Ex-State Rep. Allen Vaught Says DISD Is Too Big, So He's Pushing for White Rock to Secede

Former state Representative Allen Vaught doesn't want to create a White Rock ISD, per se. He just thinks Dallas ISD is too big, too unwieldy to function effectively. The Whiterock ISD Facebook page he put up on Saturday was a way of "planting a flag where people can rally to talk about it."

And they are talking about it. Six hundred likes in five days and a fast-expanding stream of media coverage. Clearly, he's not alone in his opinion.

See also: Allen Vaught Wants to Plant Grassroots Movement That'll Save DISD's Teachers

Vaught traces the idea to his time in the Texas Legislature, where he pushed hard for increased education funding. When he explained this to his constituents, they would wonder why he thought it wise to funnel more cash to DISD, where it would be squandered. They would inevitably bring up the administration's scandal du jour or else mention that students at Woodrow were being forced to sit on the floor for lack of desks. Even after being unseated by Republican Kenneth Sheets in the 2010 election, the complaints didn't let up.

"The stream of people who still come to me for some reason to talk about it seems to be not getting better," he says. "You seem to have a district that's too big, that can't really take care of the local control issues."

The hurdle for an area to secede from DISD, or for a wholesale breakup of the district, is high. Under state law, any new district that splits off would have to have 8,000 students and cover at least nine square miles, which is easy enough. So is getting 10 percent of registered voters in that area to sign a petition.

See also: Sick of Waiting on DISD, Lakewood Elementary Parents Are Raising $15 Million for Expansion

The difficulty arises from the requirement that a majority of voters in both the splinter group and the rest of the district approve of the measure, and that they do so with at least 25 percent of their registered voters turning out.

Things aren't nearly at that point yet. For one thing, a decision would have to be made about the boundaries of a possible new district. Vaught has no idea what those should be other than that they should enclose an economically and ethnically diverse population and not a wealthy enclave.

He's not even sure that secession is the way to go. He's also open to an idea floated by DISD trustee Mike Morath to create a semi-independent charter district that allows communities to make more decisions locally while remaining part of DISD.

Those decisions are for another day. For now, Vaught is busy handling the flood of feedback he's received so far. He's likely to receive more. At 2,000 Facebook likes, he says he'll host a public meeting.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson