Monday, December 28, 2009

Report: Community prefers bilingual superintendent

Katherine Leal Unmuth/Reporter|Dallas Morning Star / Irving Blog
Wed, Dec 02, 2009

Irving ISD trustees got an update from TASB consultants last night sharing the findings of the responses from 731 people online and 288 at recent community forums on the superintendent search. Among the desires they want in the next leader: a Spanish speaker, with experience in a demographically similar school district, someone approachable who is also a good public speaker.

Community members also shared concerns they wanted the new leader to tackle, including a lack of diversity at the administrative level, the increasing number of limited English proficient students, lack of parent involvement and high dropout rate.

In discussions last night trustees also expressed that they want the next leader to understand and embrace technology (a major pillar of the district because of the laptop/netbook program), to understand the district is majority-minority (and mostly Hispanic) and to know they must live within the boundaries of the district.

Consultant Benjamin Canada told the board that initially people felt disillusioned and thought the decision on the new leader was already made (Neil Dugger is acting superintendent and has called former longtime leader Jack Singley someone he's looked up to in his career.

"There was a sense initially that the decision had already been made and this was a joke," Canada told the board. "Each of you said it is not a joke."

He also said staff and others were reluctant to say it was time for a change, for fear they'd be viewed as criticizing the legacy of Singley.

But then, "They realized that to honor that person would be to build on that foundation and just accept the status quo," he said.

He said forums started with few attendees, and even none at one forum, but built over time. One student suggested they should have been held at a neighborhood center where families feltl more comfortable than in a school. Community activist Anthony Bond also expressed concerns about community input to the board, and the level of outreach to diverse communities.

"I believe they have not gotten a response in our community," he said. "With seven out of ten kids being Hispanic they really should have focused to make a genuine effort with Hispanics."

What do you think?

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