DALLAS — Dallas Independent School District trustees were scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss the next phase in the "home rule" initiative that began in March.
Last Thursday, supporters of the home rule movement submitted petitions filled with the names of more than 48,000 voters who support taking Dallas ISD governance away from the Texas Education Agency.
The key question on the minds of trustees during the Monday meeting: What guidelines need to be followed in appointing the 15-member charter commission that will draft a new DISD governing constitution?
Behind the scenes at DISD, employees are matching petition signatures against lists of registered voters, making sure they are valid. They have until Thursday afternoon to certify an estimated 25,000 signatures.
But a major potential snag in the approval process could be the claim by home rule opponents that the signature-gatherers failed to follow proper protocols. They are required to read this phrase out loud to potential signers: "I know the purpose of this petition is to request the Board of Trustees of DISD appoint a Charter Commission to frame a home rule school district charter for Dallas ISD."
“All they said to me was, 'Sign the petition; this will help DISD,'” said Jean Ann Bybee of Dallas.
Bybee said she signed the petition in a grocery store parking lot, and in retrospect, she feels she was misled.
"That statement you are showing me was never read to me,” she said. “I'm sure of it, because I was in a hurry. It was not read to me at all. If someone had said this is to form a 'home rule' school district charter, I would not have signed it."
LaCheryl Johnson signed the petition even though she doesn't live in the Dallas ISD, which is a requirement for her signature to be valid.
"I asked her, 'What is this for?' and she said, 'For funding of DISD schools,'” Johnson recalled. Johnson also said the required disclaimer was never presented to her before she signed the petition.
“That was never read to me,” Johnson said. “I’m sure of it. I am positive, 100 percent positive that it was never read to me."
For the second straight business day, News 8 asked for a response from Support Our Public Schools, the organization leading the home rule campaign. We did not get a response.
Dallas ISD trustees have been made aware of the potential problem regarding the disclaimer, and opponents planned to formally protest at the Thursday night board meeting.