Around the State
Special to The Dallas Examiner | 3/6/2017, 11:11 a.m.
Special to The Dallas Examiner
Dallas Independent School District trustees unanimously approved a policy change on Feb. 23 that will bring a new approach to how schools respond to disruptive students in pre-K through second-grade.
Under the policy change and pending approval to the student code of conduct, students in pre-K through second-grade who commit Level 1 offenses – which are the lowest-level infractions such as classroom disruption and bus misconduct – will not receive out-of-school suspensions.
The new approach will also provide additional support to schools. All pre-K through second-grade teachers will receive a comprehensive training session at the beginning of the school year focused on how to best respond to a disruptive student.
The district will now also look at data to determine which elementary schools need the most support in responding to disruptive students. Those schools will implement a program such as mindfulness training or restorative practices, which are shown to reduce disciplinary issues, and teachers at those schools will receive continual resources and training throughout the school year.
Under the policy change, students in pre-K through second-grade could still be suspended for Level 2 and Level 3 offenses, which are the more serious infractions such as bullying and fighting.
The policy change goes into effect at the beginning of next school year.
Representative Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, recently filed House Bill 2282, a bill that would fund high-quality, full-day pre-K for qualifying school districts through the existing school finance formula. In order to be eligible for the funding, pre-K programs must serve economically disadvantaged children and adopt national best practices for improving educational outcomes.
“There is no doubt that full-day pre-K works,” said Rep. Johnson. “It is just a matter of when Texas will stop dragging its feet and commit to doing what is right for the children of this state. Our state leaders need to stop playing politics with our most vulnerable children and fully fund a high-quality, full-day, formula-funded pre-K program now.”
He also filed House Bill 2480, a bill to combat the involuntary displacement of residents in rapidly gentrifying areas of West Dallas. The bill utilizes revenue from Tax Increment Financing zones, which are tools used to encourage economic development in certain areas. The bill sets aside 20 percent of TIF funds for affordable housing, property tax relief and proportional infrastructure spending to ensure long-term affordability and equitable redevelopment.
“I’m pleased to be working with Dallas City Council Housing Committee Chairman Scott Griggs on this important piece of legislation,” Johnson said. “Economic development brings new challenges and opportunities for any community. The Sports Arena TIF provides millions of dollars in subsidies to the new developments in West Dallas. Some of that money should be going towards helping folks stay in the neighborhood they helped build. I’m all for new neighbors moving into West Dallas, but I will fight the involuntary displacement of longtime West Dallas residents with everything I have, from Austin to Dallas City Hall.”
(AP) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds a 2015 state law criminalizing the harboring of illegal aliens. A group of open border advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 11, which added criminal penalties against those who traffic humans and smuggle immigrants into the U.S. illegally for money. Last April, a district judge blocked Texas from enforcing the law.