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TEA Monitors Arrive In Dallas For Weeklong Investigation Of Schools

Bill Zeeble
TEA monitors will meet with Superintendent Miles and other top administrators as they determine whether Dallas is doing what's needed to fix ailing schools and special programs. Findings arrive in 6 to 8 weeks.

Seven experts started their week long look into Dallas schools today.  The Texas Education Agency is checking up on low-performing campuses and programs that haven’t met state standards.

Thirty-four Dallas schools fall into the “performance required” category, so monitors are touring many of those campuses and will meet with Superintendent Mike Miles and other top administrators. The TEA’s DeEtta Culbertson says the agency’s also looking at programs like Special Education, targeting certain groups of students.

“It means that the program hasn’t met the performance standards for a set number of years,” explains Culbertson. “Therefore they move up to what’s called a ‘Stage 2.’ And it triggers their visit.”

TEA monitors are also looking at Career and Technology and Bilingual and ESL programs. Culbertson says this monitoring isn’t designed to be punitive, but geared to make sure district programs are meeting state requirements.

“This is not a ‘getcha’ type of visit,” says Culbertson. “This is a visit to find areas of improvement so that these students can be properly served while they’re in the special  programs.” 

The DISD’s Chief of Leadership,  Sylvia Reyna, is curious what the TEA may find in its eventual report. But she’s not worried, in part because the district has known about the problems the TEA’s looking into, and has fixes in place. She says that includes adding staff to troubled schools and more resources to selected programs.

“Very frankly, I’m the kind of person, that is kind of - let’s  identify the problems and then let’s fix them,” says Reyna. “My mother used to say there’s no shame in having problems. There’s shame in having problems and not fixing them.” 

Dallas isn’t the only target of monitors. Last week, they visited San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Midland schools among others. Next week they’ll visit yet more districts around Texas.

The Dallas monitors will share their findings with DISD officials Friday, then deliver a final report in 6 to 8 weeks. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.