State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) says it's time for Dallas County Schools Superintendent Rick Sorrells to step down but doesn't support a bill filed by State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) calling for the agency's dismantling.
In Austin Tuesday, Huffines filed a bill to bring an end to the 171-year-old intermediate educational agency by September 2018. He called DCS an outdated, unnecessary bureaucracy that is dangerous for students and a rip off for Dallas County taxpayers.
Citing concerns about dangerous driving and financial mismanagement, Huffines and State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Dallas) introduced a bill that would hand over DCS to a committee to pay off existing debt and shut it down.
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“Students deserve better and so do Dallas County taxpayers,” said Huffines.
West believes DCS should survive but adds that a change in leadership is necessary because confidence in Sorrells has dropped.
"I understand his frustration [Huffines] and I agree with him. But I don't necessarily believe at this point in time that we need to do away with the agency,” said West. "All of this happened under his [Sorrells] watch. You need to have a change in leadership because … there's not any confidence at this point in time.”
At a news conference in Dallas Tuesday reacting to the bill, Sorrells said he met with West last week to discuss the future of DCS and planned to meet with him again next week to continue that conversation.
He added that he's working with the DCS board on solutions to a $39 million budget shortfall and insists that no agency money is missing.
"So the board will take it up at their next meeting and we'll be fine. We'll be moving forward doing what we do in the future for kids in the future," Sorrells said.
Several DCS bus drivers appeared with Sorrells at the news conference, some suggesting politicians should leave DCS alone.
“I don't know what Mr. Huffines is trying to do but I just need my job. I feel like everything is fine. We just have a few problems here and there but we can all get over it”, said bus driver Ricky Walker.
Now, pressure on Sorrells is coming from both sides of the aisle.
"He's the head of it. He's responsible for it, whether he did it or not, it happened on his watch and I think one of the first steps that should be taken is we need to change the leadership," West said.
West said Tuesday he's concerned about who would step in to transport the 70,000 students driven to and from school each day by DCS -- and that's why he wants to fix it instead of abolishing it. Huffines believes within the next 18 months, suitable solutions can be found to replace DCS.