On Thursday, August 13 at 12:08 pm, an astonishing event occurred in Dallas. While not an earthquake, it should have shaken the Dallas residents from their slumber concerning the state of affairs at DISD. Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman took the microphone to address her fellow board members during the public forum portion of the agenda. This kind of action has never been taken before, at least not in the last 10 years, to my knowledge.
The only public report appeared in the “Talk Live” online section of the Dallas Morning News: a single entry by Tawnell Hobbs, accompanied by a picture of Trustee Foreman at the microphone, with the text: “DISD Trustee Joyce Foreman @ mic taking 2 fellow trustees to task for alleged unfair policy changes.”
Trustee Foreman took the unprecedented step of publicly speaking to her own board as a citizen to say words which need to be heard by more than just the small audience present that day. Here are her words, transcribed from the DISD video, beginning at time stamp 9:31 (for the public forum section):
“President Cowan and board, I am taking this position here because I don’t want attorney Jack Elrod to jump up and tell me I’m out of order and I’m speaking against something that’s not on the agenda.
I’ve been on this board for a year and came with an openness to work with the board. I have watched with agony the way it operates. I have knowledge of working with boards and commissions, having served on over 30 boards and commissions.
Today, I am struggling with numerous policy changes that trustee Mike Morath is presenting. We must remember this trustee lobbied for Home Rule Charter District and made it known that he wanted the power taken away from many of the duly elected board members. He’s also made it known that he doesn’t want items pulled from the consent agenda for discussion and a separate vote, (to) which we should have a right. Maybe others in here have the same concern, because you voted 7 to 2 for a new BE Local. It now limits my constituents’ voice, and others who want to speak to different issues. It even allows for the briefing agenda and the board agenda to be done on the same day, so that actually puts everything on the consent agenda and the board meeting is 2 weeks later.
President Cowan, YOU, and you alone, gave the power to this trustee by appointing him as chair of policy, which is a committee of one. He has the power of changing, rewriting, and presenting to the board with no oversight, no review and no objectivity, policies that he wishes to see changed. Other trustees can present policy changes, but they go through a process, and you are the one who makes that decision.
This is not fair to the rest of us, because all of us do not have the same ideology about education.
As a duly elected part of this body, I, along with others, had to sue former president trustee Solis to have our voices heard, and it looks like we’re back in the same position. But along with that, it’s time for somebody to take a deeper look at the operations of this board. Open dialogue never hurt any entity. It gives the public more trust because of transparency and it allows trustees to bind to the decisions that are being made.
Later today, at least 6 trustees, or more, will probably vote to put a $1.6 billion dollar bond on the November ballot.
I say, if you do not want to have an open dialogue about what you’re doing with the money that you have and tell the public how it’s benefiting the children, why should the public vote to give you more money?
I am here for the students and want to be accountable, along with wanting the board to be accountable. Agendas and priorities are set without all of the board members knowing what has transpired. I would not be surprised * if the Open Meetings Act is not being violated by walking quorums.
As I often remind the trustees, I came here with a good reputation in the community; I plan to leave with a good reputation.”
* Trustee Foreman’s time was up at this point, and she was cut off. Attorney Jack Elrod jumped in to insist that her time was up. President Cowan could have given her time to finish, but made no move to do so. It is unclear whether Trustee Foreman was able to complete all of her remarks, or ended at this point with some left unsaid.