About 100 people who passionately oppose changing the Dallas Independent School District to a home rule district rallied at City Hall Saturday morning. Home rule would change how the district is governed and operated.
If the effort gets 25,000 signatures from DISD voters, Dallas voters could get to decide if DISD becomes the first home rule school district in the state.
Rally organizers say one of the big issues is that not many understand what the change would mean for the district.
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Nobody knows about it," Hector M. Flores, the former national president of LULAC yelled to the crowd. "Do you know about it? I most certainly don't know what their intentions are. They say they're for kids. Do we believe them? Hell no we don't."
The teachers, parents and community leaders at the rally say they are battling to see those behind the home rule movement never get it on a ballot.
"They have some pretty high hurdles but they also have some massive amount of money behind them and if you throw enough money at things you can often get things accomplished," said Hobie Hukill, a teacher and librarian at Samuel High School.
One of the specific goals of the rally was to get people who signed a petition touting Support of Our Public Schools to sign an affidavit saying they want their name off that petition because they didn't know at the time it was in support of a home rule ballot initiative.
"They wanted to help their children in the public school," said Juanita Williams the president of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP. "They had no idea they were talking about recreating a whole new charter and a whole new district so the affidavit's going to help us remove parents' names who do not want to support this effort."
At a joint meeting between DISD board members and Dallas City Council earlier this month, Mayor Rawlings said he's not just behind home rule as mayor but as a Dallas citizen.
"The number one barrier to living in Dallas is the school issue," said Rawlings on April 17. "All of us need to act with a sense of urgency because every year that passes our children will never get it back."
Opponents say home rule would put the district in the mayor's control, not an elected school board. They fear it would be the end of due process for teachers and exempt the district from the state minimum salary for teachers.
"Teachers becoming at-will employees is absolutely unacceptable and that's a possibility," said Rena Honea, the president of Alliance American Federation of Teachers.
Bottom line, home rule opponents say they want the Dallas Independent School District to remain independent.