I read the front-page DMN story today about the home-rule movement for DISD, and I thought, “Oh, man, they still don’t have their messaging together.” Here’s how the story in the paper wraps up:
Rawlings and the group said they did not have a grand vision for a DISD charter. When asked why the community would support a plan that hasn’t been outlined, some group members said the effort would give the public a blank page and lets them write the future of Dallas ISD.
“The power is the blank page,” Rawlings said. “The citizens for the first time get to decide what they want to do.”
What? They have no vision? The power is the blank page? No, no, NO. People are going to hate that. But then I watched this video.Full Story
Downed Officer’s Kit Saves Life. Downed Officer’s Kits, which were developed in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been handed to DPD officers. On Saturday, when police officer Joshua Burns was shot, a fellow officer had the kit and used it on him, saving his life. The kits, which contain a tourniquet, bandage, and blood clotting gauze, cost between $50 and $60. Originally, 3,200 were purchased in preparation of the JFK 50th Memorial. Now, officers are advocating for more.
Garland Wants ISD to Fire New Superintendent. There’s a lot going on here: a new superintendent, a longtime administrator put on administrative leave after an investigation was launched, and teachers protesting with bags over their heads. Take a look.
Frisco Regulates E-Cigarettes. If you’re in Frisco, and you vape, you can no longer vape where you can’t smoke. The ordinance passed 6-0 last night and will take effect next month.
Fair Park’s Summer Adventures Canceled. State Fair organizers spent $30 million creating attractions and making improvements at Fair Park to open Summer Adventures last summer. Unfortunately, too few people visited. So the program—along with the positions that were created for it—is gone. City Council member Dwaine Caraway has a few thoughts about the sudden closure of the program. “It’s a boot in the butt as far as I’m concerned,” he told WFAA 8.Full Story
This headline just
trolled me showed up in my Twitter feed:
Oh my stars. Okay, if you don’t remember all the details of this absolute b.s. investigation, I don’t have the energy to recount it again. Just know I wanted to call your attention to this because, really, it’s the perfect DMN DISD blog post. Its construction is a thing of beauty:Full Story
Norovirus Outbreak at Richardson School. Approximately 1,400 students at Richard High School were absent this past week. Lab results show that they’re sick from the norovirus. The illness has been so prevalent that students were wearing masks, carrying disinfectant, and starting #RHSPlague.
Homeowner Using House as Synagogue Sued by Neighbor. Rabbi Yaakov Rich has been using his house as a synagogue. He hosts services every day, two times a day. Some of his neighbors aren’t fans. One is suing for $50,000 saying that the synagogue lowers the land value of his home. Others have posted signs saying “Keep Us Residential Only.”
SMU Player Markus Kennedy Surprises His Mom. This is a very sweet video and story. On Saturday, SMU’s Markus Kennedy scored 21 points during his game against Memphis. After the game, he found out that the NCAA had provided a waiver so he could fly home to see his mom who was being deployed for eight months to Kuwait. The video you see is Kennedy surprising his mom.Full Story
The mother of a student at Prime Prep Academy in Dallas claims the school won’t allow her to withdraw her child from classes.
Keshia Singleton says there are no teachers in most of her son’s 10th grade classes, and that most days, her son just signs in and waits for the bell.
Ten educators were fired and two resigned earlier in the year at the charter school.
We are now at the point where news like this doesn’t even make me raise an eyebrow. I don’t think anything would. “Reports say a sentient crocodile has been hired to teach chemistry.” Shrug. “A concerned parent says the school’s music class exclusively centers on Deion Sanders’ 1994 rap album, Prime Time.” OK, sure. “History books have been replaced by Sanders’ Power, Money & Sex, TEA source claims.” What are you, a Geico commercial? SURPRISE ME, SON. “Investigation results released: Prime Prep Academy discovered to be telepathic figment of our collective imagination, brought into existence by billionaire philanthropist Adrian Veidt, also known as the former superhero Ozymandias.” Yaaaaawn.Full Story
Yet More Turmoil at Deion’s Prime Prep. Ten people were fired, and two resigned. And more cuts are possible today, as the charter school co-founded by Deion Sanders is under investigation by the TEA. The new superintendent of the school, Ron Price, said, “We were too darn top-heavy as an institution. Prime Prep will no longer be known as the financial lottery ticket for those who don’t understand how to educate children.” When Ron Price is your cleanup man, that’s when you know you’re in trouble. Remember him?
17 Dallas County Flu Deaths So Far. For the first time, Dallas County is tracking adult flu deaths. We’re at 17 so far, with no pediatric deaths. The county reported 378 flu-related hospitalizations. Officials are warning people about elevated flu activity in the coming weeks. It’s not too late to get a flu shot. That right there is news you can use.
Cold Snap To Test Power Grid Again. Yesterday we narrowly avoided rolling blackouts. Me, I’ve got my thermostat turned up to 80, and I’m writing this post from my hot shower, where I’m using two hair dryers (one for my beard, the other for my nether turf). But you, you should watch how much electricity you use this morning.Full Story
Local Magazine Editor Was On TV Last Night. You can see that right here.
Local Billionaire Robert Rowling Part of Eight-Person UT Football Coach Search Committee. OK, I know I’ve been out of pocket for the past couple of weeks, guys, but I’m prepared now to give you an answer: yes, I’ll do it. As long as I’m allowed to have Sinbad and Scott Bakula on the team.
Milton Dohoney Jr. Remains At the Top of My Dallas City Manager Candidate Power Rankings. Three of the six candidates interviewed with the city council yesterday. Two of them — David Cooke and Jonathan Mantay — gave insanely generic quotes following their interviews. Dohoney, though, declined to comment. So, Dohoney has two things going for him: he gives off a strong whiff of Perd Hapley, and he knows when to keep his mouth shut. But he’s not A.C. Gonzalez, and this is all pretty much a sham, so whatever.
Tire Fire At Prime Prep Academy Continues Unabated. Kind of feel like going to a board meeting at this point.Full Story
I give Dallas’ Only Daily a lot of grief in this space for its education coverage, so I think in the spirit of fair play I should single it out for praise: This week’s stories (first on here, second here) on the goofy real estate deals — wherein a real estate broker was paid an exorbitantly high commission of 9 percent — were great watchdog-y stuff.
The lead from the follow-up story neatly sums up what was at issue here:Full Story
With parents’ antennae raised about possible school closures, a battle is being fought on Twitter today over whether Dallas ISD’s official account is @dallasschools or @DISD_official. My money’s on the former because A) it has more than 4,400 followers as opposed to 65, and B) the latter is being propped up by a guy who […]Full Story
Cellphone Data On the Rise As a Tool For Prosecutors. It helps if the person using the phone is as dumb as Franklin Davis, sentenced to death for the murder of 16-year-old Shania Gray. He “used his phone to research how to get away with murder; to send fake texts that appeared as if they came from Shania’s phone; and to look for the location of the Irving park where he killed her. Also recovered on Davis’ phone were recordings of phone conversations Davis had with Shania while posing as someone else to gain her confidence.” I mean, if you are Googling how to get away with murder, there is zero chance you are getting away with murder. Sergey Brin should fix it so if you actually perform that search the only result you get is “TURN YOURSELF IN. DON’T MAKE IT ANY WORSE THAN IT ALREADY IS.”
Little Elm Mother Attacks Daughter’s Alleged Bullies, Is Arrested. Alexandra Harris’ family says that her middle-school-age daughter had been targeted by bullies at school. That’s why, when Harris saw a scuffle on the school bus and believed her daughter was being attacked, she boarded the bus and hit and kicked two students.
I’ve Been Busy This Year So I Didn’t Realize There Was Actually a Merry Christmas Law, And Some School In Frisco Is Not Following It. Nichols Elementary in Frisco is having a winter party and its prohibition of references to Christmas or any other religious holiday; red or green Christmas trees; and anything that might stain a carpet flies in the face of that law and will probably make society cave in on itself.Full Story
The paper is coming around. On Wednesday, James Ragland wrote a column that clearly took aim at the home-rule movement, saying its backers wanted to “blow up the district.” An accompanying news story about the signature-gathering efforts painted a picture of confusion. Now this.
The DMN just put up an editorial endorsing the home-rule movement, saying, “It’s clear to this newspaper, as it has been for some time, that this is the conversation we must have to reform and improve public education. If it takes signing this petition, you should. It beats running to the suburbs.” Tod Robberson, too, posted an item a few minutes ago that supports the movement. You know who made that happen? Rawlings. As Robberson writes, “It’s wonderful when a politician throws caution to the wind, abandons political niceties and tells it like it is.”
It’s too early to say for certain, but we might be watching the defining moment of Rawlings’ tenure.Full Story
Today is D Academy’s education day. We’re holed up in a classroom at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. Students were telling me how they’re learning Chinese and might go to Japan. I would like to do both of those things, but no such luck. In any event, as part of the day, Eric Celeste was set to moderate a panel with Mike Morath, District 2 Dallas ISD board member; Rena Honea, Alliance AFT president; and Tarick Ward, who is literally a rocket scientist but now works at Commit! I’m sure this panel would have been perfectly interesting if it had occurred a few weeks ago. But holy hell, it got interesting in light of the current home-rule discussion. Video to come, but for now, here are some highlights.Full Story
While it may be difficult for many older Texas physicians to make the transition to a more collaborative, 21st-century approach, the establishment of the South Texas medical school and the Dell School of Medicine in Austin will train the future medical workforce with a foundation for interdisciplinary cooperation. Full StoryFull Story
Can Dallas ISD Turn Into a Home-Rule District? Technically, yes, because of a 1995 state law. And the group Support Our Public Schools is trying to do it. On Tuesday, petitioners will meet Dallasites at the primary polls, looking to collect nearly 25,000 signatures. With the necessary signatures, the proposal could get on the ballot as early as November. No specific changes are on the table yet beyond the home-rule proposal, which would allow DISD to largely operate separate of state control. It would be the first district in the state to do so.
Part of Sylvan Thirty Burns Down. The West Dallas project was engulfed in flames (video) Saturday afternoon, setting off a two-alarm fire allegedly started by someone welding inside. The two-story building, the remnants of which will now be torn down, was going to house a yoga studio and a restaurant as one part of the $50 million project.
Steve Blow: Stop It. Just Stop It. It looks like he’s talking to us, all of you in the comments section, and certainly Patrick Kennedy. We all need to stop talking about tearing down I-345 because, “It’s never, ever, not-in-a-million-years going to happen.” Okay then.
Today Could Be the Coldest Day of the Season. That’s according to meteorologist Jesse Moore. Schools are closed, there’s a wind chill advisory until 8 a.m., and it’s cold. Very cold. Stay safe out there. More updates here.Full Story
DFW Airport Has Refunded More than $648,000 in Parking Charges. The same $56 million system that made entering and exiting a nightmare after it was installed last September has resulted in overcharges to more 4,100 drivers who use toll tags. One guy got a $108 bill for a 10-minute trip to the airport. Another had a bill of $1,096 for an even shorter trip.
Dale Hansen on Ellen Today. Everybody’s favorite blustering old Dallas sportscaster continues to be showered with praise for his “Unplugged” commentary from Monday night’s newscast. On Thursday he was in Los Angeles taping an appearance for Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, which will air at 3 p.m. Friday on NBC 5.
Frisco Principal Resigns After Medicine Goes Missing. David Wehmeyer of Corbell Elementary quit after allegedly stealing drugs from the school nurse’s office.
McKinney Couple Face Tragedy of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Usually “early-onset” means someone in his 60s or 50s, but Jason Manthe was diagnosed in his 30s. Now his wife Kam must care for him, as well as their four children. The disease has long been known as “the long goodbye” because it strips away the mind of a loved one and leaves only a shell of that person behind. The Manthes’ situation brings a whole other heartbreaking level of meaning to that phrase:
“If somebody dies in a car accident, they’re no longer there and you mourn their loss,” she said. “But you don’t see them every day. But I wake up next to him every day and have to look at him every day.
“The Jason I fell in love with, and the husband and father we know, is not there.”
It’s Valentine’s Day. And a holiday for D Magazine HQ. Hug somebody you love. Then go see RoboCop.Full Story
Texas Native Could Become First Openly Gay NFL Player. University of Missouri alum and NFL prospect Michael Sam came out to his teammates in August and graduated in December. Now, in anticipation of May’s NFL draft and as he believed rumors were starting to circulate, he decided to go public. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told The New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.” Commentary quickly ensued.
Bobsledder Gets Trapped in Bathroom, Breaks Through Door. Oh, Sochi. This is entertaining for the picture alone. Johnny Quinn, a U.S. bobsledder and former University of North Texas football captain, got trapped in his hotel bathroom Saturday and was forced to use his “bobsled push training to break out.”
Comings and Goings. UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa will announce this morning that he’s resigning, Fox’s meteorologist Ron Jackson is retiring after 32 years on the job, and Dr. Fred Cerise is set to sign a contract to take on the job of Parkland Memorial Hospital CEO.
Headline: Man in Banana Costume With Rifle Cited by Police. Citizens were concerned.Full Story
Fort Worth Woman Taken Off Life Support. After a two-month battle that played out on networks across the country, 33-year-old Marlise Muñoz can finally be laid to rest. The controversy over whether a pregnant woman can be taken off life support turned into national news when two days after suffering an embolism, Muñoz’s family was denied that request. John Peter Smith Hospital cited a 1999 Texas law that states a pregnant woman must be kept on life support until the fetus is viable. The fetus, in this instance, had suffered the same loss of oxygen Muñoz had and was “distinctly abnormal.” The family sued the hospital, and on Friday, state district judge R.H. Wallace ruled in their favor. The hospital did not appeal. Life support was withdrawn Sunday.
Grade Changed for SMU Basketball Player. It looks like Keith Frazier, an SMU star, shouldn’t have graduated from Kimball High School last year. A Dallas Independent School District audit shows that Frazier didn’t have enough credits and was failing three classes as the 2013 academic year came to a close. But a week after classes ended, at least one of those failing grades changed to passing. There’s also a line in this WFAA investigation that claims Frazier transferred to Kimball in 2012 to play ball, a violation of Texas rules. This whole situation just makes me sad. Students deserve better.
Civil Rights Activist Adelfa Callejo Dies at 90. Callejo grew up protesting and became the first Hispanic woman to graduate from SMU law school. She would become a prominent Dallas lawyer, fighting for immigration and education causes and battling oppression she faced as a Mexican-American woman with a law degree. Nicknamed La Madrina, “The Godmother,” Callejo preferred to call herself the “millionaire militant,” reports the Dallas Morning News, insisting that her “wealth bolstered her independence.” She died Sunday after a fight with brain cancer.
Taxi Fight Leads to Identity Theft Bust. Security breaches are currently top off mind (Target, Neiman Marcus, and now Michaels, possibly), but in 2011, a massive ring fell apart after one of the participants assaulted a taxi driver over $40. This led police to the Le Meridien Hotel, where a room was searched and police uncovered “piles of money” and social security numbers used to file fraudulent tax returns, making them millions. Five people have since been convicted.
The Next George Bush. Politico has a profile of George Prescott Bush, son of Jeb, nephew of George W. Bush, and grandson of George H.W. Bush. The 37-year-old is running for commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. The piece calls him a lock for the position but raises a more interesting question: what will George P.’s entrance into politics mean for the Republican party and the state? It’s worth a read.Full Story
Texas High School Juniors Failing Tests, Nearly 25 percent Might Not Graduate. Fifteen tests used to be required, but that number was dropped to just five this year. Still, some 338,000 students could potentially not graduate in 2015 because they aren’t passing the tests. These figures come amid complaints that funding issues remain throughout the state and that wealthier districts receive more money than their less-fortunate counterparts.
200 Laptops Missing from Prime Prep Academy. Last week, a mother claimed that the school wouldn’t allow her to withdraw her student. This week, Prime Prep, which once purported being on the cutting edge of technology, is missing 200 of its laptops. According to a News 8 report, a contractor hired by the school may have been instructed to sell them. And they were purchased with taxpayer dollars. So there’s that.
Zebra Mussels Continue to Invade Texas Lakes. Well crud. The invasive little buggers have made their way into Lavon Lake. But scientists aren’t panicking or particularly surprised. They think the mussels may have hitched a ride on a boat. However they came, they shouldn’t pose an immediate threat to the North Texas Municipal Water District, but water intake pipes could be affected down the line.Full Story
I just received my very first set of Dallas Heroes Trading Cards. There are 25 different cards total, and they range from Juanita Craft and Ned Fritz to Al Lipscomb and Barefoot Sanders. The cards are being dispersed around the city, courtesy of bcWorkshop, a nonprofit design center.Full Story
Dallas ISD Tops TEA’s Worst Schools List. On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency released its annual list of low-performing public schools, and DISD had the most below-standard campuses of any district in the state. That’s 57 Dallas schools from which students now have the right to transfer, of 892 statewide. By comparison, Houston (the state’s largest district) had 53 on the list. Because of the switch to a new testing system the last two years, schools didn’t make the grade if their passing rates were less than 50% in any two of the previous three years, or if they were rated academically unacceptable on the old TAKS tests in 2011. Superintendent Mike Miles points out that 12 of the 57 subpar DISD schools, including Woodrow Wilson High School, actually met state passing standards in 2013.
Flu Deaths Spur Rush on Vaccinations. Hard to blame folks for being anxious to get their flu shots after many news reports of 19 deaths from the virus, plus a newly reported case in Wise County in which a man died from the H1N1 strain. The family of 41-year-old Christopher Waskom says he didn’t even known that he had the flu when he passed away on New Year’s Eve. Everybody be careful out there.
Avoid Interstate 30 Across Lake Ray Hubbard. That’s generally good advice during any normal rush hour, but this morning especially. A multi-vehicle wreck before dawn has resulted in the highway being shut down in both directions around Dalrock Road for hours, possibly until midday.Full Story
FBI Still Investigating Dallas County DA Craig Watkins. Yes, this is still going on. To recap: Al Hill III, H.L. Hunt’s great-grandson, was charged with mortgage fraud after he acquired a $500,000 loan using a home he claimed to own as collateral. In truth, he only owned 20 percent of the home. That charge was eventually dismissed, but in the process, Hill alleged that Watkins indicted him as a favor to Lisa Blue, a Watkins benefactor. Watkins was held in contempt of court. Blue was investigated by the FBI and cleared. But the Watkins inquiries continue.
Pregnant Woman Being Kept on Life Support Despite Family’s Requests. On November 26, Marlise Machado Muñoz, 33, collapsed on her kitchen floor. Today, she is in a vegetative state, and despite her previously documented wishes and the wishes of her family, she’s on life support because of the 1999 Texas Advance Directives Act, which requires a brain-dead pregnant woman be kept alive until the baby can be delivered. Muñoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed. Her husband, Erick Muñoz, is claiming her doctors didn’t even know about the law. They’re saying there’s nothing they can do. And as expected, it’s turned into a nationwide debate.
Fort Worth Tattoo Artist Tattoos Man For 36 Hours, Misses the World Record. That record is 50 hours, 10 minutes, and Robert “Tat2 Bobby” Doran had planned to beat it with a 55-hour session. He stopped at hour 36 because the client, Darren Curry, fell asleep. Talk about pain tolerance.
Senator Ted Cruz Promises to Renounce Canadian Citizenship. Apparently, it’s a process.Full Story
Five Candidates Vie For City Manager Gig. The candidates are interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez and four other people who have no real hope of landing the job. Mayor Mike Rawlings says a sixth candidate may be added, because, hey, why not? If he were seriously being considered, I’d be pulling for former Cincinnati city manager Milton Dohoney Jr., who reminds me of Perd Hapley, and that would probably be great.
Prime Prep Academy Seems to Be a Tire Fire. Here is the latest, from Brett Shipp and his Oakleys.
Salvation Army’s Red Kettles Are Down More Than $500,000. It’s due to a “perfect storm,” says Major Ward Matthews. Thanksgiving fell late in November, Pete Delkus entombed North Texas in ice, and I’ve been too busy to watch Elf with Tim, thus renewing his belief in the generous spirit of Christmas.Full Story
The thing I cry out for with the DMN’s DISD reporting is context. It’s whistling in the wind. I never get it.
Take today’s story about how 20 percent of DISD teachers left last year. Okay. That’s more than in past years.Full Story
Deion Sanders Fired. Again. For the second time in two months, Deion Sanders has been fired from the charter school he co-founded. WFAA-TV broke the news, which said 75 students walked out in protest of Sanders’ firing. It appears the decision to fire Sanders was made by the Superintendent, with at least the chairman of the board knowing nothing about the decision.
Ticket Seller Doesn’t Deliver. Tabatha and Jess Harris were excited to go to the Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys game. They’re from Hot Springs, South Dakota, and spent $738 on a package that would get them a tailgate and tickets to the game. When they got to the tailgate location, there was nothing there. They didn’t have tickets. The person who sold them their package, Ronni Sokol with Maximum Sports, has done this before.
Dallas Marathon Is Sunday. If you want to be inspired, I recommend you spend some time at the finish line of the Dallas Marathon this Sunday. If you do, you’ll hear a lot of incredible stories, including this one about Brandon Cumby, a 34-year-old who nearly died 16 months ago. Good luck to Brandon and everyone else running. (And fingers crossed that the weather holds.)Full Story