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DISD Home Rule Debate Heats Up

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees heard presentations from the two groups of people on the forefront of the home rule debate, Thursday night. 'Support Our Public Schools' and 'Our Community, Our Schools' each had ten minutes to address the board, with a packed crowd listening in.

Earlier in the day, the board formally verified the petition to create a home rule charter, was valid. Out of the 49,000 signatures collected, nearly half were thrown out; but the petition still met the required 24,650 needed to force the board to appoint a charter commission.

Opponents of home rule have raised questions as to how Support Our Public Schools collected the signatures that put the board in this position, but at the public meeting, the board's attorney said that the only task the board faced was to make sure the signatures were real -- not to investigate the method of collection.

Dr. Harryette Ehrhardt spoke on behalf of the opposition group, Our Community, Our Schools.

"We urge this board and the entire DISD community to beware of the Trojan horse that is only phase one. That would ultimately make DISD a target for those who look at our pupils and see dollar signs," said Ehrhardt.

The treasurer of Support Our Public Schools, Jeronimo Valdez, spoke in favor of the charter.

"Why should we be subject to the same rules that Highland Park is? Or Big Spring? You all have the ability to create a new constitution. I believe we should do it," Valdez said.

After the presentations, the board broke away from the discussion on home rule, to address separate items already scheduled for the regular agenda.

While a passionate group for and against home rule attended the meeting, many DISD families are still in the dark on the concept.

At Exall Park, just three blocks away, parents and kids on the playground and bike paths, weren't aware of the discussion happening Thursday night.

Rich Smith says he didn't know where the meeting was, though he'd heard about it.

"My child is in 1st grade this year. She's getting a great education at Lee Elementary School.  I don't see what needs to be changed," said Smith.

Jenene Edwards also has a child in DISD.

"I haven't heard of home rule, which I guess is not good, because I have a daughter," said Edwards.

The DISD Board of Trustees is expected to address the issue of forming a charter committee late Thursday evening.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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