Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"They Walked Out on their Community"

"They walked out on their community." So said Carla Ranger, Dallas Independent School District (DISD) trustee about her fellow trustees.

After the jump, what precipitated the walkout and the lesson for Richardson.

For tight budgetary reasons, the board of trustees of the DISD voted to close 11 elementary and middle schools. I'm not going to question the decision (I don't know all the facts), and I'm not going to tell the DISD how to run their meetings. But I am going to ask Richardson's elected officials (both the RISD board of trustees and the city council) to review what was done in Dallas Thursday night and make sure it never happens in Richardson.

According to Unfair Park's Greg Howard:
Of the nine DISD trustees, no more than four or five were in the chamber at any given time to listen to their voters' testimonials, electing to exit out of a door behind their chairs.
Source: Unfair Park.

The audience got unruly, eventually leading the school board to move to the smaller boardroom, where they discussed and voted on the closures while live-streaming their deliberation and vote. That's what led Carla Ranger to pass judgment on the school board: "They walked out on their community." She was right.

Sometimes you have to make the tough decisions. Sometimes the voters are not going to agree with you. But stepping out of public hearings by ones and twos, then moving the meeting altogether to a private room disrespects the voters. That's the wrong decision. Always.