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Judge rules on controversial Dallas home-rule

The fight is on for/against Dallas ISD Home Rule Initiative
The fight is on for/against Dallas ISD Home Rule Initiative
Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Reaction to the judge's ruling came swiftly and emphatically on Friday, June 20 after the Dallas ISD School Board unanimously approved the commission to create the Home Rule charter in a board meeting on Thursday evening following the judge's decision. WFAA's News 8 Now reported on Thursday morning, June 19, that a Dallas judge would make a ruling on whether the Dallas Independent School District could include Home-Rule on the November ballot. By noon on Thursday a decision had been reached. The Dallas judge ruled to allow Home Rule to be placed on the November ballot and that the teachers appointed to the commission would adequately represent the interest of their colleagues.

The Home Rule Initiative whose aim is to convert the DISD into an independent charter-run district was placed on the upcoming ballot when board trustees reviewed and approved more than 26,000 signatures during the board's final meeting of the school year on May 22. Teachers' union Alliance AFT filed suit against the DISD alleging “the district illegally appointed four teachers to the fifteen-member commission” whereas state law requires they be elected rather than appointed. The union asked that the judge delay the trustees' deadline for creating the Home Rule Commission until teachers returned to school for the upcoming school year, but was denied.

Alliance AFT teachers' union is appealing the judge's decision, leading the “aggressive opposition” against Home Rule and the judge's ruling, according to News 8 Update on Friday. DISD trustees made their final selections on the charter commission during a specially-called meeting on Thursday night, charged with drafting a new constitution that would remove state oversight and bring local control to the Dallas ISD. Now that the commission has be formed, commission members should begin work on the replacement constitution soon.

Their opposition, chiefly, Our Community, Our Schools contend that Home Rule's intents are to destroy DISD. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was called out in front of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Convention held Friday in downtown Dallas by critics of Home Rule who said, “Mike Rawlings is on the wrong side of this issue.” They charged that the Dallas mayor's motives “have more to do with money than education,” and that “the objective of all of this is to end up privatizing DISD.”

WFAA reported Friday that others in opposition to Home Rule, like Dallas Friends of Public Education, issued statements mostly protesting the make-up of the commission. Supporters of Home Rule, again, declined to respond to News 8 requests for comment.