For weeks now, a privately-funded group has been pushing the virtues of turning DISD into a home-rule system. However, that group never really explained some of the details of how that new system would work and who would be accountable -- until Thursday night, when members of Support our Public Schools laid out more of their plan at a town hall meeting.
At times, the meeting, hosted by the Texas Organizing Project, was chaotic.
Volunteers explained what home-rule is and created a list of current issues with Dallas ISD.
Lakashia Wallace's son has special needs and worries home-rule might not accommodate him.
“I don't know what his status would be,” said Wallace. “I don't know how this would affect him, and that's too much for me for someone to use him as a guinea pig to say, 'Hey, we thought this would work and it didn't, we're just sorry.'”
SOPS needs 25,000 signatures to force the district to create a 15-member commission to write a new charter. SOPS board member Jeronimo Valdez says that commission will reflect what the public wants and what students need.
“Here's why I don't believe that teachers' rights are going to go away: out of the 15 people, four of them will be teachers that are going to write this new constitution, eight of them are going to be DISD parents that are going to give their voice,” said Valdez.
SOPS has one major advocate in trustee Mike Morath, who argues that home rule gives more local control to parents and district leaders.
“What home rule does is two things,” said Morath. “It allows the school district to opt out of a variety of state rules and regulations. Doesn't mean that it will; it just allows it to happen and it allows the school district to changes the governance structure.”
Some of those state regulations include minimum salaries for teachers and staff, teacher contracts, student discipline and curriculum requirements.
But trustee Carla Ranger argues that home rule has been misconstrued.
“All schools in the Dallas Independent School District will be charter schools,” said Dallas ISD trustee Ranger.
Opponents, including the teachers’ union and the NAACP, are offering an affidavit for anyone who signed SOPS’ petition and now has second thoughts.
Parents at the meeting said they just want more transparency.
“I'm not saying I'm against it; I'm not saying I'm for it,” said Wallace. “I'm just saying, give me information to make a determination what's actually beneficial for my child.”
One SOPS board member said they tried to hand out a pamphlet with 50 questions and answers about home rule, but she says they were denied.
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