Citing progress, Texas Education Agency removes monitor assigned to Dallas ISD – Dallas Morning News (blog)

Citing progress, Texas Education Agency removes monitor assigned to Dallas ISDFor five years, Dallas ISD has had a state monitor reviewing its progress on improving chronically poor schools, the actions of the school board and other issues.

But no more.

Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams, who believes DISD has made academic gains, removed monitor Bobby Parker in March. His oversight included district finances, tutoring known as supplemental education services and academics.

“I would like to caution Dallas ISD that, although am encouraged by the district’s improvement, 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 didn’t mention in the letter what progress he noticed, but agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said Williams saw academic progress.

“When we put in a monitor, once we see them heading in the right direction, we’ll step back. That’s our goal,” Culbertson said.

Parker took over the position in early 2012 from Judy Castleberry, the first monitor TEA assigned to DISD. She came in 2008 to help DISD improve three schools that at the time had been rated academically unacceptable for three straight years. When she left, Dallas ISD had 34 schools with that rating, including five campuses that have been academically unacceptable for three or more years.

For Dallas ISD, Parker’s exit also removes a financial burden. As part of the punishment for having low-performing schools, DISD had to pays a per diem to Parker and covers other expenses. It’s unclear how much Parker earned, but Dallas ISD paid his predecessor $ 80,000 from August 2008 to December 2010.

The district has had monitors for other purposes for years, and they will stay. One keeps watches over Title I funds, federal money to help educate students from low-income families. Another 22 monitors works with principals at Dallas ISD schools rated academically unacceptable for two consecutive years.

Parker, a former Waxahachie ISD superintendent, had been writing monthly reports to Miles and Williams on progress at schools and what he witnessed school board meetings, including times when he thought trustees got too involved in administrative duties. 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.

TEA removes Bobby Parker as monitor in Dallas ISD

Matthew Haag writes about the Dallas Independent School District. Follow @matthewhaag on Twitter, @DallasISD_News on Twitter and the Education Blog on Facebook.

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