Cobb school district contract changes surprise to board
by Hannah Morgan
February 02, 2014 12:05 AM | 6988 views | 14 14 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa surprised Board of Education members last month when he asked them to approve the contracts of his executive staff, months before teachers would know the fate of their own contracts.

In April 2012, Hinojosa sent a memo to his chief financial officer, noting changes he had made to the contracts of his top staff, although board members said they don’t remember being involved in that change.

Hinojosa said he worked with the board’s attorney, Clem Doyle, two years ago to change the contracts so members of the superintendent’s cabinet would know by Jan. 31 each year if the superintendent wanted to renew their contracts for another year.

“The board agrees to notify the (title) of its intention to extend or renew this contract no later than three months prior to the end of his/her term,” Hinojosa’s memo reads.

Contracts for district employees run through June 30.

The board can vote to renew the cabinet members’ contracts at any time before June 30, but the memo said the board would “aspire” to renew the contracts by March 30.

Doyle did not respond to emails or phone calls for this article.

Board split on fairness issue

At a Jan. 15 work session, board members were undecided on whether or not it was fair to renew the contracts of senior staff months before teachers would know about their own jobs. The board decided against acting on Hinojosa’s request to renew all 14 members of his executive cabinet at that meeting in a closed meeting.

Board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci, who was elected in 2010, said she did not recall ever discussing Hinojosa’s plan to ask the board to hire his cabinet well before the district’s teachers.

Angelucci said she learned of the change just last month.

“I do not recall the board voting on or being made aware of a change to the contract verbiage,” she said.

Angelucci said she did not intend to discuss the cabinet’s contracts before the board was ready to do so. She did not feel the board was in the position to approve the contracts at its January meeting and couldn’t predict when the board would be.

Board member David Banks, who has been on the board since January 2009, said he “slightly” remembers discussing the changes to the contracts in 2012, but does not remember voting to approve them. Banks thinks having contracts for executive staff members is unnecessary to begin with, and didn’t believe it was unfair for top staff to have more job security than teachers.

“I take the position that the executive cabinet isn’t going to change unless the board authorizes it,” Banks said. “Doing a contract just gives a little more security to the executive staff that there is no plan for changes. That way we don’t take the risk of losing so many executive people.”

Not all board members believe it is a fair practice to allow cabinet members to know that their jobs are safe months before the district’s teachers know about their jobs.

“I think they ought to be all the same. They are all our employees,” said board member Brad Wheeler.

Wheeler, who joined the board in January 2013, remembers how the board approved the contracts of senior staff months before teacher contracts last year, and questioned the fairness in the procedure.

“We hadn’t even made the budget yet, and these guys were already locked in,” Wheeler said.

Hinojosa: Cabinet needs more job security than teachers

Hinojosa understands why some board members think the changes were unfair, but thinks his “immediate team” needs to have the extra job security.

“It’s a different threshold,” Hinojosa said.

Cobb is different from other school districts in which he has worked that gave top staff members more protection.

“Everywhere else I have been, most of my direct support had multiple-year contracts, we always let them know in January if they were coming back next year. In January, you need them to be focusing on the budget, graduation, as a CEO I need my people to have some stability,” he said.

Hinojosa understands why teachers might be upset, but said teachers are more secure than his cabinet members with the Fair Dismissal Act in place.

“It was my idea to have some security and clarity with my team,” he said.

For the last two years, the board has been notified of his intentions in January. It shouldn’t have been a surprise this year, he said.

Hinojosa told the board he had made changes to the way he wanted his cabinet to be rehired each year back in spring 2012, he said.

Angelucci doesn’t remember the board authorizing any changes.

Hinojosa remembers the board telling him they wanted to maintain the final say as to when the executive staff would be rehired.

The board has until June 30 to renew the contracts of executive cabinet members, but Banks said they will most likely make the decision earlier than June.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 03, 2014
@ anonymous...Teachers don't get paid time off. They are only paid for the time they work which is between 175-185 days a year depending on furlough days. The rest of the year they are unemployed.
February 06, 2014
Some teachers choose to be unemployed the rest of the year. I remember seeing my teachers working at Sears and Penneys in the summer. I guess now teachers expect to get 260 days salary for 190 days of work, right?
Cobb School Advocate
February 03, 2014
Does the Cobb School District "enforce" the contracts that they execute with the cabinet ?

Or may they depart for other jobs early ?

I think the Hinojosa's contract should be changed to allowed his placement personally as an Administrater at some Cobb School if the Superintendent job proves over his head and competance. Let his try Aryle for awhile as AP.
getrid of Drh
February 03, 2014
Hinojosa's comment that they are "on another threshold" says it all. Please board, do what you need to do, FIRE HINOJOSA!!! His elitism, and poor handling of the recent weather fiasco, is just part of the problem. It's too bad you extended his contract for whatever reasons you did. Take the high road here, for the sake of our school district.
another teacher1
February 03, 2014
Cabinet? Cabinet? What on earth does a superintendent need a cabinet for? That in itself is the story for me. Anybody still think the county office doesn't have waste if the superintendent needs a cabinet?
Cobb Teacher
February 03, 2014
Hinojosa thinks it's fair for his cabinet to have more job security than teachers? Where were he and his cabinet during the storm? Yeah...that's what I thought. Off with all of their heads.
February 03, 2014
I have the answer to all Cobb's school problems. Give the current teachers a 35% increase in make that 50%, give them 35% more days make that 50%, insure their insurance premiums, deductibles, etc. will not increase as they have with all other Americans, and, heck, let's throw this in to stop the constant whining and complaining...a county paid for car. Now, will the whining stop? Naw. Not until teachers are getting paid for doing nothin'.
In the Trenches
February 02, 2014
Really, Dr. H.? You are an employee of the district and your executive staff should not be approved before a budget is approved and set into place. I do not recall any of your executive staff manning our schools on Tuesday with the lack of leadership debacle that a forecast storm presented. It was the "unsecured staff members" that rose to the occasion. Please...
Cobb Tax Payer
February 02, 2014
When will this board have enough of Hinojosa, the taxpayers have had it - but again he doesn't work for us!!!!

How do we go about changing the rules on hiring superintendents and make this an elected position, by the people and for the people, students and teachers.

Why do county employees have contracts at all??
February 02, 2014
The reason the top staffers want protection from the Fair Dismissal Act is NOT because teachers' jobs are safer than their own jobs!

They want job security because they themselves have actually used the joke of the ''Fair'' Dismissal Act (as if it is really fair for anyone except the employer) to justify the non-renewal of a highly effective, successful and beloved teacher due to personality differences. They KNOW how easy it is to use nonsense mistakes (that we ALL can and do make) that NEVER put a child in danger, in any way, to justify not renewing a teacher’s contract. (Unlike putting children on school busses in the snow knowing there are accidents everywhere due to ice on the roads).

Of course David Banks, ''Didn’t believe it was unfair for top staff to have more job security than teachers’’, because he was complicit in the unjust and unfair ousting of an 11 year veteran teacher in his area. It is NO surprise, that Mr. Banks was also the area BOE member to principal of that school. (That principal, BTW, is now a TOP staffer in Hinojosa's cabinet).

What IS evident to me, and others, is that ''they'' take care of each other without regard to the truth of the situation or the real facts as presented by dozens of parents, students, and other teachers. I am befuddled as to why they do not because the truth has a way of winning in the end.

Just remember folks, in life, Karma is real, no matter what beliefs to which you subscribe. What goes around comes around. So far, Karma has taken care of Donald Dunnigan and Jan Holley. I am certain that due time will take care of the others as well. Do not be mistaken and take this as a threat from me. This is only a statement of fact, from our universe, that brings balance to all things.

Thank you for allowing the forum to vent the negative feelings that linger in my teacher soul. Keep in mind that not just one career/heart/soul was forever changed on that day in July 2010. I do my best to remember that the CHILDREN are why I am an educator. I continue to ''march on in the trenches'' because they need good teachers/advocates despite the shenanigans of some of the adults in their world! The actual, real success of the children should be our measure, NOT the written plans we make for them.

Arrogance crazy
February 02, 2014
The arrogance of Hinojosa amazes me. It is more important for his cabinet to know of their job security? Is he kidding me? I guess I shouldn't be surprised coming from a man who made sure he was home safe and forget the kids and staff of the schools. When is the board going to fire him? That is my question.
Which Way Ray
February 02, 2014
Lets give them a raise too!!! That way they can buy a faster car to get them home quicker in the snow!

Is it past time to bump this "Cabinet" and install another?
February 03, 2014
They will fire him when they fire all the incompotent teachers that are in it for the early retirement, the half year paid time off, the pension, etc.
February 03, 2014
I am so over it. You know what? I work in the private sector. When any type of reorganization, compensation change, etc. is taking place, it happens in stages from the top down. Why is this news anyway? I am SO SO SO over whiny teachers that think they are more important than physicians, nurses, private sector workers, etc. and they are somehow "a step above" all the rest of us in society. Or maybe it is just this newspapers that puts teachers in the same league as God. ALL of us are important. ALL of us.
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