Monday, September 29, 2008

What Does It Profit A Board To Deny A Student?

Aileen Mukuria is a 12th grade Dallas ISD Skyline student.

She hoped to address the Board on last Thursday (September 25th) but had not signed up.

At the end of speakers on Non-Agenda items, Aileen attempted to make a request to speak on behalf of another speaker who had signed up. She was correctly informed by the Board President that she could not speak in place of another speaker. However, I would add - "unless the Board consents."

While she was standing in front of the aisle microphone, two security officers quickly interrupted, turned the microphone in the opposite direction and escorted Aileen away from the aisle.

While serving on the Board, I don't recall seeing security officers move between any speaker and the microphone, as if a young female student attempting to speak is a security issue.

Maybe this was planned security, but I found it unnecessary and a bit disturbing.

Students very seldomly speak at Dallas ISD Board meetings. No other student had spoken that evening. Aileen would have been the last speaker.

I decided to offer my speaking time normally given for my District 6 Board report to our Skyline student because I wanted her to feel welcome and to provide the opportunity to hear her.

When I did so, Trustee Jerome Garza immediately objected. The District General Counsel stated I would have to make a motion in order to yield my time. However, I do recall when a Board member had yielded time in the past, it was recognized without a motion.

I made the motion to allow the student to speak, but the Board vote was tied and not successful.

The vote was as follows:

The Vote For Our Student - Blackburn, Medrano, Ranger

The Vote Against Our Student - Lowe, Garza, Flores

Abstaining - Ellis

Absent and Not Voting - Price and Bingham

The student left the Board auditorium in tears.

My question: What does it profit a Board to refuse a student the opportunity to speak when there was clearly no good reason not to hear her remarks?

My apology to our young student Aileen Mukuria who simply wanted to share her opinion with the Board.