Board chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said she’s never been invited to his home nor has she ever met his wife.
Hinojosa rents an upscale condo off Monhegan Way in Smyrna, another source told the MDJ.
Angelucci said, “I guess I’m concerned that the superintendent would make a comment that would seem as if he was never part of Cobb, that if he’s never left, that’s very concerning. We certainly had hoped and he certainly made it clear to our community that he loved Cobb and that he was a part of Cobb, so it was a little disconcerting to read that.”
Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, said she wasn’t surprised by Hinojosa’s remarks. Jackson said teachers have gotten the sense that his attention was elsewhere.
“I think Dr. Hinojosa’s heart was always in Dallas,” Jackson said. “I think he did his best, but with a piece of him always remaining in Dallas.”
Board to meet this weekend
Angelucci is calling a special meeting this weekend for the board to decide how to respond to his announcement.
“We are getting a lot of questions and inquiries, and it’s difficult to answer anything at this point because we haven’t met as a board to discuss it, and we just feel that it’s imperative we meet sooner rather than later even though we have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday,” she said.
Angelucci would not reveal whether she wanted Hinojosa to serve out the remaining months or step down earlier.
“To be honest with you, until we really can sit down and talk as a board and hear from our attorney and even from the superintendent, because it’s a personnel issue we need to sit down as an entity, we need to sit down as a board, and discuss this as a whole, and at that point if the board comes to a decision as early as this weekend, then obviously we would comment on it, but at this point it’s just not fair to throw anything out there,” she said.
What to do about Finlayson’s allegations?
The MDJ reported on Wednesday the school district’s former chief investigator, Mary Finlayson, alleged she was fired after she tried to probe two of Hinojosa’s top deputies she believed were involved in questionable practices, including the use of a teacher to help prepare doctoral dissertations for administrators.
Finlayson said Michael Shanahan, the school district’s human resources director, shut down an active investigation into allegations that a teacher was being pulled out of class in 2011 to work on doctoral dissertations for her school principal and also for assistant superintendent Angela Huff, who is now Hinojosa’s chief of staff.
Angelucci said Finlayson sent the board a letter in August.
“We were assured when the last letter was brought to us that the district was investigating the allegations,” Angelucci said.
Angelucci said she intends to ask Hinojosa the status of that investigation.
“The board would like to find out from the superintendent and the district where we are in the investigation, and what we currently know so that we as a board can decide what our next step is,” she said. “We will discuss it at the next work session in executive session.”
Board member David Banks said he had thought of a potential solution to Finlayson’s allegations that he planned to present to the board on Wednesday.
“I have a solution, but I am not going to reveal it,” Banks said.
Banks believes his solution rectifies Finlayson’s accusations with “the least amount of cost.”
Randy Scamihorn, the board’s vice chairman, said it’s Hinojosa’s responsibility to handle the dispute.
“My opinion is the board should oversee getting this resolved, but we are not in management, so we have no direct authority to tell him who to fire, when to hire or what to do,” Scamihorn said. “The board is at the governing level. We set policies. We are not at the managing level, one employee is. The superintendent is charged with leading and managing our company, the district.”