The Dallas Independent School District board has much on its plate at today's briefing, the first of the new year: that look-see at the coming year's budget, a report on efforts to close 11 schools to save $11 million, a peek at how that under-construction teacher evaluation system is coming along, further chitchat about proposed grading and class-ranking changes brought about by the looming STAAR test, one last look at the 2012-13 calendar and on and on and on. It begins at 11:30 in the morning; God knows when it'll end. DISD board meetings are like dares; no wonder no one wants to run for the board.
Then again, maybe today's will have a little extra drama. Because in case you haven't heard, earlier this week it was revealed that board president Lew Blackburn was in the running -- barely, as one of 43 candidates -- for the superintendent's gig in East Baton Rouge Parish. He didn't make the cut, just as he wasn't hired to lead DeSoto's ISD when he was up for that job. But as it turns out, East Baton Rouge is using PROACT for its super search -- the same firm DISD hired to find a replacement for Michael Hinojosa.
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This doesn't sit well with Blackburn's longtime nemesis, trustee Carla Ranger, who writes on her blog that this "raises a clear conflict of interest." Writes Ranger, the DISD search "will now have a cloud hanging over it because ... it now appears the Board President is using the Dallas ISD Superintendent search to campaign for a Superintendent position for himself."
That's not all she's unhappy about, though, and her second point is something echoed by other educators and reform-minded observers I've spoken to in recent weeks: The search for a super's taking too damned long.
Blackburn told Unfair Park last month not to worry; everything's cool. But there are plenty of folks watching DISD who believe Blackburn likes not having anyone in the top spot; being board president is almost like being superintendent this way. And Ranger's had it:
The Dallas ISD Superintendent search is being dragged on too long. We need a Superintendent -- not a Board President seeking to land a Superintendent position for himself at the same time with a school district represented by the same search firm ...
It shouldn't take a year to find a Superintendent for Dallas ISD. One of the search firms interviewed last September stated they would have a list of candidates for the board to consider in January 2012. That firm was not chosen. The Dallas ISD Superintendent search will continue to be tainted by the the Board President's conflict of interest and current campaign to obtain a Superintendent's position for himself.
And the compromising of Dallas ISD will continue.