David G. Hinojosa, J.D., is IDRA’s National Director of Policy and directs the IDRA EAC-South. In his policy role, he supports the integration and coordination of national and state policy reform efforts impacting the education of all students, with special emphasis on minority, low-income, English learner and recent immigrant populations. He drafted various analyses of congressional bills reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and created an equity-based framework to help measure the effectiveness of the federal accountability system. Mr. Hinojosa also led IDRA’s work in submitting comments on proposed regulations concerning Head Start programs and equity assistance centers. At the state level, he spearheads IDRA’s critical work in education policy, including school finance, accountability, testing, private vouchers, teacher quality, and EL matters. Mr. Hinojosa also authored IDRA’s Supreme Court amicus brief in the affirmative action case, Fisher v. Texas, where he highlighted the impact of unequal opportunities in PK-12 for students of color in Texas.
As IDRA’s Director of the IDRA EAC-South, Mr. Hinojosa spearheads its work in assisting states and school districts to protect students’ civil rights and provide equal educational opportunities for all students. The IDRA EAC-South builds bridges among administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members so that all stakeholders can find that common higher ground where all students will benefit regardless of race, sex or national origin. The IDRA EAC-South is one of four federally-funded centers that provide technical assistance and training at the request of school districts and other responsible governmental agencies to build capacity of local educators to ensure a more equitable learning environment for all students.
Mr. Hinojosa received his bachelor’s degree with honors certificate from New Mexico State University and earned his J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 2000.
Previously, Mr. Hinojosa served as a staff attorney, senior litigator, and, for three years, as Southwest Regional Counsel, directing the office’s litigation and policy work for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s premier Latino civil rights law firm. While with MALDEF, he became a leading litigator and advocate in the area of civil rights, with a focus on educational civil rights impact litigation and policy.
Among the most recent cases, Mr. Hinojosa served as MALDEF’s lead counsel in Edgewood ISD vs. Williams, where he represented low-income and English language learner (ELL) students and property-poor school districts in a challenge to the inequity and inadequacy of the Texas public school finance system. He successfully tried the case over three months and the case is now on appeal.
Mr. Hinojosa led parents of ELL, low-income, and special education students in one of the most comprehensive and progressive educational opportunity cases ever filed across the country, Martínez vs. New Mexico. In this case, the students challenged the State of New Mexico’s failure to provide a fundamental right to sufficient, multicultural education under the state constitution and attacked the state’s arbitrary and unfair teacher evaluation and accountability systems. He successfully argued in the trial court that education is a fundamental right and overcame the state’s motion to dismiss on all grounds.
He also served as lead counsel for a class of Latino students in a school desegregation case, Morales vs. Shannon, who after 40 years continue to challenge a school district’s ongoing discriminatory practices and poor quality ELL programs in Uvalde, Texas.
During 2008 through early 2015, Mr. Hinojosa served as lead counsel on behalf of Latino amici students and organizations defending the University of Texas at Austin’s diversity admissions plan in Fisher vs. Texas, where he co-authored a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of 23 national Latino civil rights organizations and associations, and more recently, authored a Fifth Circuit amicus brief on behalf of several local, state and national Latino organizations. In addition, Mr. Hinojosa represented: DREAM students in IRCOT vs. Texas/University Leadership Initiative, where he defeated a challenge to Texas’s in-state tuition law for undocumented immigrants and recently fought to preserve access to tuition grants; and ELL children in LULAC vs. Texas, suing for quality statewide secondary language programs and effective monitoring.
Mr. Hinojosa has served as MALDEF’s lead counsel in a number of other pivotal civil rights cases, including Santamaria vs. Dallas ISD, where he ended the intentional segregation of minority schoolchildren in an elementary school; Lobato/Ortega vs. Colorado, Colorado’s first statewide adequacy case where he argued before the Colorado Supreme Court, following a favorable decision in the district court on behalf of intervening ELL and low-income children; Colindres vs. Quietflex, where he helped end segregation of Latino employees in the workplace; Garcia vs. Padilla, where a New Mexico court permanently enjoined a state program requiring foreign nationals with driver’s licenses to re-verify their eligibility; Salazar vs. Texas DPS, in which he successfully challenged the adoption of discriminatory driver’s license rules applied to noncitizens; and Dominguez vs. Texas, where he restored college tuition exemptions for military veterans who were previously denied exemptions solely because they were not U.S. citizens when they first enlisted. He also served as co-counsel on behalf of Latino immigrants who were assaulted by a rancher in Vicente vs. Barnett, which resulted in a jury verdict awarding over $75,000 in damages in a Tucson federal district court.
Mr. Hinojosa is often called upon to share his expertise in civil rights and has presented at over 75 local, state, and national conferences across the country; lectured at undergraduate universities and law schools; provided expert testimony to local and state governmental bodies; analyzed and drafted legislation; and participated in numerous roundtables and special forums concerning seminal cases and policy work.
His speaking engagements have included: the University of Richmond School of Law and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School’s “Rodríguez at 40 Conference,” New York University School of Law’s Bickel and Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights’ Latinos and the Law Lecture, the Schott Foundation’s “National Opportunity to Learn Education Summit,” the University of Texas at Austin School of Law’s “The Role of Law in Closing the Achievement Gap,” the University of California at Los Angeles’s “Seventh Annual Latina/o Education Summit,” the University of North Carolina’s “High Poverty Schooling in America,” and the Charles Houston Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice “Conference on Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy,” and he has been a regular presenter at the National School Finance Litigators’ Workshop.
Mr. Hinojosa’s op-eds on education equity have been published in many state and national newspapers and he has written two chapters on school finance litigation, one of which is pending publication by the Harvard Education Press: “Rodríguez vs. San Antonio ISD – Forty Years and Counting.” He is a graduate of Edgewood High School in San Antonio and a former legal aid attorney in Galveston. He also served seven and one-half years as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force and received various medals for his service.
- “How Adequacy Litigation Fails to Fulfill the Promise of Brown [But How it Can Get us Closer],” with Karolina Walters, in Bowman, Kristi L., ed., The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools: Mendez, Brown, and Beyond, 2015
- “Rodriguez vs. San Antonio ISD, Forty Years Later,” in Robinson, K., & Ogletree, C., (Eds.), The Enduring Legacy of Rodríguez, 2015
- Institutionalized Discrimination… Does it Exist in Your School?, April 30, 2018
- Tying the Knot Between School Finance Policy and Serving All Students, September 21, 2017
- Will States Use ESSA to Undermine Communities of Color as Some Have for Voting Rights?, September 25, 2016
- Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination in Student Discipline Policy and Practice, February 25, 2016
- Meet David Hinojosa, IDRA National Director of Policy, February 25, 2016
- IDRA Analyses Show Texas Equity Gaps would Widen under Proposed School Funding Measure, May 26, 2015