The "Doctor" Is In

Page 3 of 8

"Richard is a brilliant and energetic leader; his ability to articulate the concerns of our community and his commitment to children and education make him the best choice for the school board," Holmes is quoted as saying.

The flier also states that Evans has been endorsed by the Classroom Teachers of Dallas, the Alliance of Dallas Educators, the Political Congress of African-American Women, and, surprisingly, the Unified Black Clergy of Greater Dallas.

"It was just a set-up meeting," says B.C. Foreman, Tyler's campaign advisor who attended the forum in his candidate's absence. "They went right out and took a picture. How do you have a camera ready before you know who you're going to endorse?"

Tyler says the first thing she did when she entered the race was to call the ministers, Price, and other black leaders. She says they left her with the clear impression that they were going to give each candidate a fair hearing before making their endorsements.

"I take it that I went through the proper channels," Tyler says. "Had they told me that they had a candidate, I would not have sought this office. But I'm going forward, even more so now."

"I'm not crying," says first-time candidate Lynch, who also claims that the meeting was set up. "But I'm learning every day. I have learned that politics is a wolf...Everybody lies for politics."

Although Nash couldn't be reached for comment, Pastor M. E. Sargent, of the True Love Missionary Baptist Church, says he doesn't think his fellow ministers intentionally rigged the forum to benefit Evans. "I am familiar with Mr. Nash, and I don't see that happening."

He does confirm, however, that the other ministers wanted him to support Evans. "I was asked about my feelings for Mr. Evans. I let the committee know that my support is for Ms. Tyler. My head is on my shoulders."

The NAACP's Alcorn, who attended the forum, says he also doubts that the ministers' forum was intentionally staged on Evans' behalf. During the meeting, however, Evans was asked about his educational background, Alcorn says.

"He acknowledged that he did not have any educational degree; that he had some kind of honorary degree from a facility that is no longer in existence," says Alcorn, who adds that the subject of Evans' high school diploma didn't come up. "I guess it was assumed that he had it."

DISD officials confirm that Evans attended the ninth and 11th grades at Roosevelt High School, but they could find no record that he graduated from that school or any other in DISD. It's possible that the records were lost, says the official, who then adds, "If a person graduated from here, we should have a record of it."

Evans refused to provide any information to the Observer about his educational background, and his campaign literature carefully omits mention of it. It's a subject that Evans has been evading since 1993, when he was profiled in a lengthy, front-page article in The Dallas Morning News.

At the time, Evans told the newspaper that he had received a business administration degree from Penn State University in 1983. The News checked with school officials, who could find no record that Evans had ever attended the institution, much less graduated from it.

If Evans is, in fact, a high school drop-out, certainly the irony found in a July 17, 1998, fund-raising letter must have escaped the four Evans supporters who signed it--including Bank One's Steinhart and former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman. "We believe the choice is clear, and invite you to unite with us in endorsing Richard C. Evans for the Dallas School Board. Richard is a native Dallas resident and a product of its public schools."

During the ministers' forum, Alcorn says, he specifically told Evans that he did not yet have his permission to use his or the Dallas NAACP's name in his campaign material. It was a request that Evans ignored.

"I told him at that time I was still evaluating the people in the race," says Alcorn, who first met Evans during the tumultuous debate over the Townview magnet school.

Alcorn was impressed with Evans during the Townview debate, but says Evans has been in the "background" ever since. Although he doesn't know much about Evans personally, Alcorn says the debate over Evans' educational background is relevant.

"It is important that he be truthful and forthright in whatever credentials he has," Alcorn says. "We have to know who it is we're trying to support and what credentials they have. We need to have people who understand educational issues and who are honest."

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Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley