The North Dallas Gazette has held a high standard as it relates to ensuring the awareness needs of the communities we serve. As we march forward with providing quality, accurate, and up to date information is distributed to our readership; we cannot say the same for Irving ISD.
With more than 67 percent of its students being Hispanic and 12 percent being African American, Irving ISD (IISD) is failing in keeping its residents informed on their initiatives to acquire various exemption status via the House Bill 1842, also known as District of Innovation (DoI). This grant gives traditional independent school districts, such as IISD, most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. To access these flexibilities, a school district must adopt an innovation plan, as set forth in the Texas Education Code chapter 12A.
Granted IISD held a meeting on March 2 to begin the public “awareness” phase of the district’s intent on how the District of Innovation proposal will be implemented to better serve students and teachers but the overall participation from local media that serve the minority communities has been obsolete. Nonexistent to be frank.
On the Irving ISD YouTube page a video, District of Innovation Public Meeting March 2 was posted on March 3 and to date, the video only has 41 views. In the video, an administrator presented facts as it relates to what issues the district is seeking to address through the DoI. While IISD boasts that it is ensuring the overall success of the students and teachers, the video shows proposed amendments that benefit teachers, then students. Hopefully.
Some of the proposed amendments include:
- Better control of setting the school calendar each year
- Hiring of students new to IISD
- Certification requirements of special program teachers
- Teaching/learning hours for Pre-K students
- More assistance from administration as it relates to Campus Behavior Coordinators
If the IISD school board approves each of these exemption requests then the plan would begin at the beginning of the 2017/2018 school year and would last five years (2021/2022), with termination clauses if deemed unsuccessful. The DoI committee is compromised of parents, businesses, teachers and administrators. However, in the video, it is stated that the board was set up to represent two-thirds of the teachers and one-third of the IISD administrators. While some may not see a problem with the makeup of the committee, some can argue that this can become an issue because parental and student involvement is not a priority as IISD states.
Teachers of IISD may or may not effectively separate the needs of the individual student or students of a particular school when it comes to exemptions that could benefit IISD as a whole. The North Dallas Gazette’s concern is that depending on the socioeconomic status of a student or school, will this proposal for exemptions be mutually beneficial or will it be biased based on the needs of individuals seeking to line their pockets with more opportunities and money?
Our hope is that IISD does more community outreach via local media outlets to make all parents aware of the current DoI grant. We all know that sending a flyer home with a child is no longer effective once the child reaches middle school. We know that parental involvement in PTA is not guaranteed. But we do know that local media involvement can bring about awareness that DoI needs to ensure the students are the first priority.
Parents who want to know more about the exemption requests can leave a voicemail hotline at 972-600-5412 and an administrator will return your call or post your answer to IISD’s Frequently Asked Questions page. Or you can send an email to DoI@irvingisd.net. For more information about the District of Innovation process in Irving ISD, please contact Associate Superintendent of Academic Services Dr. Adam Grinage or Division Director of Student Support Services Dr. Laina McDonald.
To note there are at least five districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex that are seeking the DoI grant. It is important to note that the Texas Education Agency does not have authority to approve or reject plans. Consequently, some plans may claim unallowable exemptions. This is why it is important for districts to involve local community media outlets to ensure that each plan meets the guidelines set forth by the House Bill 1842. A gross neglect of students is inevitable when the media is excluded.