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Michael Hinojosa is stepping down as Dallas superintendent. But will he step up and run for mayor?

Man in blue suit, gold tie, white shirt, graying hair and mustache is at wooden lectern with sign on it reading 'Dallas Independent School District.' To his left is another man in blue suite, dark tie, white shirt, wearing a mask. Farther to his left is a Texas flag and a single file line of 8 men and women, all wearing face masks, looking on.
Bill Zeeble
/
KERA News
Dallas superintendent Michael Hinojosa answers reporter questions about his resignation and whether he'll run for office, as some speculate. "I'm not stepping down. I'm stepping up."

After leading the Dallas Independent School District from 2005 to 2011, and again since 2015, superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he'll resign at the end of this year. He could be ready sooner though, depending on when the board chooses a new superintendent.

Long-time Dallas superintendent Michael Hinojosa this week said he would step down from the job he’s held since 2015. He’d also led the district from 2005-2011. Officially, he said he’ll resign at the end of the year, but the timeline could be accelerated. He indicated he’d leave when a replacement is found. He also addressed speculation that he’s considering a run for public office. The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

On why he chose to leave before the end of his contract

Well, I could stay to the end of my contract, which would have been two more years. But if I do this now, the district's in its best shape possible. And the board can be very deliberate about picking the next leader. They can take their time and do this right.

On whether this is a retirement

I'm not stepping down on anything. I'm going to step up!

On whether the departure from the district means he may run for Dallas mayor in 2023, as some have speculated

My sole focus for the next six months will be as superintendent of the Dallas ISD, to make sure we land this plane for this year, in the pandemic. I will talk about the future when that comes.

On what he wants in the next superintendent

Someone has to be familiar with the political landscape in Dallas…the issues with race and class, and someone who has a good understanding. Sometimes, someone has to learn the superintendency, or they need to learn the community, or they need to learn the board. So all of those are challenging. But if there is someone who has all of those, whether they’re a current employee or they worked in the system, those are the ones that have the best chance of success.

On whether he wants his deputy chief to succeed him (In 2020, the district hired Denver’s Superintendent, Susana Cordova, to be Dallas ISD's Deputy Chief. Some believe she was hired to be the next superintendent.)

That's the board's job to do. (picking a superintendent)

On whether he has a recommendation for the next superintendent

If they ask me I’ll have an answer, but that'll be confidential because the whole superintendent's selection process is confidential.

On whether current culture battles between Texas officials and school districts are a reason for his departure

 In my case, absolutely not. I love my job. I still love my job every day, and I will love it until the next superintendent is hired. But these cultural wars are wearing people out. I have friends that tell me this job - they didn't sign up for this. Those of us that have fought urban battles, we know we've been having this forever. But now that they're creeping into the suburbs and other areas, it is wearing people down. And in Dallas County, we have a lot of vacancies for superintendent right now. So I think it has an impact and I'm not going to apologize for being outspoken. It just doesn't apply in my case.

On his favorite accomplishments and his biggest let-downs

I'm so proud of this P-TECH program, where kids get an Associate's degree when they're in high school - their lives are changing forever. I'm also very proud of our dual language program. We now have the best dual language program in the country, and our English learners are achieving a lot. Of the things that I'm disappointed in - I haven't fixed procurement. Our procurement process is still hard to deal with. And the other thing - we’ve moved the needle some for African-American achievement. We haven’t moved it enough.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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