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DISD Board To Hear Arguments For & Against Home Rule

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Another group of citizens concerned for the future of the Dallas Independent School District has joined the discussion on creating a Home Rule Charter.

Wednesday, a group of parents and community members in DISD gave the Board of Trustees a 7-page draft of a charter written up by the group in the last few weeks.

Dallas attorney and DISD parent Mark Melton says his group is neither for nor against Home Rule. Melton says he sees it as an inevitability, and is proposing what he says is a non-controversial solution.

The "Accountability Charter" as the group calls it, would leave the nine single districts of DISD intact.

The charter includes three new proposals:

  • Instead of the state, allow the Board of Trustees to set the first day of school
  • Give voters, in a single district, the right to remove their trustee
  • Impose three, three-year terms on trustees

"The reality is, the petition has been turned in [for a home rule charter] and we are forced to have the discussion about what the charter would say," said Melton.

Melton says this group does not align with 'Support Our Public Schools' or 'Our Community, Our Schools,' but he's reaching out to both sides in hope of bringing together some of the divisions that have arisen.

A Home Rule Charter Commission has one year to create a draft of a charter.  Supporters say they want a charter up for vote on the November election ballot.  Opponents say that's too quick a timeline.

The costs are already adding up for DISD, and taxpayers.

A spokesperson for DISD says since last Friday, the district is paying for up to 30 temporary workers a day, to count and verify signatures on the home rule petition.

On Monday, the Board of Trustees voted to hire an attorney to guide the board through this process -- at a cost not to exceed $250,000.

The Dallas County Board of Elections estimates the cost to the school district to add Home Rule Charter to the November election ballot could be $800,000.

"If they're placing this on the school district to pay for this, then it could be extremely costly. Not only for a November election, but any subsequent election that would come after that," said Eric Cedillo, another attorney and DISD parent who helped draft the "Accountability Charter."

The Board of Trustees will meet to discuss several issues related to Home Rule on Thursday. And for the first time, they'll hear directly from people in the community with opinions on both sides of the issue.

(©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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