Fort Worth- The move to make wholesale changes to business as usual in the Fort Worth Independent School District is gaining traction as community leaders expose problems in the district that have hindered Black and Brown education.
The group is on the verge of asking the United States Justice Department Office of Civil Rights to come in and investigate rampant violations and corruptions involving the school board.
“We want a full and complete investigation that will not only bust this board, but also bust this system in the interest of our children,” said Bryan Muhammad, Chairman & Executive Director for the National and Fort Worth/Tarrant County P.O.W.E.R. Organization for Community Outreach, Urban Solutions and Think Tank Institute Inc. “It is time for us to get their attention and do what it takes to hit them in the pocketbook.”
The movement is being headed up by Progressive Concerned Citizens of Fort Worth in Action and the Black, Brown and Tan Caucus of Tarrant County.
The coalition stepped up its reform efforts after the board ousted former popular Superintendent Walter Dansby.
“We continue to stand with him,” Muhammad said. “He tried to do right by our children and our schools and when they got rid of him, they opened up one of the biggest can of worms in the history of Fort Worth education.”
Dansby, who is African-American and homegrown is popular in the community for his years of dedication to the Fort Worth Independent School District as a teacher, coach, principal, administrator and superintendent resigned amidst the board pressure and his contract settled.
He grew up in Stop Six and graduated from Dunbar High School. He has worked in the district for 40 years, and was named interim superintendent after Melody Johnson resigned.
The group now is promoting unity as their strength and tapping freedom fighters, community leaders and citizens in Fort Worth who are tired of their education leaders bullying minority communities. According to them, it is time to stand up for the rights of the people.
Muhammad said the coalition is years in the making and has one mission that is simply to fight on behalf of many concerned citizens of goodwill, students, parents,churches/mosques, business, civic, grassroots, taxpayers and the majority-minority: Black and Brown and Tan Communities.
Now, as that fight takes hold, the group is not only calling for Dansby to be reinstated, but the community is also moving on a new seven point plan of policies and procedures changes that would alter the future course of district operations.
According to Muhammad, some of the vital changes needed to make the school board more user friendly and reflect the voice and the needs of the community.
Some of those changes include:
- Adding Term Limitations for board members. No more than three consecutive terms per board member.
- Restore public comments to all public meetings held by the FWISD Board and instead of a (3) minute speaking time limit increase the time limit to (4) minutes.
- Establish a RECALL process for removing board members that don’t represent their districts nor the board in the best interest of the tax payers and students of the FWISD.
- Change the process to Evaluate and Remove the Superintendent by adding public hearings & comments to this process.
- Any bond voted on by the tax payers, the content of that bond cannot be changed without voter approval and not by the board.
- The Board President must be held accountable for controlling the meetings and holding Board Members accountable with respect to ethics, to citizens, as well as FWISD personnel with the school district.
- Finally no board member must intercede in personnel matters except by protocol set aside by procedures that govern the board.
Muhammad said community groups want the truth revealed about the biases and stereotypes surrounding the STARR Tests and the millions being made to destroy the Black students, Black communities and Black schools.
“We are aware of the testing and the privatization agenda that is designed to fail our children,” he said. “It is no secret now that the plan is to ruin a generation of youth while vendors and friends get rich on taxpayer dollars.”
Other actions planned to get the attention of the board is a series of civil disobedience actions that will involve students and community leaders and activists in possible boycotts and sit-ins at city hall and the board of education offices.
The group continues to meet regular with the community to educate the public and provide an opportunity for the people to engage in dialogue, discuss action plans and pending litigation underway. The petitions of removal of board members is still available for any registered voter to sign, as well as a host of other actions-steps and plans for the community to support.
“We must stand and unite in order that we may ensure that our children have at the very least have a fair opportunity of a education, in order that may become productive citizens,” Muhammad said.“We will not stop until all the gross inequalities, injustices and corruption that continues to plague the FWISD School Board and its members are completely alleviated.”