Citing academic gains, Education Commissioner Williams removes monitor in … – Dallas Morning News

Citing academic gains, Education Commissioner Williams removes monitor inFor five years, a state monitor has reviewed Dallas ISD’s progress on improving chronically struggling schools, actions of the school board and other issues.

But no more.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams removed monitor Bobby Parker from those duties in March. It ends oversight that included district finances, tutoring and academics.

“I would like to caution Dallas ISD that, although I am encouraged by the district’s improvement, I am concerned about the continuing academic issues facing the district,” he wrote in a letter to Superintendent Mike Miles and board President Lew Blackburn.

Williams’ letter, released Friday, didn’t offer specifics, but agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson cited academic gains.

“When we put in a monitor, once we see them heading in the right direction, we’ll step back,” she said.

Parker took over the position in early 2012 from Judy Castleberry. TEA assigned her to the DISD in 2008 to improve three schools that had been rated academically unacceptable for three straight years. When she left, 34 schools had that rating, including five for three or more years.

Parker’s removal saves the school district money. DISD paid the monitors $ 75 an hour plus expenses. It was unclear Friday how much Parker received, but Dallas ISD paid his predecessor $ 80,000.

The district has had monitors for other purposes for years, and they will stay. One keeps watch over federal money that helps educate students from low-income families. Another 22 state monitors work with principals at Dallas ISD schools rated academically unacceptable for two consecutive years.

Parker, a former Waxahachie ISD superintendent, wrote monthly reports to Miles and Williams on progress at schools and what he witnessed at school board meetings. In October, those reports became quarterly.

While the monitor always wielded some influence in Dallas ISD, documents show that Parker angled for greater control a year ago. Soon after trustees named Miles the lone superintendent finalist, Parker asked then TEA Commissioner Robert Scott to elevate his status to conservator.

In that position, which was not approved, he would have had power to overrule decisions by the school board and then-interim superintendent Alan King.

Follow Matthew Haag on Twitter at @matthewhaag.

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