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TEA Commissioner Talked to City

Commissioner Robert Scott

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas, TX – State law contains provisions for the state's education commissioner to appoint someone to take control of a troubled school district. KERA's Shelley Kofler has more on what the commissioner's office is saying.

In a written statement to KERA, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott confirms he's talked to legislators and city leaders about a remedy for DISD's budget problems. But Scott declined to say whether he discussed a city take-over of the school district.

Scott said: "I have been working with Dallas ISD to ensure that officials there remedy the district's budget shortfall and will continue to do so. I have certainly had conversations with legislators, as well as city leaders, about the status of Dallas ISD but I have nothing further to announce at this time."

State Representative Roberto Alonzo is co-chair of the Dallas delegation in Austin. He says he had no idea Mayor Leppert had talked to any legislator about the city taking over Dallas schools. Alonzo also thinks it's a bad idea.

Alonzo: I think progress has been made in the school district. I don't think we should get involved when things are moving in a positive manner and we should leave well enough alone.

Under state law the education commissioner can appoint a conservator or management team to oversee a district plagued by poor academic or financial performance. A Texas Education Agency spokesperson says there is nothing that would prevent the commissioner from appointing the mayor or city to do that, but conservators appointed in the past have typically had school administration experience, and that's something Mayor Leppert doesn't have.

News reports quote Dallas Senator Royce West as saying Mayor Leppert spoke to him about helping with legislation that would allow the mayor to oversee DISD. We could not reach Senator West to comment.

Send E-mail to Shelley Kofler