DISD home-rule signatures certified, commission to be established




Posted on May 22, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Updated Thursday, May 22 at 10:51 PM

DALLAS -- We've been hearing about the campaign to change Dallas ISD into an independently governed, "home rule" charter district for two months now.

Despite allegations of deceptive petition-gathering practices, Thursday night DISD board members certified the signatures need to begin crafting a new school district constitution.

The home-rule proposal started off on the wrong foot last March; a quiet campaign by nameless financial backers to remove DISD from state governance. At Thursday night’s school board meeting, the head of the campaign set out to dispel the rumors.

"While there may be talk of some nefarious scheme that we are billionaires with a hostile take-over, it couldn't be further from the truth,” said Jeronimo Valdez, treasurer for Support Our Public Schools, the base organization pushing the home-rule initiative. “We are all DISD grads that want to see it improve."

Yet Support Our Public Schools (SOPS) has kept its financial backers a secret, and its petition campaign has been  accused of tricking citizens into signing up. Opponents called home rule a Trojan horse for adults out to restructure the board.

"In light of the troubling but enlightening research by Brett Shipp at Channel 8, we believe you should take a deep breath and consider what is being uncovered daily about how the petitions were gathered,” said Harryette Ehrhardt, the head of Our Community, Our Schools, the chief opponents of the home-rule initiative.

News 8 tried unsuccessfully for several days to get home-rule supporters to comment on allegations their petition workers were misleading the public. Even after Thursday night’s meeting, the SOPS treasurer again declined to answer questions.

In the end, home-rule proponents got the needed petition signatures and now, DISD Board members have 30 days to appoint parents and teachers to a commission in charge of creating a new DISD constitution.

The goal is to put it to a public vote in November.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com