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
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
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
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
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
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
The briefings used to start at 11:30 a.m. They took, on average, 7 hours. Lately, they’ve started at 4 p.m. — a switch made to better accommodate the trustees’ work days and to encourage more public participation — and have taken around six hours.
But Lew Blackburn and Bernadette Nutall want to go back to the earlier start time. It’s a long day for DISD staff who get there at 8 a.m., and also they are tired of finishing up at 10 p.m.
Board President Eric Cowan wants to stick with the later time, and also believes they can wrap up the whole thing in three to four hours, as other districts do.Full Story
The New York Times Says Dallas is Failing. Again. The week of November 22 is finally upon us. Although Dallas has been in the thick of covering the 50th anniversary for … months, now the rest of the country is chiming in. And according to the Times, Dallas is missing its chance (again) to properly cope […]Full Story
This week, the SAGA Pod gets some new artwork (although when iTunes will switch it, who knows?), a new microphone (which I’m still getting used to; you can tell when I look away to check the Internet while talking), and the same ol’ stammering host you know and love. First, Jim Schutze talks about his […]Full Story
So the District 8 DISD school board race (the vote is tomorrow) is between a pro-Miles candidate, Miguel Solis, and an anti-Miles candidate, Kristi Lara. This is important because there are currently four anti-Miles votes on what will be a nine-person board. (If you think that school board member Elizabeth Jones is pro-Miles just because […]Full Story
This alert is right now posted at the top of SMU’s website: SMU Alert: A suspicious package has been found at the Bush Center site and an investigation is under way. Please avoid the area of Bush Avenue and SMU Boulevard. Moody Coliseum and Crum Basketball Center have been temporarily closed. The Mustang Express route has temporarily changed […]Full Story