Monday, March 12, 2018

RISD's Legal Response

Former Richardson ISD school board trustee David Tyson, Jr., has sued the RISD, alleging its at-large election system is a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He wants RISD to change to single-member-districts, in an effort to elect more minorities to the school board. As they say, the longer you are personally following a story, the less respect you have for media coverage. It's not always their fault — there are so many stories and so few good reporters. Gone are the days when The Dallas Morning News assigned Jeffrey Weiss to regularly cover RISD. And so instead we get drive-by reporting like The Dallas Morning News's James Ragland's recent coverage of the lawsuit.

Two paragraphs will do to explain my lack of respect here. In one, Ragland says:
Richardson ISD officials must stop acting like the sky is falling and start talking about how to fix the problems Tyson raised in his lawsuit.
Source: James Ragland.
Ragland offers no evidence that anyone in RISD is "acting like the sky is falling." What apparently set Ragland off was the RISD's pro forma legal response to the lawsuit, denying that the RISD is breaking the law. D'oh. What did Ragland expect the legal response to be? "Oh, you're right, you caught us breaking the law. We surrender. Now dictate the terms of our surrender." Instead, the RISD's legal response is the standard response to any lawsuit. Any other response would amount to legal malpractice on the part of RISD's legal team.

At the same time the RISD is answering the lawsuit in court, Ragland himself offers evidence that the RISD is also doing exactly as Ragland suggests: "start talking about how to fix the problems Tyson raised." Ragland himself quotes RISD spokesman:
"We are looking at how to resolve this lawsuit in the best way possible for everyone involved," RISD spokesman Chris Moore said Friday.
Source: James Ragland.
What's really important here is what's happening out of the public eye. I don't have inside information about the discussions between RISD and David Tyson's lawyers. And apparently James Ragland doesn't either. If James Ragland really wants to do some real journalism, that's the story he'd be digging for. Discussions between the RISD and David Tyson's lawyers are underway to resolve the lawsuit, as Chris Moore says, in the best way possible for everyone involved. And that includes David Tyson and the minority communities he is doing this for. Things might still come to a standstill, but how about we chill until we know?

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