Dallas ISD Needs to Develop a New Chief Human Development Officer

The missus and I got a call yesterday from Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, thanking us for keeping the kid in the district for a whole school year: "Thank you for entrusting your students to us and keeping the focus on academic achievement this school year," said the recording left on voice mail. "Enjoy the summer with your family. We look forward to seeing you on the first day of school, August 24." The super made no mention of the day's big news: the specific number of cuts forthcoming at the district's learning centers and magnets, and the one big exit from 3700 Ross Avenue. On her blog yesterday afternoon, DISD board trustee posted this short-and-sweet note: "This morning a letter of resignation was submitted by Kimberly Olson, Chief Human Development Officer." Nothing more.

Seems an awfully quiet way for one of the school year's most controversial figures to go; when asked this morning if she provided any reasons for her resignation, DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said, simply, "No." Last we heard, Olson -- the former Air Force colonel with a interesting past who didn't even last two years in her first school district gig -- was up for the superintendent's position in Washoe County, Nevada. But at the end of April, she withdrew her candidacy, citing family reasons.

Update: After the jump is the letter Olson sent to her staff yesterday in which she documents the "many positive gains" made during her tenure.

Dear HD Team,

I am resigning this summer. It was an honor to serve you and the children of Dallas ISD. Because of your dedicated service, this district made many positive gains and you all were critical to those successes. Allow me to remind you of a few:

  • You implemented a new substitute teacher/TA system, it not only increased the classroom fill rate to 80%, but has the potential savings of $10 million.
  • If you all meet the hiring projections this school year, there will be no bilingual teacher exceptions in Dallas ISD, we exceeded the state's requirement by 75%.
  • Your partnership with Region 10 to implement a free paperless application process will provide easier access, faster turn around, and better accountability.
  • The creation of an automated tracking and process system for employees with discipline issues saves principals and supervisors' time, effort, and decreases the cost of employees on admin leave. Last year we saved $2 million.
  • We took on the challenges of the Pay for Performance incentive programs which put $10 million in the pay checks of educators and support staff on the campuses. • The innovative STAR program resulted in improvement in teacher and support staff attendances, decreasing absentee rate by 40% and saving over $5 million.
  • After creating the HD Connect call center our calls grew from 500 calls to now 3000 calls a day and once we got fully staffed, we're meeting our goal of answering 85% of calls in 15 seconds.
  • In addition to building customer service capacity, 22,000 active personnel records were reviewed for standardized content, documentation, and updated to align them with industry standards and audit recommendations.
  • Partnered with TWU to launch the district's first Leadership Initiative for Teacher (LIFT) program and 18 excited teachers entered the principal program.
You all accomplished these and other goals through your initiative, dedication, and selfless service and I am most proud of each and every one of you. Our mission is to hire, train, and retain the best and I believe you are achieving this standard of excellence. Thank you again for the opportunity to lead you in these challenging times. Continue to soar and Godspeed in your life's journey.

Warm regards, Kimberly D. Olson

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