Election 101: Dallas ISD District 2 Race Pits Two Against Incumbent Marshall

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Before we start on District 2, let’s get this out of the way first: Are you going to vote for school board and city council elections? Did you know that right now you can vote pretty much anywhere in the county, making it super convenient to vote on say, during your lunch break?

I bring this up because every May it seems like I have to guilt everyone into voting, and still — hardly anybody does. But boy howdy do people have an opinion about Dallas ISD and how it’s run — but somehow for some of you, those opinions aren’t motivating enough to head to the polls.

Does that say something about the strength of your arguments? I don’t know. But I do know it’s a crying shame that less than 10 percent of all voters make decisions for 100 percent of us. Maybe we should work on changing that this year?

I do know is that once again, I’m going to review each race. Today, we’ll review District 2. Tomorrow we will take a look at the District 6 race. There will be no review for District 8 because incumbent Miguel Solis is the lone contender for the seat. 

Early voting began Monday and goes until May 2 (hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Saturday, 1-6 p.m. on Sunday, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 1 and 2). Election Day is May 6. For early voting locations, click this handy map

As I have in previous elections, I will be breaking down each race and assigning a mathematical value to key endorsements for a final score.

District 2 is this weird doughnut that includes Lakewood, Preston Hollow, and the North Dallas feeder pattern, as well as parts of Midway Hollow. The donut hole would be the Park Cities. Incumbent Dustin Marshall won his seat in a runoff with Mita Havlick the last go-round and is running for a full term this time.

So first let me explain my methodology for coming up with this scoring system. Experience, I think, should be given some weight. So it is assigned a number value of one. Endorsements should matter too, so those are also given a value of one.

I considered four sets of endorsements in this system, largely because the organizations providing them have a regular history of endorsing candidates, are involved in education or are involved in real estate. Since school board elections are traditionally nonpartisan, we do not include partisan endorsements.

The endorsements considered are The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Kids First, the NEA, Alliance AFT, and The Real Estate Council PAC. In this race, Alliance AFT did not endorse a candidate, so there will be a possible score of 4, plus one more in the case of an incumbent (DMN, DKF, NEA, TREC). Because of this, there is the potential of receiving a 5/4 score (all though this is not the case this time).

The District 2 Candidates

District 2 lorikirkpatrickLori Kirkpatrick

NEA +1

Total score: 1/4

Lori Kirkpatrick is a physician’s assistant at Parkland, and Dallas ISD mom with a second grader who attends Lakewood Elementary.  She is also a former foster parent. It is clear from her Dallas Kids First questionnaire, her Dallas Morning New questionnaire, and forums that she knows Dallas ISD, and has a real commitment to children. Among her priorities are fighting any attempt at vouchers, improving and expanding early childhood education in the district so that more children are kindergarten ready, and working to improve teacher retention.

district 2 dustin marshallDustin Marshall

Dallas Kids First +1

Dallas Morning News +1

The Real Estate Council +1

Incumbent +1

Total score: 4/4

Once again, Marshall has won nearly every single major endorsement in this race. And he has had a little time to really dig in and advocate for his district and for the district as a whole. Yes, I disagree with his vote on A-F. But he’s also made smart moves like shepherding a measure through to help streamline and provide guidelines for the transfer process. He’s demonstrated that he understands the widely varied needs of his district – from the wealthiest school in the district in Lakewood, and a school with a large homeless student population like North Dallas High. His children attend Greenhill, however, which is a major dealbreaker for some voters, including his opponent, Lori Kirkpatrick.

district 2 richard d youngRichard D. Young

No Endorsements

Total score: 0/4

Charter school teacher Richard D. Young didn’t intend to run in District 2. He wanted to run in District 8, against Miguel Solis, but geography was his first foe in his bid to become a Dallas ISD school board trustee. [Full disclosure: Young is currently suing Dallas ISD and Foster Elementary, where my child attends school. To the best of my recollection, I have never met Young.]

Young says himself that he has had “toxic relationships” with supervisors in both school districts he has worked for. It is unknown how — if he won — he would conduct his ongoing lawsuit against the district.

My two cents on District 2: Clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the district, a recent kerfuffle regarding Kirkpatrick’s understanding of Marshall’s stance on school vouchers has some wondering if a vote regarding the district’s stance on the TEA’s A through F rating system will end up being the incumbent’s Waterloo.

Marshall insists that his nay vote against a Dallas ISD resolution voicing displeasure regarding the state’s new A-F system was merely asking for time to let the TEA work out the kinks in the system and that he has campaigned against vouchers.

Kirkpatrick is adamant that his vote — combined with the fact that his children attend private school — is a signal of something more nefarious.  

“I can assume that perhaps Mr. Marshall couldn’t speak out against vouchers because he would directly benefit from them, as he sends his children to private school,” she wrote in a recent blog post.

For what it’s worth, I’ve gone on record as well regarding my dislike of the grading system, but remain unconvinced that Marshall’s overall track record screams intent to cut the district he voluntarily works for (for free) off at the knees.

So once again, District 2 voters will have to decide if having children attending a Dallas ISD school is the make or break for a candidate. For many, it is, and Marshall’s vote is a sign of what they’ve feared all along.

Others point to trustees like Miguel Solis and Dan Micciche, who do not have children at all, and yet are able and capable trustees who earn high praises from their constituents. It is also worth mentioning that the other nay vote that night was Edwin Flores, who has been active in his children’s Dallas ISD schools.

Editor’s Note: Overviews of Dallas ISD races should not be construed as endorsements. CandysDirt.com does not endorse school board candidates. 

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

Reader Interactions


  1. Millie says

    Thank you Bethany for your very fair assessment of the race. I would point out that the Dallas Morning News is strongly in favor of TEI and Lori believes that TEI is one reason that we have high teacher turnover and they made it clear that they would not endorse someone who is critical of TEI. Lori also recently received an endorsement from the Network for Public Education. Mr. Marshall, in a forum at Mata Elementary, stated that he believes charter schools are a good thing despite the fact that charter schools take away money from DISD.

    I’d urge voters to take a look at his donors. It’s interesting that so many CEO’s and millionaires from outside of District 2 have donated so much to Marshall’s campaign. Marshall himself has stated that he is an educational reformer. The educational reformers are the same people that backed Mayor Rawlings’ attempt to turn DISD into one large charter school a few years.

  2. Nick says

    Candidates please take the following quiz: Name 10 schools, 10 teachers and 10 students from your district. If you can’t do this please withdraw from this election.

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