Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Critics of the Irving Independent School Board want the state to appoint a special monitor to take control of the district.
A group of Irving school district parents and residents are waging a letter-writing campaign to get state intervention at district headquarters.
The critics are upset with change instituted in recent months since May elections put an all-white school board in charge of a district with 71 percent Hispanic students. They are calling on the state to appoint a special monitor to take control of the Irving Independent School District.
Former Superintendent Dana Bedden resigned under pressure and the curriculum he favored was dumped just before the start of a new school year.
School board member Steven Jones, who was critical of Bedden, became the board president.
Now Jones' critics have a growing list of grievances centering on alleged interference in day-to-day school business and changes to Spanish-language instruction.
"Steven Jones is making a lot of bad decisions," said Pedro Portillo, Iglesia Santa Maria de Guadalupe Church pastor. "He's violating the Constitution or Texas Code of Education."
Jones' critics say Spanish instruction for Spanish-speaking students has been slashed.
"That's going to hold them back from reaching their potential, because the program has been cut off at fifth grade, which makes no sense," parent Josie Sanchez said/
Jones declined to comment Wednesday, but other school officials said the changes are all in compliance with state law and have the best interests of students in mind.
"There's a lot of very positive energy in Irving ISD right now," district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver said. "We're moving forward. We're looking to the future."
Marie Mendoza, director of world language Marie, said the instructional model changed to 50-50 Spanish and English instruction instead of the higher percentages of Spanish that previously were in place at some grade levels.
"We have to make sure we are addressing the English language proficiency standards which went into effect in 2007," she said.
Mendoza said parents may not be clear about the changes.
"We are in the process of making sure that the community understands that we are addressing the needs of our students," she said.
Weaver said the former Saginaw-Eagle Mountain superintendent who is the interim administrator has served in similar interim roles four times before.
"He's also putting programs in place that will keep us moving forward, even during this period of transition," she said.
Critics believe the transition is moving backward, and they plan this week to present hundreds of signatures to Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams requesting the appointment of a special monitor for Irving ISD.