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DALLAS -- Opponents of the proposed DISD Home Rule initiative showed up in force Tuesday, blasting the charter movement as a veiled attempt to privatize education in Dallas.

Supporters deny their claims, and say the process is one of inclusion.

A large group of mostly minority community leaders gathered at DISD headquarters spoke out Tuesday against the plan, supported by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other prominent local leaders, to break away from state-run public education and create a new, locally-run school system.

Proponents of the movement call themselves 'Support Our Public Schools.' But DISD Trustee Carla Ranger sees it as anything but support of public education.

'As opposed to 'Supporting Our Public Schools,' or SOPS, they are sopping up our voting rights, they are sopping up democracy, they are sopping up the 'public' in public education,' Ranger said.

Support Our Public Schools proponents, especially Mayor Rawlings, have taken a public relations hit for their lack of details and transparency, declining to reveal a list of financial backers.

'Secretive, divisive, out-of-the-blue, lacking information, lacking input, questionable supporters,' said opponent and Latino community leader Hector Florez, describing the 'home rule' movement.

Supporters say the critics have it wrong. They claim the writing of a local education code would be done by locals. They say existing school board members would appoint a 15-member charter commission made up, in large part, of teachers and parents.

'I can't imagine that they would intentionally or nefariously decide that they are going to do away with their own rights and their own due process rights,' said Support Our Public Schools Co-Founder Jeronimo Valdez. 'So I don't think there's any disenfranchisement of the community.'

And while Home Rule supporters have a web page, they have yet to produce a message, like was being heard out front of DISD Tuesday.

'As a Dallas ISD trustee, I ask you to just say no to the takeover of Dallas ISD,' Ranger said.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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