Monday, February 20, 2012

Eleven closed Dallas ISD Schools could have been saved

I was not going to vote to close eleven schools - I made that quite clear at the January Board Briefing and elsewhere.

Click Here: Slow Down the plan to close DISD Schools-Dallas South publisher Shawn Williams

"Trustee Carla Ranger made her position on the matter very clear. 'I believe that the schools should not be closed, not one school for next year.' I agree. There should not be any schools closed for the coming year."

There was a way to save eleven schools. The schools were not closed solely because of money.  They were also closed because of politics.  The money ($11.5 million dollars) will simply be used for other purposes.

If the Board President wanted to save eleven schools, all he had to do was pull the item from the agenda.  

Board Policy clearly gives the Board President the authority to remove an item from the Board Agenda at any time.

Board Policy (BE) Local states: - Removal of Items From the Agenda"Items may be removed from the agenda once published upon the recommendation of the Board President or the Superintendent of Schools..."

The Board President alone had full authority to pull the item.

On Wednesday morning, January 25, 2012 at 3:00 AM, I sent the following request to the Board office hoping this would help save the eleven schools:

From: Carla Ranger
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 3:01 AM
Subject: School Consolidations

Good morning,

This is to recommend that the Board Agenda items relating to school closings 
be pulled from the agenda.

Thank you.

I believe this was the fifth request by a Trustee..

Click Here - DMN reporter Matthew Haag-11:44 AM-Wednesday-1-25-12
Pressure Mounts to pull school closure plan from tomorrow's Dallas ISD school board meeting

"Board president Lew Blackburn said he has heard from four board members who want to postpone the decision and four who do not. Blackburn called himself the "middle guy" and refused to cast the deciding vote

"If it's up to me, it's going to stay on the agenda," he said. "Trustees Carla Ranger and Adam Medrano have both publicly said they will not support the plan..."

Later in the day, it was confirmed again that Lew Blackburn would refuse to pull the school closing item from the agenda.

The outcome was clear - eleven schools would be closed.

District 5 - N. W. Harllee Elementary School

District 6 - D. A. Hulcy Middle School

District 8 - James B. Bonham Elementary School
District 8 - Oran M. Roberts Elementary School
District 8 - Arlington Park Elementary School

District 9 - City Park Elementary School
District 9 - Julia C.Frazier Elementary School
District 9- Phillis Wheatley Elementary School
District 9 - James W. Fannin Elementary School
District 9 - H.S. Thompson Elementary School
District 9 - Pearl C. Anderson Middle School (2013-2014 School Year)

At the Board Meeting the next day - in a meeting room in which the President had stated to the public "... you will not be a part of it," the vote was 6-2 to close the schools.

Voting "Yes" to close eleven schools

Bernadette Nutall ...............  District 9 -- six schools closed

Mike Morath ....................... District 2 -- no schools closed
Nancy Bingham ...................  District 4 -- no schools closed
Edwin Flores ......................  District 1 -- no schools closed
Eric Cowan ........................  District 7 -- no schools closed
Bruce Parrott .....................  District 3 -- no schools closed

Voting "No"

Adam Medrano .................... District 8 -- three schools closed
Lew Blackburn .................... District 5 -- one school closed

Remaining in the Board auditorium

Carla Ranger ...................... District 6 -- one school closed  (I would have voted "NO")

I remained in the Board auditorium with the public because it appeared that Board Policy BED (Local) was violated when Board President Lew Blackburn ordered Dallas ISD police to remove Dallas ISD Bond Committee Member Joyce Foreman from the meeting without warning or a just reason - while she was simply standing quietly at the microphone waiting for several Trustees to return to the meeting.
Board Policy BED(Local) states: The Board shall not tolerate disruption of the meeting by members of the public. If, after at least one warning from the President, any person continues to disrupt the meeting by his or her words or actions, the Board President shall request assistance from law enforcement officials to have the person removed from the meeting.
Board policy BED(Local) was clearly violated. It requires at least one warning from the Board President before he has the authority to remove a citizen from a public meeting. The Board President can also give more than one warning.
Lew Blackburn entered the auditorium after a long absence and immediately gave the order to Dallas ISD police: "Security I would like you to escort Miss Joyce Foreman out of this meeting right now." No warning - no disruption.  All was quiet at the time. "Right Now."
Audience: "Boo". - clearly upset by the unjust treatment of Joyce Foreman standing alone at the microphone waiting for Trustees to return.

Lew Blackburn:  "We will not have disorder in this meeting."  
Audience repeats: "No Justice - No Peace"
Lew Blackburn: "If we do not get quiet, we will move this meeting down the hall and you will not be a part of it."
Citizen in the Audience: "Lew, you should have been in in your seat."
Lew Blackburn: "Sir you need to  be quiet. Trustees we are moving down the hall." Raps gavel.

Trustees moved to the small Board room from the much larger auditorium.  I remained in the auditorium. I believed that there was something very wrong about the way the meeting was suddenly closed down by the Board President.

During the time of the move from the large auditorium to the small board room, Trustee Bernadette Nutall is heard to say, "They don't even know what justice is."

What I witnessed reminded me of how power will be abused and citizens deprived of important rights. 

This entire episode was caused by the Board President's action when he returned to the auditorium. The very first words he spoke gave the order to police to remove Joyce Foreman from the auditorium.  She was doing nothing at the time - just standing at the microphone waiting to speak. The Board President gave no warning as required by Board Policy BED(Local) - nothing.


 7:44 p.m.: I've just been stopped from going to the small board room. I'm being told that the trustees will be watching the speakers from the small boardroom. This could be a violation of the open meetings act -- you've got a quorum of trustees meeting privately and the public is not allowed in the room.

7:49 p.m.: After some side conversations, I've been allowed in the small board room.

7:55 p.m.:
Speakers are being called to the small boardroom to speak. It will be broadcast to the auditorium for the large crowd to hear."

After Trustees left the auditorium, some of the public left the auditorium thinking the meeting was over or that they would not be able to participate.

I remained in the auditorium with the public because the Texas Open Meetings Act requires a Trustee to not participate in a meeting if it appears there might be a violation of the state law.

I would have voted "No" on closing eleven schools.

The Board President could have stopped the school closures by pulling the item from the agendaHe refused.