As he announced his resignation, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa won praise Thursday from community leaders who worked with him.
The leaders said the district must choose another strong superintendent to keep progress going, as rumors swirl about Hinojosa's future.
“We must make sure that we get someone here that understands equity, that understand that all kids matter,” Dallas ISD Trustee Maxie Johnson said.
Johnson was a strong critic of Hinojosa during the fight to get better improvements for South Oak Cliff High School.
In 2015, SOC students staged a walkout over a leaky roof and generally poor condition of the building.
Pastor Johnson was a parent and community leader at that time, before getting elected to the school board.
“We fought for equity. We fought for a nicer school,” Johnson said.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Johnson said part of the reward of a total reconstruction of the school and much better facilities Hinojosa eventually supported was SOC’s recent state football championship.
“It says that if you give kids resources, we can perform, and we can achieve,” Johnson said. “I have a mixed report card, but I can say that lately, I believe Dr. Hinojosa has taken the district to a higher level.”
Improvements completed at many other campuses and work still underway at others are more examples of the physical improvements to the district from two large public improvement bond referendums passed by voters during Hinojosa’s tenure.
“I think the community said to him, ‘great job, and we believe you can do more with more,’” Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell said.
Sorrell dealt with Hinojosa professionally and also observed the district’s accomplishments.
“It’s been really pretty impressive, the growth of choice schools, and doing it in a way the district could develop a sense of pride,” Sorrell said.
Hinojosa also received credit for academic improvements from educator and LULAC leader Rene Martinez who cited expanding dual-language programs, hiring more bilingual teachers and putting district finances in order with a strong fund balance.
Martinez, who is now a college-level instructor, said he has known Hinojosa since the superintendent was a teenager.
“He’s considered the dean of superintendents in the state of Texas and really parts of the southwest,” Martinez said. “Whatever he plans to do, I wouldn't bet against him. I would bet that he's going to do a great job, just as he did with the Dallas Schools.”
Hinojosa also received praise from Dallas City Council Member Jaime Resendez who is a former Dallas ISD Trustee.
“He is a Dallas legend. He is a significant factor in leading Dallas ISD in a positive direction. He has helped shape initiatives throughout the state of Texas,” Resendez said.
Resendez said the success of the City of Dallas is tied to the K-12 education system so it is crucial that the school district choose another strong leader to continue the district’s success.
Resendez said he has heard the rumors about Hinojosa considering a run for Dallas Mayor.
“Dallas has never had a Latino mayor so I think it's important that at some point in the future for that to happen. It's not my place to say whether or not Hinojosa should run for Mayor,” Resendez said.
Paul Quinn College President Sorrell, who is also a keen Dallas political observer, said Hinojosa’s success has earned him political capital.
“I think it certainly has brought him a next act,” Sorrell said. “When you look at what he has done, it certainly has afforded him the opportunity to say ‘This is what I would like to do next’ and have people take him seriously.”
Hinojosa declined to discuss his future plans Thursday. He told Dallas ISD Trustees he will stay on the job until they select a replacement.
“Whatever decision he makes, I'm going to pray for him that he does well,” Johnson said.
Some trustees have said they want a nationwide search for a replacement while some already favor as a possible replacement an administrator hired by Hinojosa a year ago.
Current Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson declined an interview request through a spokesperson who said Johnson was out of town Thursday. Johnson has not said whether he intends to run for re-election in the May 2023 municipal election.