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.
The plaintiffs in Cruz v. Abbott argued that the anti-harboring provision of HB 11 improperly targets illegal alien shelters and individuals who rent to them, but the 5th Circuit dismissed the case and adopted the position the State argued in district court: “Because there is no reasonable interpretation by which merely renting housing or providing social services to an illegal alien constitutes ‘harboring … that person from detection,’ we reverse the injunction.”
HB 11 was passed in 2015, and its harboring provisions are part of an $800 million border security effort.
Attorney General Paxton said this in response to the decision: “Today’s ruling by the 5th Circuit will allow the state to fight the smuggling of humans and illegal contraband by transnational gangs and perpetrators of organized crime, not just on the border, but throughout Texas.”
(AP) – A collection of Democratic state senators has proposed legislation prohibiting police from enforcing federal immigration laws in hospitals, schools, churches, courthouses and colleges and universities across Texas.
Houston Sen. Sylvia Garcia announced her “safe zones” bill last Wednesday flanked by co-sponsors. She said such places “are supposed to be safe for everyone.”
The proposal follows authorities recently detaining on immigration charges a woman who was at an El Paso courthouse seeking a protective order against her allegedly abusive boyfriend.
The Texas Senate already has approved a bill banning “sanctuary cities,” which calls for criminal charges against law enforcement officials who refuse to help federal authorities deport immigrants in the country illegally.
The measure must still clear the Texas House, where the provision seeking criminal charges for non-compliant officials may not survive.