After a meeting to discuss the fate of the Dallas ISD District 4 seat that had been held by Jaime Resendez was canceled last week, the rest of the board was able to hammer out the details on what steps would be taken to appoint someone to the seat.
The board first voted to accept Resendez’s resignation. The trustee came under fire after it was discovered last month that he was living outside District 4 by a few blocks.
Resendez had already announced that he did not intend to run for re-election, opting to instead run to replace Dallas city council member Rickey Don Callahan, who had announced he would not be running for another term.
However, as of today, Resendez has not filed to run for that seat either — Yolanda Williams is the sole filer. Resendez has until Feb. 15 to file.
Once the matter of his resignation was handled, the board then turned to crafting a timeline and requirements for gathering applicants to fill the unexpired term — which amounts to three or four months.
The meeting was not without some fireworks, however. Trustee Joyce Foreman, angered that she only just received a timeline when the previous (and canceled) meeting had no mention of a timeline, grilled board attorney Carlos Lopez.
“Who did this?” she demanded.
“Carlos Lopez, the board attorney did the timeline,” board president Edwin Flores replied.
“Who talked to him?” Foreman said before asking if Flores had asked Lopez for it.
Lopez explained to the board that he chose to come up with a template of sorts for them to craft a process to fill the post.
“I went and crafted a suggested timeline, based on what other districts have done,” he said. “It’s pretty generic, actually.”
Lopez said that the board was under a time constraint since they would be choosing an appointee while an election was happening to fill Resendez’s seat.
“Those are just suggestions, you can tinker with it as much as you want,” he told the board regarding the draft. “This is just a template.”
That answer didn’t satisfy Foreman, who wanted to know when the conversation took place, and who it was with, and whether it was before or after the canceled meeting, demanding that Lopez check his notes.
Flores attempted to interject, insisting that Foreman was out of order for asking the question, since the motion before the board was regarding developing a process for picking a replacement.
“You’re not gonna snowball me with that,” Foreman said to Flores. “I’m going to continue to ask questions.”
“Yuu’re out of order,” Flores said
“I don’t care,” Foreman said.
Later in the meeting, Lopez reviewed his notes and was able to tell Foreman that he began asking fellow attorneys at his firm, Thompson & Horton, to research how other districts had tackled the same issue the day after last regularly called board meeting, when the board met in executive session to discuss Resendez’s situation.
Once they had an idea of what other districts had done, he crafted a draft timeline, and then sent that to Flores.
“We do want to fill the seat as quickly as possible with a process that is fair and orderly,” trustee Dan Micciche said, adding that whoever is appointed will be filling the term for either three months or four months, if there is a runoff election.
Currently, only one candidate has filed to run for the Dallas ISD District 4 seat – Karla Garcia, an associate with Dallas County Promise, an organization aiming to send every graduating senior to college for free at nearly three dozen Dallas County high schools
“It’s possible that no candidate has a majority of us supporting them becoming a trustee,” said trustee Dustin Marshall. “What happens in that scenario?”
Lopez said that would probably be advice he’d give the board in a closed session, while they were discussing the applicants.
Marshall also discussed practicalities — should the appointee get the vote from the board and then be expected to be up to speed by a Feb. 28 board meeting?
“I think that’s an unusually high bar,” he said. Trustee Audrey Pinkerton agreed that the board should take into account the learning curve a new appointee would have to deal with.
But the newest member of the board — Justin Henry — said he didn’t know that an extra week or two would alleviate that learning curve.
“As a new trustee, did watch briefings and meetings, but I was intending to run,” he said. “If we frame the date based on what they’re going to know or not, it may not be the best approach. Whether they get sworn in sooner or later, it’s going to be tough to get up to speed.”
Lopez also told the board that there’s no legal precedent that demands that candidates that ran against Resendez in the last election should get “first dibs” on the appointment.
The other slight bone of contention was whether someone running for the seat in the May election should be considered for the appointment, and what the board would require the applicants provide in the submission process, which will be available online.
Marshall said he’d like to exclude people who are already running for the seat, asking that the board require the person not be running in May.
“I don’t think we should be limiting people,” Foreman said.
Marshall said that while they board may not include it as a requirement, he won’t support an appointee who is also running for the seat, because of how close the appointment comes to the election.
“I won’t personally support anyone who is seeking election,” Marshall he said, adding that he felt doing so would be “putting a thumb on the scale” of the election.
“We’re elected to this seat from our constituency. I think people should elect who sits in this seat,” he said. “If you’re sitting in this seat by appointment, that’s something different. For me, whoever fills Jaime’s seat should be temporary. If you’re also running for that seat, that doesn’t align.”
“We have a responsibility as an elected body,” Foreman said.
Henry said he feels like it’s not the place of the board to be choosing who represents a district, adding that he realizes “we’re in difficult circumstances and it’s not our fault,” and that the person who wants to permanently replace Resendez should “go earn it from your community.”
“I don’t want to undermine that community,” he said.
“I don’t know that it’s bad if someone’s running, but I’d like to keep our options open,” Trustee Lew Blackburn said. Pinkerton said the point could be moot, since they have no idea how many will apply, but that she’d like to see a place on any form applicants fill out include an area a statement on why the person is seeking the appointment.
“If they can’t take the time to fill out the boxes on the form, then they might not be the dedicated person that we need,” she said.
In the end, it was agreed that applicants will be required to meet the minimum requirements to run in District 4 and submit a letter of interest and a resume as part of the application process.
The agreed timeline is as follows:
- Feb. 6 — The District will issue a press release opening the seat up for applications and resumes;
- Feb. 19 — The deadline to submit applications and resumes, by 5 p.m., whether by electronic submission by paper. Paper submissions must be in the board office by 5 p.m.
- Feb. 28 — The Board will hold a called meeting prior to the regular school board meeting to review applications in closed session;
- March 4 — The Board will interview applicants in closed session, and then will vote in open session to appoint their selection.
Shortly after the meeting, Pinkerton took to Facebook to announce that she would not be seeking re-election either, saying that she is making a career change that will not allow her to fulfill the duties of trustee, and that it was a “difficult decision.”
“As I look back over the past three years, I am proud of what I’ve helped accomplish. When I joined the board, 37 DISD schools were failing; today there are only 4.
DISD administrators made a number of positive changes at my urging. The Teacher Excellence Initiative was adjusted from a system where 40% of teachers did not get a raise, to one where 97% of teachers receive a merit-based increase. For the first time ever, DISD developed a 5 year financial plan, which revealed a potential financial crisis that the district was able to take action to avoid. And after hosting a series of public meetings that invited parents into the discussion, we convinced the District to seek other alternatives rather than close 22 neighborhood schools.”
I am proud to have stood for transparency and accountability, for the needs of the students, families, staff and community, and for using our scarce resources in the areas that have the highest impact on students.
I want to thank my family for their patience and support, and the people of District 7 and education champions all around Dallas for their words of appreciation and encouragement during the past three years.
While I brought a business perspective to school district governance, my service did not begin with elected office, but rather as a parent and civic-minded neighbor engaging our community in support of our schools. If the next Trustee for District 7 continues to engage the many talents of our community and upholds the principles of transparency and accountability, then I’m confident the spirit of THINK PINK will continue to serve our children in the future.”
So far there are no filers for the District 7 seat.