President of DISD 'Home Rule' campaign short on specifics, details

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 22 at 4:14 PM

DALLAS -- The man at the top of the DISD Home Rule initiative is on the hot seat these days.

The initiative is called Support Our Public Schools and the president, Wilton Hollins, is having difficulty being specific on a number of topics related to the home rule issue.

And that’s one of the main reasons opponents are trying to derail the initiative before it gets started.

The founders of Support Our Public Schools are a group of Dallas-area businessmen and women who say their goal is to improve graduation rates, educational outcomes at DISD, and take the governance of the district away from the state. But that is where the specifics end.

The nebulous nature of the group's objectives is what's creating rabid opposition around the city.

Friday, News 8 sat down with Hollins to talk about the group's inability to articulate its goals.

Even Hollins had problems discussing his concerns about DISD operations.

"I don't know if there's one person or one group we can point our fingers towards, which is why we need to put a commission together to look at all of the avenues, all of the ways to improve the school district,” he said. “We can't focus on one problem, our goal is to get the conversation started."

A goal of the Home Rule opponents is to find out exactly who is funding the campaign that is attracting influential supporters, including three current and former Dallas mayors. Hollins said the financial backers wish to remain anonymous.

"The nature of the 501c4 means that we don't release that information -- that's confidential information,” Hollins said.

During the interview, the Support Our Public Schools president kept repeating talking points about low graduation rates at DISD, poor college readiness, and the need for change. But when asked about the complex set of initiatives being instituted by new DISD Superintendent Mike Miles, a campaign known as Destination 20-20, Hollins again had difficulty with the answer.

“You can contact anyone in the school district to discuss that,” Hollins said. “What I want to discuss is how we go forward from now."

It's that lack of specificity that has opponents of the Home Rule initiative on the attack and asking questions: Who's really behind Support Our Public Schools, and why?

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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