During the two-hour forum, which was moderated by Channel 11 education reporter Steve Pickett, candidates fielded questions created by the DHSAA. No questions from the audience were allowed, which solicited good-natured boos from the crowd of about 50.
All of the candidates agreed that there were major issues to fix about the DISD. Those included regaining the public’s trust in the Board of Trustees, eliminating waste, finding the best teachers for the right positions, and being willing to make difficult and unpopular decisions for the good of the students.
School closings were one example of unpopular decisions and one that hits home for East Dallas residents who’ve seen the end of Bonham Elementary.
District 3 candidate Dan Micciche (pronounced mich-kay) is running against incumbent Bruce Parrott and supported both closures and firing poor-performing teachers. Micciche is an attorney and East Dallas resident for 26 years.
Micciche stressed, however, that there needs to be clear guidelines for why each is necessary. He also emphasized the critical role of creating an excellent Human Resource department that can recruit the best teachers and reduce the need to fire bad ones.
“A poor teacher in a classroom is devastating,” he said. “Plus, if you get the right people in the right jobs you don’t waste money.”
District 3 includes schools east of White Rock Lake and several north of Northwest Highway. Parrott could not attend the forum due to an unavoidable family conflict that required him to be in Houston.
While not present, Parrott’s statement was read to the audience and included a desire to reduce unnecessary student testing.
District 2 includes schools west of the lake and three in Preston Hollow. Mike Morath is the trustee for that district and is running unopposed.
All candidates voiced a passion for elevating DISD to excellence. Several had fond memories of their own DISD high school alma maters and wished to see a resurgence of community residents sending their children to their community schools.
They also agreed that one solution to restoring trust in the board was open, accessible contact and communication with the residents they represent. But they stressed the crucial factor of parental and private business involvement. All citizens were urged to get involved with their community schools, even if they no longer had children there.
“Everyone has something to contribute – a skill, mentoring – something. We are all paying taxes to support these schools and the kids that come out of them are our future,” said District 1 candidate Michael Greenberg.
Micki Rawlings, wife of Mayor Mike Rawlings and a Woodrow Wilson alumna, offered the forum’s opening remarks and praised the creation last year of the DHSAA. Its purpose is to gather all alumni from Dallas high schools together for the common purpose of supporting and improving education in the DISD.
Rawlings said less than two percent of voters participate in school board elections. She urged everyone to become informed and vote. Early voting is through May 8. Election day is May 12.
For more information on the candidates vying for District 3, go to whiterocklakeweekly.com.