DISD administrator accused of new policy violations

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 26 at 7:16 PM

DALLAS - The DISD administrator at the center of the "Red Tails" movie controversy has been found in violation of a new policy.

Shirley Ison-Newsome, who was the interim chief of schools last spring, organized the all-boys movie trip in violation of federal education laws.

News 8 has now learned that Ison-Newsome has also violated district policy by authorizing an out-of-town trip to a bowling alley.

The trip in question was to the Alley Cats Bowling Alley in Arlington last August. Wilmer Hutchins Elementary School Principal Torey Page spent almost $1,500 treating his staff to a day of team building, bowling and laser tag.

But two months earlier, everyone in the district was notified of a new policy. In part it read, due to budget constraints "the use of external facilities for professional development or other meetings is no longer allowed."

But the trip was approved by Ison-Newsome and went off as planned. However the apparent flaunting of a district directive was reported to district investigators who, this past March. They issued findings that said in part, Page and Ison-Newsome "each failed to follow a directive from the Dallas ISD Chief of Staff." Also, that Page and Ison-Newsome both failed to follow policy "causing $1,493 in unauthorized expenditures" and that both violations are "grounds for termination."

Newsome at the time was already under fire for her authorization of a $57,000 expenditure of federal funds to take 5,000, fifth-grade boys to see the war movie 'Red Tails.' The expenditure has since been determined to be in violation of federal guidelines.

The matter is still under state investigation and at this point, there is no indication any of the money has been repaid. There is no indication that Ison-Newsome was disciplined for the 'Red Tails' episode and no indication that Ison-Newsome has been disciplined following the March investigative report.

Just last week, DISD Trustees, mindful of wasting taxpayer money, spent their annual retreat at a DISD high school.

DISD watchdog Allen Gwinn said for administrators to ignore a directive and go bowling typifies what's wrong with this district.

“I don't see how taking your staff to a bowling alley at taxpayer expense enhances one child's education at all," Gwinn said.

According to the report, Ison-Newsome told investigators she was the chief of schools and that "there are bigger problems to worry about than this."

DISD administrators declined to comment on the investigative findings. Neither Ison-Newsome, nor Board President Lew Blackburn, nor Superintendent Mike Miles responded to our request for comment.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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