Property Tax Refunds, Anyone?

If you live in Dallas, it seems like these people are the ones spending your property taxes.

If I lived in the boundaries of the Dallas Independent School District, I would start looking into ways to get my property taxes refunded to me — at least the part that goes to fund the local school district. It’s not like the low performance of the school district is anything new, but now the district has apparently turned into a place where teachers are punished for making their schools a better place.
It wasn’t enough that Joseph Drake got briefly suspended for allegations of “misconduct” after emailing a district trustee about some comments that trustee made about the length of the teacher workday. The trustee implied that teachers were not giving their schools a full work day, and Mr. Drake took exception in an email. The next day, he found himself suspended. A few days later, the community and union pressure got Mr. Drake back into his classroom.

(Special note: if a teachers’ union can sway district decision making in TEXAS, you know that the union had a case more ironclad than the Monitor and the Merrimac)

Now, DISD has suspended another teacher: this time, it is Elliot Monteverde-Torres, a teacher at Botello Elementary School in Oak Cliff. He sent Superintendent Alan King and the TEA a 12-page letter detailing a list of allegations against his principal, Angel McKoy. According to the list, the principal overlooked students bringing (and sharing) prescription drugs, and a student who brought a BB gun to school and shot another student. Because nothing happened, the student brought the BB gun again another day. Other allegations include the misuse of federal funds (which is not a new allegation in Dallas).

The state has ordered the district to investigate Mr. Monteverde-Torres’ claims. According to a letter from the TEA, the teacher’s letter raises “serious questions regarding the school administration at Botello Elementary.”

This might seem obvious to you and me, but this is the same TEA that refuses to investigate claims of testing score irregularities at districts throughout the state, including 17 districts in North Texas alone. The agency recommends that districts investigate these issues, but does not mandate any scrutiny.

Because it’s testing season, here’s a question for you:

Upon receiving a letter from a teacher about alleged misconduct by a principal, DISD administration first:

A) announced an investigation of the principal and the campus

B) placed the principal on paid leave pending the results of the investigation
C) revisited the issue of the student with a BB gun and prepared a press release
D) suspended the teacher who filed the complaint and accused him of unspecified “misconduct”

Yes, the answer is D.

Joseph Drake was lucky enough to be a member of the American Federation of Teachers. If Mr. Monteverde-Torres is not, it’s up to those of us who believe in the open sharing of information as a way of improving organizational culture to stand up for him. Superintendent King’s office number is (972) 925-3700. The Human Resources department number is (972) 925-4200.

If it turns out that Mr. Monteverde-Torres was sending in fraudulent allegations, then he should be fired. Not suspended, but let go. De-certified. Banished from the profession. However, if what he says turns out to be true, then the same thing should happen to his principal.

And to everyone who signed off on his suspension. The district should take the time to figure out what happened before threatening anyone’s livelihood.


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