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He's Back: Michael Hinojosa Is Dallas ISD's Interim Leader

Bill Zeeble
Former Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa takes his seat at the late Friday school board meeting where he was named interim leader after trustees accepted Mike Miles' resignation

A familiar face is returning to the Dallas Independent School District. Michael Hinojosa is back – as the district’s interim superintendent.  On Friday night, the Dallas school board named Hinojosa the interim leader after Mike Miles resigned last week. 

Dallas school trustees gave outgoing superintendent Mike Miles $275,000. That includes a separation fee of $125,000, as well as $150,000 for his three years with the district.

Some trustees rejected that package, wanting Miles to get nothing. 

But they voted unanimously for Michael Hinojosa to be the interim leader. He led the district from 2005 to 2011. Trustee Lew Blackburn laid out the deal.

“He would be employed on an at-will basis and he will be paid $25,000 per month during his service,” Blackburn said.  

Because the district is closed for a few weeks, School Board President Eric Cowan wanted to jumpstart the superintendent search by hiring consulting attorney David Thompson. His firm has helped other districts find leaders - from Highland Park and Plano to Lewisville.

But several trustees, including Blackburn, were worried.

“Tonight’s action could give some people the perception that a deal has been made,” Blackburn warned. “It could give some people the impression that we don’t want to open it up to allow other search firms to even be considered.”

So the board will look at other search firms in July.

Board President Cowan is happy that Hinojosa is on board.

“Part of his role as interim superintendent is to go out and recruit for a new superintendent who can come in and that would allow for a smooth transition. Cause we can take our time, we can actually hire a superintendent and have a very smooth handoff,” Cowan said.

Hinojosa has been back in Dallas for a year since leaving his last superintendent job in Cobb County, Georgia.

Hinojosa says he’ll oversee reforms started by Mike Miles, taking direction from trustees.

Sometimes, interims are asked or told not to apply for the permanent job. Hinojosa says that’s not the case here.

“I’ll be here as long as they need me,” Hinojosa said, “for as long as they want me. So it just depends how long it takes. I’m not going to say no. If they decide they want to talk to me about it, that’ll be their decision. But I’m not going to have a contract, I’m here till they pick their next superintendent whoever that might be.” 

The last superintendent search took almost a year. Trustees want this search to be shorter. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.