Longform

The "Doctor" Is In

Page 6 of 8

So Evans says he is working out of the home, but which home? On his school board application, Evans says he lives at his childhood home, which is in DISD's District 5. But the phone number that Evans lists on the application belongs to a Sean Franklin, and traces back to an apartment complex in Irving.

When the Observer first reached Evans, he answered the phone at that apartment complex.

"The number that you are talking with me on is not my number. That's a number that I use," said Evans, who was reluctant to discuss who Sean Franklin is. "If you must know, Mr. Franklin is a business associate."

Wherever Evans puts his head down to sleep at night, and whatever his credentials, Dallas County voter registration records show that he has lived and voted in District 5 consistently since 1992.

Unlike Evans, the other three candidates had no problem making their resumes public--no matter how flimsy they appear.

Jerry Parks fidgets at a long conference table inside the Observer's downtown office. The slender Mississippi native wears a tan suit coat and dark slacks, his brown eyes dancing with enthusiasm behind silver-rimmed glasses as he explains why he is the only qualified candidate for the job.

"I am the technology candidate in this race. No doubt about it," he offers. "You can't do any better than this."

Parks has come to the interview prepared. His large backpack is stuffed with recent issues of such magazines as Current Technology and Business Week. It also contains a stack of campaign fliers, which are hot off the presses of his home computer and emphasize his educational background.

"Jerry Parks, B.S. Experienced & Educated," states the two-sided brochure, which Parks has recently updated in light of the questions surrounding Evans' educational background.

The first fact Parks includes on the flier is that he holds a bachelor's degree with a major in biology from the State University of New York--or SUNY, as it is known to students at the institution's Albany campus Parks says he attended.

Parks does indeed hold a bachelor's degree, but not from SUNY. Officials with SUNY in Albany searched for Parks' records using his social security number, but could find no record that he graduated. They suggested Parks might have attended the University of the State of New York, which is located a few blocks up the street.

In truth, few people physically attend the University of the State of New York, which is now known as Regents College and billed as "America's First Virtual University."

Regents College is an accredited school, but the virtual college (85 percent of its students live outside the state of New York) is in no way affiliated with SUNY. An official at Regents confirmed that on January 14, 1994, Parks graduated with a bachelor's degree in "liberal studies" after completing two years of "virtual" or correspondence courses.

On his resume, Parks also says he is currently taking graduate-level courses in counseling and religion at Liberty University, a private, church-affiliated school in Lynchburg, Virginia. Officials at Liberty confirm that Parks enrolled there during the winter 1994 semester, and he last took classes during the spring 1997 semester. "He skipped a couple of semesters. He was in our external degree program where they take classes by video," says a woman in the registrar's office. She adds that Parks is not currently enrolled as a student.

Unlike the other candidates, Parks has actually run for public office. In 1990, before he relocated to Dallas, he lived in Mississippi and ran for Congress. Parks was the Republican nominee for the 4th Congressional District largely because no one else wanted to run.

"Republicans weren't ready to challenge [the Democrats], so nobody got into the race," says a Republican Party spokesman. "This Jerry Parks filed at the last minute to get in. He ran unopposed in the primary and received the nomination," says the spokesman, adding that Parks was a conservative Democrat who became a Republican. "He was sort of a gadfly."

In the general election, Parks was humiliated, garnering about 20 percent of the vote. But he says the experience taught him a thing or two about politics and changed his approach to this campaign. "I'm not driving from the backseat," he says. "I have a plan. I know it'll work. I have a vision."

If he were elected trustee, Parks says, his priority would be to bring more computers into DISD classrooms. And he means that he personally will bring the computers. "I have a source that sends me computers for free. All I have to pay is the shipping fee."

On his application for school board candidacy, Parks lists his profession as "minister," but he claims his real job is running his own computer consulting company--a company located in his home.

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Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley