Monday, December 8, 2008

Texas Education Commissioner Requests Attorney General Opinion on Legality of Dallas ISD Four-Year Trustee Terms

At the request of Trustee Carla Ranger, Texas Education Commissioner, Robert Scott is requesting an opinion from the Texas Attorney General on the legality of the Dallas ISD Board's extending Board terms to four years and canceling the May, 2009 Trustee election.

I made this request in the hope that the action of Dallas ISD in adopting a Resolution and Board Policy on Thursday, November 20, 2008 would be reviewed by state officials and an official decision reached.

That will now be done, and the accountability of the Dallas ISD Trustees for this action will be determined.

The Board of Trustees and the District legal staff refused to obtain state clarification before rushing to take this action in order to prevent the May, 2009 Trustee elections.

The public interest will be served by obtaining state review.

The TEA Attorney General Opinion request states: "We have understood Subsection 11.059 (e) to authorize boards of trustees to change the length of their terms only until December 31, 2007."

This confirms that both the Secretary of State and the Texas Education Agency consider the Dallas ISD action to be a violation of the Texas Education Code.

Our thanks to Commissioner Scott's office for requesting the clarification.

The Question: The opinion requested is whether DISD may, under the provisions of Section 11.065, Texas Education Code, or any other law, change the term served by a member of the board of trustees after December 31, 2007. The opinion request from the DISD board member represents that the DISD board has voted to change the length of its terms from three to four years. The trustees' action has been reported to also postpone elections previously scheduled for May, 2009 to November, 2010?

The November 20, 2008 change of Trustee terms to four years certainly appears to violate the December 31, 2007 deadline of the Texas Education Code - as the legal division of the Secretary of State's Office previously confirmed.

We must now also file official objections with the U.S. Department of Justice
based on the potential violation of the Texas Education Code Section 11.059(e) December 31, 2007 deadline and other related objections to canceling the Scheduled May, 2009 Trustee election.

More - Click Here - Submission of Term Plans to U.S. Department of Justice Per Senate Bill 670