Hinojosa goes-a and county school board wonders, ‘Now what?’
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
February 08, 2014 04:00 AM | 12238 views | 31 31 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB’S school board is slated to meet for two hours in emergency session this afternoon — although though events of recent days have left so much to hash through that it would make more sense for board members to bring sleeping bags to today’s meeting.

Topping today’s agenda is what to do about the bombshell announcement at Tuesday’s board meeting by incumbent Super Dr. Michael Hinojosa that he was resigning as of May 31 and heading back to Dallas, Texas. He plans to work as senior VP of a national educational consulting firm, will be reunited with his wife (who never moved to Cobb) and will be able to see more of his 91-year-old mother, he said, adding that she would be “waiting for me with some tamales. I will be very excited to have some good Mexican food for the rest of my life.”

We’re not sure whether that was a commentary on the quality of Cobb’s Mexican restaurants, his mother’s home cooking or both.

Either way — keeping with the culinary theme here — he has dumped a plateful of hot potatoes on the board’s lap.

For starters, should the board retain Hinojosa’s services through May, or pay him off now and send him on his merry way? And there are plenty of other questions, too.

Should the board hire his replacement from within? Or should it go the “national search” route? Should it put pedal to the metal in its search? Or should it appoint an interim superintendent and take a more leisurely approach?

And though not on the announced agenda for the meeting, what should the board’s response be to the incendiary allegations by the system’s former criminal investigator that were reported on Wednesday’s MDJ front page — to wit, that Hinojosa’s current chief of staff Angela Huff and then-principal Sandra Ervin pulled a teacher out her classroom to help prepare their doctoral dissertations; and that another top aide followed “illegal, discriminatory and unethical practices” in one of his hiring decisions.

The MDJ has learned since then that four well-known educators named in the investigator’s letter to Hinojosa are under investigation by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. It also reported Friday that the system did not file a complaint with the PSC against Huff, even though she was accused by the investigator of doing the same thing as Ervin, against whom the system did file a complaint.

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IF THE BOARD chooses to hire an interim superintendent, don’t be surprised if it’s James Wilson.

Wilson is no stranger to the school Central Office on Glover Street. After starting his educational career here as a teacher in 1975, he rose through the ranks to deputy superintendent before winding things up as interim superintendent in 2000 between Superintendents Dr. Richard Benjamin and Gen. Joe Redden. He then went to work for The Facility Group before being hired as Fulton County superintendent from 2004-08. After retiring again he founded Marietta-based Education Planners LLC in 2009, which specializes in bond and SPLOST referendum preparation, financial management and school-construction oversight. In that capacity he developed the project list for Cobb’s most recent SPLOST.

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WILSON is not the only name being floated. Another is state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-north Cobb). Tippins spent 12 years on the Cobb school board including three as chair, and was a rallying point for those who eventually defeated Redden’s proposal to spend $100.8 million in SPLOST revenues to buy take-home laptop computers for every middle and high-school student.

Tippins owns a pipe-contracting company and is an attorney and banker as well, and when it comes to education (and other) matters, as the old commercial used to say, “When he talks, people listen.”

Conversely, that’s also the biggest drawback to hiring him as chair — he’s too valuable in the Legislature, where his influence far outstrips his lack of status as a second-term senator. The Cobb schools, and education in general, could not possibly have a more effective advocate under the Gold Dome.

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THERE’S ALSO BEEN much talk this week that the board should hire Marietta Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck, who won rave reviews for her guidance of the system during the recent Snow Jam — in contrast to Hinojosa’s decision to head home early that day. But Lembeck says talk of her becoming Cobb super is just that — talk.

“I’m committed to Marietta,” she told Around Town. “No one has approached me about that job, and being superintendent of Marietta is what I want to be doing.”

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THREE OF THE SEVEN seats on the board are up for election this year, those of incumbent chair Kathy Angelucci, Scott Sweeney and Tim Stultz. Angelucci has already announced she will not be running again. So the board’s decisions on the next super will play out against a backdrop of election-year politics, with the possibility of three new members on board by January.

Some board-watchers say that scenario lends itself to the appointment of interim chair like Wilson or Tippins, who would step into the job with the institutional knowledge to help steer the system through the budget crises. Then the new board would focus on selecting a permanent chair next spring.

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AROUND TOWN has heard numerous comments in the days since Hinojosa’s resignation that reinforced the impression that he never tried to put down any roots in Cobb.

As a senior administrator at KSU who sometimes interacted with the superintendent put it, “He was here, but he never really seemed to be ‘here.’”

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THERE’S ANOTHER candidate in the growing field of hopefuls running to succeed District 1 Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, who will step down at year end. Businessman Glenn Melson, a 19-year resident of the district, is partner in the personal and business insurance firm Corporate Risk Advisors Inc., and owner of Glenn Melson Insurance Agency. He and his wife, Rene, are active members of Burnt Hickory Baptist Church, where he has led a number of mission trips overseas and directs pre-school worship services.

Already-announced candidates in the May 20 GOP Primary for the seat are Realtor Angela Barner, former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, and retired Marietta assistant Fire Chief Scott Turner.

Politicos say with four candidates now in the race it’s more likely than ever that there will be a runoff and that Byrne will be one of the final two.

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11TH District Congressional hopeful Ed Lindsey will have the opening for his Cobb campaign headquarters from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at 2800 Spring Road Suite D in Smyrna.

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SPORTING A GLOCK tie tack nearly the size of a real pistol — although he says he does not carry a gun — the man billed as “America’s toughest sheriff” was guest speaker at Thursday’s Marietta Kiwanis Club meeting and left with a standing ovation. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., made clear he’s not one to worry about political correctness.

“As an elected sheriff I’m saying whatever I want,” he said.

Arpaio’s positions on immigration and other issues have made him a polarizing figure — an anathema to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, but a hero to many conservatives.

As former Congressman Bob Barr put it when introducing Arpaio, “Someone told me this morning that the only reason I brought Joe Arpaio here is that he’s the only person in the country that can make me look warm and fuzzy. Which is not true. Even Joe couldn’t do that.”

Arpaio, 81, was in town for a fundraiser Thursday evening for Barr, who’s running for the 11th District Congressional seat that includes much of Cobb.

“Bob has the guts to make a decision,” Arpaio said beforehand. “He’ll rock the boat.”

The Barr/Arpaio event that evening attracted a dozen or so protestors carrying signs reading “Not One More Deportation!”

Meanwhile, those in the crowd of 125 at the Kiwanis meeting included Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and Chief Deputy Col. Milton Beck and Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn.

Comments
(31)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
CCSD Supporter
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February 13, 2014
I think Steve Miletto who was GA principal of the year and 2nd runner up for national principal of the year. We lost him to Fulton, but I think we could get him back.
Say it aint Hinojoso
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February 12, 2014
Getting back to the wife and his mother with the tamales was a nice cover story, but what he wanted to say and should have said is "Coming here was a colossal mistake and you can't possibly pay me enough to work for these lunatics any longer!"

East Cobber
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February 12, 2014
Angela Huff has received "favorite" treatment for too long. She needs to be investigated to see if these allegations are true.
Best Candidate
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February 09, 2014
Alice Stouder...look into it.
timeforawoman
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February 09, 2014
Absolutely! She's a smart lady who carries herself well and implies much needed common sense. It seriously is time to hire a woman. Randy Scamihorn would be atrocious as the Superintendent. The guy talks out of both sides of his mouth and is so anti-teacher, it's sad.

We have a REVENUE problem, people. Yes, there are still areas that can be cut but we have a REVENUE problem. We need to raise the mill and stop taking out the budget issues on the teachers.

I sure wish the MDJ would blast out a headline as to how teacher salaries really work. The fools that think they have all this free time and summers off, etc. They are paid for 180 days. That is spread throughout the year. When they are furloughed 10 days, that is 1/18th of their salary. There has been NO pay raises since 2008 and health insurance premiums are shooting up higher. There is about to be a mass exodus of teachers to neighboring counties. The other counties have rebounded from the recession. Why the heck can't Cobb?
David M.
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February 08, 2014
Let CCSD hire Emily Lembeck - replace her with Randy Weiner. Everybody wins. Done.
CCSD Supporter
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February 12, 2014
Why would Emily want to come to Cobb? The budget is going to be a challenge for any super and is keeping some good people from running foe school board. She would not get paid more. Why would she want the headache?
Don't Forget
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February 08, 2014
I hope they are going to discuss in their meeting the complaint brought to Traacie Doe about McEachern's basketball team illegally recruiting players. I don't care about the basketball side of it, but I am worried about the way Ms. Doe and other leaders handle things The "investigation" was handled all wrong and Doe is responsible for that. If she can't handle something like this, there is no telling what else she has mishandled in the past or is currently screwing up. An Area Superintendent should be a little better than this!
knows doe
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February 10, 2014
Tracie Doe is an arrogant tyrant who destroyed many lives while at Timber Ridge. So many good people let go just because she decided she didn't like them - set them up, lied, and had them fired. She has several complaints with the EEOC and quite a few lawsuits pending against her. I don't know how she ended up at the county level, but I hope they figure out soon what a lying witch she is and get rid of her. She will stop at nothing to get her way, so if she wanted to cover up for something illegal, she would have no problem doing it.
anonymous
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February 08, 2014
James Wilson made a mess of the latest SPLOST with estimates that were way off base and gaping holes where numbers should have been. He was able to hide behind The Facility Group when he worked at CCSD, but has been a disaster on his own. Does everyone forget the expose of his bullying and abusive behavior toward state worker Kathleen Mathers...all caught on tape? What about the widely panned report he produced for Dougherty County? If the intention is for Cobb to do better, that doesn't start with James Wilson.
Dave Z.
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February 08, 2014
Hire Dale Gaddis.

He's a past finalist for superintendent with Cobb, Douglas and Jackson county schools.

He's been in leadership roles with the CCSD for many years and under many different supers.

He would be a solid inside hire - no learning curve necessary.
Gaddis?!
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February 09, 2014
Gaddis is terrible. Could never handle his turf including, among other things, running Oakwood into the ground; destroying the one true option for Cobb's at-risk population. We need to improve Cobb. Gaddis is not the man for that task.
Figure it out...
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February 09, 2014
There's a reason Gaddis has always been a "finalist' but never made the cut.
CCSD Supporter
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February 12, 2014
Gaddis did not run Oakwood in the ground. NCLB did. Because of Oakwood's strick attendance policy it would always be a Needs Improvement School that was a mark on the whole county. It was a GREAT school, but NCLB had no flexibility for schools that really left no child behind like Oakwood.It was all about how drop out rate was calculated.
No Way
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February 17, 2014
Gaddis would be a terrible choice. He ran a lot of good teachers and administrators out of his area schools. Want him to do the same for the county as a whole?
Cobb Taxpayer
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February 08, 2014
Hinojosa's "new" job process as a consultant did not start last week. He had to be interviewing during the time his contract was being discussed and voted on. The board should cut the cord with him immediately.

As a going away present, everyone should send him "tamales" so he will want to get back to his mommy's food faster.

Wilson - no way. Baggage and ego.
Here We Go Again
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February 08, 2014
I too would vote for Scamihorn. He's got the experience and seems far more level-headed and even-handed than most of the others (current board members included). He's also shown himself to be trustworthy from what we've seen in the past to present day. I've actually caught him talking to a teacher afterhours in her classroom to get feedback. We could do a lot worse, believe me.

Definite no to Tippins who has too much political baggage as well as his own personal agenda. He can't be trusted to be unbiased and fair for all concerned while wrapping himself in his religious beliefs and forcing them on everyone else at every chance.
Agreed.
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February 09, 2014
Scamihorn is a good and decent public official. He listens, is level-headed and seeks compromise over strong-arming others. He would be a good choice.
Cobb School Advocate
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February 08, 2014
Why is MDJ attempting to destroy Cobb Schools with these suggestions for leadership.

Cobb and and must get a proven young educator who has lead a school in Academic Achievement IMPROVEMENT.

Consider Grant Reveria ? Even as interim ? Get off this old timer stuff and keep Emily with the Blue Devils.

LOVE Grant
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February 09, 2014
Grant Reveria would be WONDERFUL! Great suggestion!!!
WHAT?!?!
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February 09, 2014
Are you mental? Grant Rivera is a disaster of monumental proportions. Keep him out of Cobb FOREVER MORE!!!!
momcomment
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February 17, 2014
Rivera was non renewed. Aka fired. Who needs a Northwestern Cheerleader, that gets a wimpy Special Ed. Degree. Then does not even spend the required 3 years in a class room. He is hid out in an administration office. Then promoted to an Administrator at 3 years.

Vindictive, incompetent, sociopath, rated every teacher as needs improvement, dinged every teacher for allowing cell phones. Fired 10 or 17 Math teachers at Campbell to bring over 8 of his Math teachers from South Cobb in the Riff. The South Cobb ones were Sorry.

Then the treat every student like a thug and inmate, with the sweat pants for dress violations. Girls must dress like the Taliban is in charge.

Thought it couldn't get worse, but Iris and her dark sisters are worse.
Get smart
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February 08, 2014
It is time for CCSD to have a BUSINESS person as superintendent . CCSD is a multiple million dollar business and it needs to be run like a business. Please get rid of Hinojosa now! He is an anchor just pulling us all down.

Randy Schamihorn is a nice man with lots of stories to tell but he is by no means the CEO type of leader Cobb County needs.
Get It Rollin
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February 08, 2014
Let Hinojosa go home to Momma and her tamales this week. Then hire an interim, who holds it together & makes does NO hiring,until we hire a permanent superintendent. Look internally and advertise nationally. This county has a lot of good to offer anyone who moves here.

And don't wait until the new board members are elected to start the process. There should be NO politics involved in the hiring anyway, so what difference does it make to wait until after the election.

If you cannot hire someone in 10 months, then the board needs to resign and head for Momma's tamales also.
Courthouse wag
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February 08, 2014
What about Judge Jim Bodiford?
Anderson605789
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February 09, 2014
No way, pleez! Let him retire and go into the sunset. We don't need to recycle old people.
big mess
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February 08, 2014
Send HInny packing AT ONCE! I think his statement, given the debacle of the school children being hung out to dry, was callous, to say the least. Get rid of him, find someone who is retired to be interim, and hire from within. Forget the fancy national search, we need someone who is local, who understands fully just what has happened to the Cobb School District in the past few years. And this was all because of a Board who exercised poor judgement. None of us wants to keep paying for supers who are, in a nutshell, no good. Time to get down to business!
Get Rid of Him Now
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February 08, 2014
Buy out his contract and get rid of him NOW. He has no ties to CCSD and will not be an asset. Get a retired area guy who is willing to take on this mess to be the interim and start the application process. Look within the district but don't rule out a national search. We need some people in the cabinet who are invested in our community. We have too many outsiders who do not know the history of our community. We also have too many people promoted into their positions who are not qualified to be in those positions but have passed through the good old boy system of sorts. Let's hire the BEST people for the job. Please do NOT hire people to feel quotas.
Get Real!
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February 08, 2014
The MDJ is either drinking Kool-Aid or attempting to serve it up! About 2 weeks ago several individuals in the Central Office got wind that James Wilson was going around town telling people he was going to be the next CCSD Superintendent. What did he know at that time that the board did not?? There is very little use for James Wilson in the Central Office. I am sure this news will come as a shock to him especially since he has such a high opinion of himself!
anonymous
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February 08, 2014
What about the vice chair, Randy Scamihorn to be the next superintendent? Yes, he would have to give up his seat but the great good would be worth it. Per Mr. Wilson, he has a little too much baggage.
Cobb Taxpayer
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February 08, 2014
Randy would be a great interim and candidate for superintendent. He did an excellent job as chairman.

Mr. Wilson should not be considered.
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