Sunday, April 8, 2012

There is no Mayor in the Texas Education Code

Trustees cannot serve two masters. Our only master is supposed to be the Texas Education Code.

Serving two masters creates conflicts of interest that undermine the duty of Trustees to exercise the  exclusive power and responsibility to govern a school district. We were not elected to serve a region. We were elected to serve a district.

The Texas Education Code gives the exclusive "power and duty" to govern an Independent School District to elected Trustees .  There is no authorization for a Mayor or any other elected official or organization to intrude into the public affairs of an independent school district.  To do so undermines the clearly established control of the school district under state law.                
Sec. 11.051.  GOVERNANCE OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT;  NUMBER OF TRUSTEES.  (a)  An independent school district is governed by a board of trustees who, as a body corporate, shall:  (1)  oversee the management of the district;
 (a-1)  Unless authorized by the board, a member of the board may not, individually, act on behalf of the board The board of trustees may act only by majority vote of the members present at a meeting held in compliance with Chapter 551, Government Code, at which a quorum of the board is present and voting.
  b)  The trustees as a body corporate have "the exclusive power and duty" to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district.  All powers and duties not specifically delegated by statute to the agency or to the State Board of Education are reserved for the trustees, and the agency may not substitute its judgment for the lawful exercise of those powers and duties by the trustees.
School Trustees do not answer to a Mayor, a Regional Chamber of Commerce, charter school promoters, or organizations formed to carry out a Mayor's agenda.  School Trustees are supposed to be independent representatives of the citizens who elected them.

The Mayor of Dallas has recently announced that Todd Williams is now his personal education advisor.  Todd Williams is a charter school promoter. Todd Williams was originally appointed to the Dallas ISD Budget Commission by Trustee District 9 Bernadette Nutall.  Todd Williams now serves as the Chair of the Dallas ISD Budget Commission. Todd Williams is the Executive Director of Commit - an initiative supported by the Mayor.  Then you have Educate Dallas, a political PAC supported by the Dallas Regional Chamber, issuing $10,000.00 checks to candidates for the school board , including Trustee Bernadette Nutall who originally appointed Todd Williams.

All of these roles create tremendous potential conflicts of interest for Todd Williams.
Todd Williams should be removed immediately as the Chair of the Dallas ISD Budget Commission because of these clear conflicts of interest.

The Texas Education Code clearly states that all "powers and duties" are "reserved for the trustees." Another government or external organization "may not substitute its judgment for the lawful exercise of those powers and duties by the trustees."

The Mayor of the city is clearly interfering in the affairs of Dallas ISD.  He was even going to campaign and raise money to elect individual Trustees until stopped by a City Ethics policy. We don't need a Mayor or other organizations attempting to undermine the authority of Trustees given by state law.

The Board President and the Mayor have had secret meetings that are not announced or disclosed to other Trustees or citizens.  The Mayor came to a Board Workshop meeting unannounced on the Agenda.  The minutes of that Workshop meeting do not even disclose the fact that the Mayor was present or that he made a presentation.  Yet, the Mayor lectured Trustees on Marketing 101 and how we should spend money on marketing over several years.

If the Mayor and city council are to get into the education business, are school trustees equally entitled to get into the city council's business?  Are school Trustees to get into the business of criticizing the Mayor and City Council for their shortcomings?  Would the Mayor appreciate school Trustees telling him or city council members how to do their job?

Creating externally controlled organizations that have all kinds of agendas is not in the interest of the citizens we serve. It undermines the authority of elected school Trustees under the Texas Education Code.

A Trustee who receives a $10,000.00 contribution from a business controlled PAC supported by the Mayor or any other organization with an agenda is a Trustee who just might be tempted to represent the Agenda of that PAC and the Mayor - ahead of the community of citizens and taxpayers who voted for them.

If money starts buying school Trustees, where does it end? How can the independence of school Trustees be preserved?

The Mayor previously met with U. S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan who apparently passed on several names of potential Superintendent candidates.  The Mayor stated he was told by the Board President to give those names to PROACT Search.  Education Secretary Arnie Duncan also promotes mayoral takeovers of public education (more big-city mayors need to take over school districts). (Arne Duncan: Mayors Should Run Schools).  The Broad Foundation and Eli Broad also actively promote mayoral takeover of urban school systems.

Dallas ISD trustees discuss Mayor Mike Rawlings' involvement in superintendent search, trustee elections

If you want your school district to represent your community, elect people who will put children, parents, teachers and community above power, politics and money.

You have that chance during school Trustee elections every May.