The Clock's Ticking As Dallas School Board Must Pick Commission To Write New Charter | KERA News

The Clock's Ticking As Dallas School Board Must Pick Commission To Write New Charter

May 30, 2014

With the clock ticking, the Dallas school board Friday afternoon began the process of picking those who will write the new home-rule charter that could change how the district is run. The task may seem simple. But it's not.

State law says trustees have 30 days to name 15 residents to the commission. They must reflect the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic  and geographic diversity of the district. Attorney David Thompson, hired by the school board to help with the process, says that won’t be easy.

Attorney J. David Thompson is part of a team hired by the Dallas trustees to guide them through the legal process of the home-rule charter.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

“Because here’s the real issue,” Thompson says. “Dallas is such a large district and is so diverse, how do you appropriately reflect that in only 15 commission members?”

Then there’s the question of what’s meant by “district?" Does it mean the student population, which is 70 percent Hispanic and more than 25 percent African-American? Or is it registered voters? Or residents of voting age, where Hispanics are 40 percent, Anglos one-third, and African-Americans about one-quarter of the total?

Board member Dan Micciche says lawmakers made it complicated.

“The way this statute is written, there’s a high probability that we are going to have litigation," Micciche said. "Almost any conceivable process we come up with is going to have some kind of arguable challenge.”

Trustee Dan Micciche says lawmakers made the home-rule statute so complicated there's almost no way to avoid a lawsuit
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

State law says school board members must pick commission members by June 23. More than 260 people have applied so far.

The group “Support Our Public Schools” turned in enough signatures in late May to force the creation of the 15-member commission. The group wants to change the way Dallas schools operate.