How East Dallas Can Create Its Own ISD

An alert, education-minded FrontBurnervian points us to the Advocate, where there is discussion of a movement afoot to launch a new ISD in East Dallas. Actually, there are two movements. Some folks who support Woodrow Wilson High School are looking into seceding from DISD, and former state representative Allen Vaught has fired up a Facebook page to see how many people are interested in forming a White Rock ISD.

You can read the state education code for yourself (scroll down to “Subchapter C, Creation of District by Detachment”), but here’s the part that presents the biggest hurdle:

(c) An election on the detachment of the territory and creation of a new district has no effect unless at least 25 percent of the registered voters of each district vote in the election in which the issue is on the ballot.

(d) The boards of trustees shall report the results of the election to the appropriate commissioners courts, which shall declare the results of the election. The new school district is created only if the proposition receives:

(1) a majority of the votes in the territory to be detached; and

(2) a majority of the votes in the remaining territory in each district from which property is to be detached in the manner prescribed by Section 13.003.

You follow? That means 25 percent of the registered voters in the new White Rock ISD would have to turn out, and they’d have to pass the measure with more than 50 percent of the votes. That’s doable. Maybe. BUT the residents of the remaining Dallas ISD would also have to turn out and vote along the same lines, which sounds impossible. Except, hang on.

What if East Dallas could get two large voting blocs to support this movement? I’m thinking about North Dallas and South Dallas. Black enrollment is down in DISD. East Dallas says, “Hey, South Dallas, you can do this, too. All you have to do is turn out and vote for us. We’ll vote for you.” And then East Dallas tells North Dallas the same thing.

Hmm. Except if this plan worked, and if the elections were going to happen sequentially, then East Dallas ISD wouldn’t be in DISD, and so it couldn’t support South Dallas ISD’s secession. If the elections happened simultaneously, the three new districts couldn’t vote for each other that way either because they’d each need 25 percent turnout from the remaining DISD.

So I take it back. The three-pronged approach won’t work. The only way to make this happen is to change the state education code, argue that 25 percent turnout is an unreasonable standard.

OR, hang on a second here. Whoa, this is blowing my mind. There’s one more way to do this, and it’s crazy enough that it just might work. Check out “Subchapter E, Abolition of Independent School District”:

Sec. 13.202. PETITION. Abolition of an independent school district is initiated by a petition requesting an election on the question. The petition must be signed by a majority of the board of trustees of the district to be abolished and must be presented to the county judge of each county in which part of the independent school district is situated.

(a) Each county judge receiving a valid petition shall:

(1) issue an order for an election to be held on the same day in each county; and

(2) give notice of the election.

(b) The ballot in the election shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: “Abolition of the ___________ Independent School District.”

Sec. 13.204. ORDER ABOLISHING DISTRICT. (a) The commissioners court of each county shall canvass the returns of the election in its county.

(b) If a majority of the total votes cast in the district favor abolishing the district, each commissioners court shall declare the results. The abolition is effective only if all territory of the district is annexed to other contiguous districts.

Two hurdles here. First one is getting five of the nine DISD trustees to vote to abolish the district. Why would they want to do that? Simple: cash. They’ll need to be paid off. I’m guessing Carla Ranger’s price is in the high three figures.

Second hurdle is the deal about getting all of DISD annexed to other contiguous districts. Don’t even start looking around the periphery of DISD to see which other districts would absorb which schools. No, look to the center. We see you, little Highland Park ISD! So if HPISD will take us, this deal is done. Let’s make it happen.

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