Monday, August 27, 2012

Dallas ISD new school year opens

Welcome to a new school year, all parents and students, teachers and staff.

The 2012-13 school year brings a new opportunity for a successful school year.

Cleaning House in My Brain
by Kalli Dakos

I’m cleaning house
In my brain,
Time again.

Shine windows,
Paint doors,
Vacuum rugs,
Polish floors.

Brush away
TV shows,
Picnics, beaches,
Free time goes.

Bring my memory
Back in gear,
Sweep the channels,
Crystal clear.

My brain is
An amazing tool,
And it’s all ready for

Friday, August 17, 2012

Board President Lew Blackburn abuses authority again "I did it in isolation"

Board President Lew Blackburn once again abused his authority by initiating and announcing a district-wide $1,500 debit card drawing for student attendance on the first day of school. This was done without Board approval or discussion. 

Information about the drawing was  published on the Dallas ISD Education Blog  by Tawnell Hobbs who referred to a Dallas ISD press release.  The press release was on Dallas ISD website. Click Here 

During an interview Thursday morning, August 16 on Fox 4-Good Day Texas, Trustee Blackburn was asked what other Trustees thought about the idea.  He stated, "I had a brainstorm about this over the week-end.  On Monday morning, I called the office and said, Let's get this going." 

That's all it took.

Who approved this?

One Trustee -- Lew Blackburn decides to pay money to students for attending school.  He then uses District resources to promote his personal political agenda.  There was no Board discussion.  No Board approval.  Just one out-of-control Board President.

The whole promotion is about the Board President's personal political agenda - not the Board's nor the Dallas ISD agenda.

Individual Trustees do not have the authority to make decisions for Dallas ISD - not even the Board President.

What will the current Board do about this violation of Board policy? Nothing! 

It is all about politricks.

My Fox 4 Video - DISD Board member offers cash prize for students - Click Here

Good Day Texas Host: "When you decided to do this, what was the response you got from other Board members or from other people in the school district?"

Board President Lew Blackburn: "Actually I just did it in isolation. Over the weekend I just had a brainstorm, if you will. And I called the office on Monday morning and said OK let's get this going, and they put out the news flash."

Who did Trustee Blackburn call on Monday morning, and who approved this personal agenda of one Trustee who has announced for re-election?

This Board President is doing all kinds of things in isolation and in violation of Board policy.

Do all Trustees have the same right to impose their individual and personal agendas district-wide with one phone call on Monday morning, with no Board involvement and approval?

DeSoto ISD student iPad drawing is educational - not a political stunt

Dallas Morning News Education reporter Tawnell Hobbs described the DeSoto ISD attendance intiative as follows:

Related information: DeSoto ISD also has an attendance initiative. Each of DeSoto’s 13 schools will have an iPad drawing for students who are in school, on time and with no early dismissals, for the first five days of school, Aug. 27-Aug. 31, according to a district news release. 

Click Here


The Desoto ISD Press Release stated

Students can win an iPad for being at school

All students who are in school and are on time the first five days – August 27 through August 31 (no tardies or early dismissals) for the first five days – August 27 through August 31 - will be eligible for a campus drawing to win a free iPad! DeSoto ISD is preparing students, families and staff for instruction on Monday, August 27 – the first day of school – and every school day the entire year.

Each of the 13 schools will hold a drawing the second week of school to award one lucky student with a great educational device! This combines with the district launch of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program this year where students can use their own laptops, smartphones or tablets for instructional purposes during the school day. The BYOD policy is posted on the new district web site which officially launched August 10.

More Here

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Neighborhood welcome event at Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Middle School

Students, principal, and central administrators stand in front of the Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Wall of Quotes.

This evening was a Terrific Thursday for students, parents, and community of the Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Middle School.  Hundreds came to participate in the  "Neighborhood Fellowship" and to meet teachers and staff at their new school. 

Everyone gathered in the auditorium for an enthusiastic introduction of " here's where we are," "here's where we're going," and "here's how we'll get there."   The brief orientation applied to pathways to classrooms and resources throughout the facility as well as to physical, social, civic and academic journeys each student will have opportunities to take.

Then energetic guides conducted school tours -- a highlight of the evening -- as guests walked corridors with walls of motivational quotes and visited educational resources designed to inspire.

Big Thanks to neighborhood association leaders and nearby business owners for attending, giving and committing support.

Much appreciation to teachers, staff and administrators for taking the last hours of your summer break to help get the school ready to  welcome the community this evening.

Thanks to Principal Barbara Moham for leadership in planning this neighborhood event.

It was an exemplary "Neighborhood Fellowship" at Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Middle School.

Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Wall of Quotes

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School opens August 27 honoring civil rights activist

From Dallas website

Photos of the exterior of Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School.

As they learn their way around the many exciting features of the new Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School, students will no doubt also learn a few things about issues like social justice and equality, topics often championed by the school’s legendary namesake.

“It is indeed an honor to serve as the founding principal of the legendary Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School,” said Principal Barbara Moham. “Dr. Holmes is not only a legend; he is a man of character, distinction, honor, and humility. His selfless acts to ensure a better life for others are rare and worthy of this kind of recognition. We are proud to represent him and his family through our school.”

When school starts Monday, August 27, the school will become home to students in grades 6-8 in the Justin F. Kimball High School feeder pattern. Located at 2929 St. Rita Drive, the 192,086 sq. ft. facility will accommodate 1,250 students in an environmentally sustainable building.

The three-story building will feature 64 classrooms, new softball, baseball and football fields, and geothermal heating and air conditioning systems.

During an orientation earlier this month, the new school staff registered more than 400 students and treated them, along with their parents, to a brief tour. “Parents were so excited about the new school and seeing all the staff members adorned in welcome home shirts,” said Moham. “Dr. Holmes also stopped by earlier this spring and was overjoyed to see the building under construction.”

Best known as a spiritual leader, political powerhouse and civil rights activist who has touched countless lives through his dedication to social justice and equality, Dr. Holmes was appointed by the late Gov. Ann Richards as the first African-American to serve on the University of Texas Board of Regents.

The school will host its Neighborhood Fellowship event Thursday, August 16, 5 – 8 p.m., to give students, parents, and community members a first-hand look at the new building.

Moham is a master principal with more than 25 years in the education field. She hails from a long line of educators and credits her love for children and a strong support system as her key inspiration. “My desire is to see all children grow and become the best citizens they can be; citizens who give back more than they receive.”

Moham recently served as the principal of D.A. Hulcy Middle School, which was closed at the end of last school year under the consolidation plan.

The school’s mission statement of ensuring student success by creating a well-structured student-centered environment where effective high quality instruction is in every classroom and rigorous student learning is the norm is foremost on the minds of school staff as they prepare to welcome students in a few days.

The Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School is part of the 2008 Bond program and one of five new schools and one replacement school opening this fall.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Did Dallas ISD violate Texas Open Meetings Act on Saturday, July 21, 2012?

Probably so.

Lawsuit says Beamont ISD violated Open Meetings Act - June 7, 2012

Beamont ISD was recently accused of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act for not properly posting the 'subject matter' of a closed session. The lawsuit was about the 'lack of detail' of the notices.  An attorney who was also a city council member filed suit on behalf of a Beaumont citizen.

A restraining order was obtained that prevented the Beaumont ISD from going into 'executive session/closed session' without a proper notice of the closed session that meets the notice requirement of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

It appears the Beamont ISD listed an item as "consideration of personnel matters" at a meeting held on Thursday May 31, 2012.

Judge Donald Floyd of the 172nd District Court concluded:

"There is no way you could gather from the item noticed for executive session that the subject matter  was to consider the promotion of three assistant principals at various BISD schools."

More Here - Lawsuit says Beamont ISD violated Open Meetings Act - June 7, 2012

The Dallas ISD notice does not list a 'subject matter' at all. It is vague and general. 

The notice used on the Saturday, July 21, 2012 Board - Superintendent retreat at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts has no 'subject matter.' The same notice was used on Tuesday, August 7 and the same vague notice is listed for the Thursday, August 9 Board Briefing.

Based on the recent Beamont ISD lawsuit, it appears that Dallas ISD is also violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by not posting the 'subject matter' of closed sessions.

If so, it would mean that all such meetings that use such a vague notice are violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Also, three items were listed on the July 21, 2012 posted agenda for the open session. Yet, the Board President closed the open session, and Trustees discussed the three items first in the closed session outside the hearing of the public.
Consider and Take Possible Action to Approve the First Amendment to the Employment Contract of the Superintendent of Schools.
Consider and Take Possible Action to Approve the Application for a Waiver of Superintendent Certification.
Consider and Take Possible Action to Approve a Memorandum of Understanding Between Dallas Independent School District and Southern Methodist University, on Behalf of its Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
CLOSED SESSION - The Board will retire to closed session pursuant to Texas Government Code Section 551 concerning the following section:
551.074 To deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee, or to hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee.
(This section deals with 'personnel matters.' Trustees are not personnel.) 

Houston Attorney Charles Daughtry is quoted in the article on the Beaumont lawsuit. The article states:
"Daughtry is well-versed in the Open Meetings Act and said based on what he knows about the way BISD has prepared its agendas and maintained a tight lip on matters discussed in the executive sessions, it looks pretty clear BISD has been in violation.
“This complaint about posting an executive session with no explanation isn’t even close to complying with the law, and if so, I guess, I applaud them for finally complying, but I hate that it took somebody filing a lawsuit for them to finally do it,”  
"According to the Texas Open Meetings Act, “A governmental body must give the public advance notice of the subjects it will consider in an open meeting or a closed executive session,” meaning that even though a discussion is to take place in closed executive session, the public has the right to know what the subject of that discussion will be."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dallas Morning News editorial explains why Texas Open Meetings Act matters

The editorial below was published in the Dallas Morning News on Friday, August 3, 2012. It deals with potential violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act by various public elected officials. The full editorial is available at this link:

Editorial: Why the Texas Open Meetings Act matters

Ben Torres/Special Contributor
New Dallas ISD trustee Elizabeth Jones, left, on the board during a Dallas ISD board meeting in May. 
There are lots of legitimate reasons for elected officials to conduct the public’s business behind closed doors. Those reasons, clearly outlined in the Texas Open Meetings Act, include discussions of personnel issues, contract negotiations and pending litigation.
But there’s no provision for this: Exclude the public whenever you need to discuss politically uncomfortable or embarrassing issues.

Several recent executive sessions by the Dallas City Council and DISD board of trustees indicate that both groups need a reminder: Obey the law and don’t hold closed-door discussions unless the law specifically calls for it.

Whenever elected officials plan private sessions, they are required to publicly state the legal justification for excluding the public. Whenever a vote is required on any item discussed behind closed doors, that vote must occur in public.

On June 4, Dallas City Council members convened a closed-door session for a Power Point briefing about housing for the poor — a controversial matter that was the subject of a recent court battle involving low-income housing tax credits. The stated reason for excluding the public was to receive legal advice. But it is clear from the contents of the Power Point that large portions of the briefing should have been open to the public.

How do we know? Because Bob Stimson, president of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, obtained a copy of the Power Point through a Freedom of Information Act request. By handing it over, the city tacitly admitted it should not have been kept secret in the first place.
In Farmers Branch, that city agreed Thursday to a settlement, which includes paying $650,000 in attorney fees, for an alleged meetings act violation.

It should not require a lawsuit — or a reminder from the newspaper — to get a city council to obey the law.

Likewise, an open meetings act violation by the DISD board has become evident amid sparring over racially tinged remarks allegedly made between trustees Mike Morath and Nancy Bingham in a recorded phone conversation referring to trustee Bernadette Nutall.

Various trustees are treating the incident as secret because they discussed it in closed session, but there was no clear legal justification for having discussed the issue in closed session to begin with. Trustees seem to be seeking the broadest possible interpretation of the law to avoid embarrassment and evade public scrutiny and controversy.

One elected public official’s offensive remarks about a colleague don’t suddenly justify excluding the public when grievances are aired. In fact, this is exactly when the public has both a need and a right to be in the room.


Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, a “government body” such as a city council or school board may exclude the public when discussions involve:

Consultation with an attorney to discuss pending litigation or a settlement offer.

Deliberation regarding the purchase, exchange, lease or valuation of real estate.
Deliberation regarding a prospective gift.

Personnel matters such as employee discipline, evaluation or reassignment or to hear complaints or charges against an officer or employee.

The Texas attorney general website states that the Open Meetings Act “does not prohibit members of the governmental body or other persons who attend an executive session from making public statements about the subject matter of the executive session.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School holds first PTA, SBDM meeting

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School 1st PTA, SBDM, Volunteers and Students

Parents and community of the legendary Zan Wesly Holmes Jr. Middle School in Oak Cliff gathered this evening for the first organizational meeting of the PTA, SBDM and volunteer teams.

In a meeting with Texas PTA representatives, volunteers paid PTA dues and elected officers for the first PTA and SBDM.

Thanks to principal Barbara Moham and the Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Middle School staff for a successful beginning.

Former Dallas ISD Board member and State Representative Hon. Dr. Harryette Erhardt was also in attendance.

2939 St. Rita Drive - Dallas, Texas 75233

School Dedication Ceremony - Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:30 A.M.