Dear Alan, Dear Shirley

Alan King is Interim Superintendent of DISD. Shirley Ison-Newsome is, well, Shirley.

This commentary is about a 2 sentence email sent by Alan King to Shirley Ison-Newsome--emails that are the subject of another investigative report on WFAA Channel 8 tonight.

After the story broke, in February, about DISD's questionable use of over $57,000 (much of it Federal funds) to take 5th grade boys to see a Hollywood action film, the emails started flying.

Let's back up. There were a ton of emails leading up to the "outing" on February 9, but we're interested in this one:

That doesn't make sense yet, does it? It will in a moment.

Actually, let's let that simmer and go back to Shirley.

Shirley Ison-Newsome has been described, by some, as brilliant but stubborn. She puts the kids first but when she gets her mind made up about doing something, there's little chance of changing it. She believes in spending lots of money on the kids even if she makes mistakes, sometimes, along the way. Could this be close?

I am wonder if the answer is even simpler.

Maybe Shirley just never met a dollar she didn't like to spend.

Back during the DISD procurement card scandal (the database is still online, but you'll have to log in), Shirley was found to have spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on her two cards.

She bought things like art, gift cards, trinkets, novelties, food, clothing, groceries, took trips--and much more. She was queen of the giveaways and "incentives."

$57,000 is nothing, you see because there is plenty more where that came from. Am I on the right track?

Throughout all the emails leading up to the Red Tails outing, Shirley asked "can we" do it. I never once saw her once ask "should we" do it.

Before we get back to Alan's little tagline, let's put things back into perspective:

  • Shirley Ison-Newsome spent $57,000 to take a bunch of 5th grade boys to see an action movie
  • She excluded all the girls from the outing
  • Title I funds were used (for which the District is now under Federal and State investigation)

Why these words from Alan?

It's because Shirley wrote an email that talked about how "distressed" she was when she found out that one school "canceled the trip because of all of the hulabalu (sp?) in the press."

So that was Alan's response.

Alan wasn't concerned with the decision.

Alan was only concerned about the criticism.

This, folks, is our senior DISD leadership.

Update: new video on WFAA

DISD administrator accused of new policy violations

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 7:16 PM

The DISD administrator at the center of the Red Tails movie controversy has been found in violation of a new policy. News Eight has now learned that Ison-Newsome has also violated district policy by authorizing a staff trip to a bowling alley.

teacher/bus drivers

This Ison-Newsome is all over the TV and the blogs. Sounds like she is a wolf wearing sheeps clothing. Fish rots from the head down, smells like this fish is done. Someone tell me or respond if you like Ison are you the head of the snake behind chopping teacher bus drivers from their job. Since you love spending money so much what do you care? Don't knock the work ethic of one trying to provide the right way. It's people like you that make me sick. You are the Sheila Jackson Lee of DISD,

S.I.N.

Teacher/bus driver - you've got that right about Ms. Shirley. I'm a former teacher and dealt with her back in the 80s when she was climbing her way to the top. She was a dean of students then and she was such a bully. I don't think anything has changed, except for the worse.

A teacher/bus driver explained to me at the end of school how it really helps to have teachers as bus drivers. They know the kids and can often intercede when problems begin on the bus. She was able to stop several fights before they even got started. S.I.N. doesn't like teachers. Don't know why but her hate is very obvious. No wonder people are afraid of her. I was afraid - and that was almost 30 years ago. Hopefully, the new superintendent will realize what a detriment she is to this school district. Was she ever held accountable for all of her Wal-mart $1,000 gift cards she purchased back in 2005? I doubt it.

Charging for Cheerleader/Drill Team Tryouts

I have heard that at W.T. White High School, the cheerleader and drill team sponsors are charging students $5 each to try out for cheerleader or drill team. This sounds rather strange for a school that is 65% economically disadvantaged. When asked why this was being done, I was told it was to pay the judges; however, the cheerleader judges were two teachers from the school (both with no prior cheerleader experience), and a "friend" of the cheer sponsor. I would be interested in knowing how this money was collected, were receipts given to the students and the money turned in to the school financial clerk and the judges given a district check or did the money just change hands from the sponsor to the judges. In either case, I think this is ridiculous and should be checked out. What is next? Will those trying out for the Show Choir or the athletic teams or student council have to pay a fee to try out for these also? Also, is this a common practice for DISD schools?

[Ed Note: Please email us the particulars--names, dates, anything else.]

Money was not turned in

I have solidly confirmed that the cheer sponsor at W.T. White, DID NOT, turn in to the financial clerk any of the money she collected from those forced to pay the fee for trying out for cheerleader. I also confirmed that this was not an approved fund raiser and none of the guidelines for collecting money from students was followed. IN THE PAST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN FIRED OR SEVERELY DISCIPLINED FOR IMPROPER HANDLING OF SCHOOL FUNDS. Why has the sponsor not been held accountable for her improper actions of not turning in this money? Has this happened before? What about the money she charged the students for attending the pep rallies? Was this money turned in or did she just keep it to spend as she wished, like she was intending on doing with the tryout money? I hope the DISD finanicial department is looking into this and proper action will be taken. This type of thing has been going on for way to long at W.T. White.

Money Taken from students for tryouts issue far from over

Even though the cheerleader sponsor at W. T. white showed up at work today with over $400 she claims she took out of her personal account last night to pay back the tryout fees she charged, a number of questions remain. First of all, why would she have to use her personal money to pay this back? Where is the original money she took up from the students that she was suppose to deposit on the same day she recieved it to the financial clerk at the school. Did she do this? Others have been fired for not following this policy. Did she turn in the required forms to her principal and the Executive Director required for any fundraiser? Were are these forms? Truly who were the judges? the National cheerleader association has no record of sending judges to W.T. White. The girls who tried out said the judges were Ramona Ford, a teacher at the school, Laura Gordon, another teacher at the school, and the cheerleader sponsor's cousin. If the two from the school judged accepted money for judging, this also violates DISD policy as they are not allowed to take money for this. Did they take the money? There should be some record of a check request issued to get them the money. A full investigation into this whole mess needs to be started immediately. The associate principal at White, Rena Davis, for goodness sakes, has a daughter who is a cheerleader there. Why didn't she question this? Did she pay her five dollars also? It sounds like to me the more the cheer sponsor lies about this, the more the district should be prone to investigate. I guess everyone has dismissed the part of the principal in this matter. And last, will Mr. Dahlander recant his false statemtn that W.T. White has always used outside judges to be fair and does not use those in the building. I've seen judges pulled out of the hall before.

Charging Confirmed

On the Dallas News DISD blog, there is a big article confirming that W.T. White cheerleader sponsor, Hiliary Rinella, did in- deed charge students $5 each to try out for the cheerleading squad a few weeks ago. The funny thing about this is that the infamous Jon Dahlander's reply was that "this was done so that local professionals from the National Cheerleading Association could be hired to do the judging so it would be fair. There is only one thing wrong with Mr. Dahlander's statement. The judges Ms. Rinella used and supposedly used the "tryout fee" for were two teachers from W.T. White, Laura Gordon and Ramona Ford and the third judge was the cousin of Ms. Rinella. Not one professional judge from NCA or any other cheerleading professional was used for the judges. I have worked at White for 6 years and never have professional judges been used during this time. It has always been teachers or friends of the sponsor. Ask anyone and this can be verified.
This is a travesty that this can go on charging kids in a school which is predominantly low socio economic.

Was the money Ms. Rinella took from the students turned in to the school financial clerk? Were receipts given to the students when they paid? Were checks issued to the teachers and Ms. Rinella's cousin who judged. Seems to me all of this could easily be checked out and something done to those who have violated virtually every DISD finance rule there is.

For several pep rallies during the past years, Ms. Rinella has charged students $2.00 each to attend the pep rally. At least 1000 students paid every time she charged so what did she do with the $2000 she collected for the pep rallies? Couldn't this have been used to hire professional judges?

And last, Mr. Dahlander, I would suggest you check out your facts before you put them in writing. Nothing you quoted to Ms. Hobbs in her article is true.

These tryouts should be completely redone with Ms. Rinella no where in the mix. She should be banned from the building during the tryouts and handed a list the next day of the girls and/or boys the judges chose. Anyone should know this is the only fair way for tryouts as important as these are to the kids to be handled.

Charging for tryouts

On the Dallas News DISD blog, it has the story about the students having to pay for tryouts at W.T. White. Everyone needs to read the absolute lies that Jon Dahlander has the nerve to put in his response. One is that W.T. White hires National Cheerleading Association and other local professionals to judge the tryouts and never uses school personnel. I have worked at W.T. White for 6 years and they have never used anyone but teachers in the building and friends of the cheerleader sponsor to judge tryouts. How can Dahlander get away with lying about things that can be proven by just asking? Are his responses ever checked out to see if they are true? I challenge someone to call the National Cheerleader Association and ask which judges they sent out to judge the recent tryouts at W.T. White or ask the cheer sponsor who judged her tryouts this year and where were they from. If school personnel lied to Mr. Dahlander, they should be fired. If he lied, he should be fired. His other response was that the Cheerleader Booster Club charged the fee for the students trying out. How stupid is that folks. Why on earth would a booster club have the authority to charge students to try out for cheerleader or drill team. And what about all the pep rallies this year that students had to pay to attend. Why couldn't this money have been used for the judges (even though they were teachers in the building)? Something is not right here.

$5.00 TAKS Pep Rally at Bryan Adams last year

I can see charging 1.00 - 2.00 for a Pep Rally, but 5.00 for a TAKS Pep Rally when scores where already low and they got worse. That one should of been FREE ! Only about 100 students attended. Maybe it went to fund Walker's daily Starbuck's !

Goodsell, Yarbrough, Rodriguez, Gomez, etc.

The rumor is these three and others who left so abruptly are being paid until the end of the year. If this is true, that is a tremendous amount of money to pay for these people who were obviously let go for some reason. Will this ever be known and will we ever know why these were abruptly relieved of their duties. I mean, who leaves a job of this proportion and salary one day and just never shows up again. Looks like to me there is a great story here for someone, but no one seems to know anything about this mystery.

[Ed Note: Generally things like this are part of voluntary separation agreements. It's frequently the practice when someone is terminated from a position not-for-cause. The idea behind it is: they'd rather buy someone out of the position, amicably, as opposed to hiring lawyers to litigate any "untidy" details of a separation. I know it sounds like a waste but, in many cases, it saves money--especially in our litigious society.]

Board Members

Recently I heard Mike Morath commenting about what a bad job some teachers are doing and how we need to get rid of all "bad" teachers (I guess "bad" is determined by student performance on standardized tests; not sure. He never clarified). It gave me an idea. I think ALL board members need to be required to spend the day as a classroom teacher once a semester (preferably in middle or high school); similar to the Principal For a Day Program. I'm so tired of hearing people who have NEVER taught in an urban classroom talk about what a bad job teachers are doing. They need to have to call parents, address behavioral problems and teach a core subject. And it can't be some talented and gifted class or magnet school class.

[Ed Note: So they would get the entire classroom experience in one day?]

Don't forget erichment and elective classes

Core and or enrichment elective classes. The core courses get support from the enrichment elective classes and need to stop being pushed to the background!

Well that seems like a

Well that seems like a sarcastic question. No one can get the "entire classroom experience in one day". Ijust need them to get SOME EXPERIENCE.

[Ed Note: I was just following on to what you proposed. OK, how much classroom experience do they need?]

Mike Morath

Yes, I have heard this from other people. He hears this from principals and automatically assumes the worst. He mentioned once that all students in DISD should be at commended performance, otherwise teachers were not doing their jobs. However, there is a thing called a bell-curve. Not every student will be at the top of the bell-curve. If they are, then the test is invalid. Look at the Atlanta GA Scandal. Also, it's a good excuse to bring in TFAs. He is all for the TFAs

[Ed Note: I think you're talking about a "normal distribution" and confusing this with "in order for some to succeed, some must fail." Mike is correct. Our population mean can certainly be in the academically acceptable range with very tight standard deviations and we can be a successful district. Mike is correct.]

Morath

I really don't think [editorial response to Morath post] that the poster is saying that our district cannot be successful. The poster is suggesting that it would be very abnormal for every child in the district to receive commended performance on standardized test - and I quite agree! There is somewhat of a bell curve to life. Not everyone is going to achieve the same way as others, nor is everyone going to make it up to that A or 4.0 level. Reality check ! Now I hear both good and bad things coming from Morath. I'm an educator in the district , and he has emailed me a couple responses in the past. One of them several of my colleagues and I shook our heads at. There was honestly some nonsensical pieces to it. On other occasions, I can truly say that he sounded very level-headed and reasonable.
The real bottom line is this: we have GOT to quit rising and falling based on children's performance on a state test !! Lets work smarter DISD - not harder !

Teaching misogyny?

As distressing when Texas schools don't protect children,
as featured on the "Schools" page of www.familylawcourts.com,

to learn women teachers and school officials lead the way in violating laws designed for equal rights, well, I'm sure Montana's top misogyny, www.montanajudges.com would appreciate Shirley Ison-Newsome and the people who thought she'd earned a promotion.

The "interim" promotion was

The "interim" promotion was before the field trip.

Promotion

What pay raise did SIN receive for the interim promotion? The rest of us are doing additonal duties and jobs without a raise.

Raise for 2012 - 2013

They gave her an addl' 23,000.00 for the upcoming school year. Where's all the money coming from, you keep saying you don't have for teachers??

More than meets the rose colored spectacles

So Mr. King is concerned about criticism....hmmmm.
I noticed about the Shirley comment about how she stands aside and waits until she has she has the upper hand, then fights....
What gets me is how the funds for pre school education were misappropriated. Then they offered the girls an option that was not equal to the boys' opportunity. They seem to have a hidden agenda. Something is happening under the cover of education. Why does the school need to spend so much for buses, and movies? Who is being paid, and what relationship to SIN is the business going to? In the real world, that seems like kickback city. A contract gets padded so the originator has a cut in the funds, after the payment is issued. I know that NEVER happens in DISD. RIGHT!
So anyway, they do not like for us to think about how they waste taxpayer funds, and deny earmarked early education funds to the preschool children, but send the 10 year old boys to a PG13 film, at an outrageous expense to the taxpayer while they discriminate against the female population, and they see nothing wrong with that. They feel that they are above the law, and the taxpayer is the enemy for caring how the scum waste funds.

Mr. King, if you want us to not criticize your administration activities with the funds that your team refuses to spend on the federally referred to earmark, then you need to accept the responsibility to spend the funds correctly and appropriately, and not look like you have lots of things to hide, like a common corrupt sleaze does when they do business in a scuzzy unethical way. If you continue to break the law, be forewarned, we are watching and we will criticize your actions again and again, until you get it together. You owe the children of Dallas the quality of education they offer in other districts, and until you stop the daily child cheating, we will continue to criticize, and not stop until your team plays by the rules.

SIN

I heard on the Channel 8 news tonite regarding this story - SIN received a promotion after this incident??? Who, pray tell, gave her this promotion??? And since you mentioned the credit card scandal and Shirley's contribution - was she ever held accountable for all of the gift cards, clothing, etc. she purchased with the District's money? Never heard another word about it or her in that regard.

As we've known for many years - the inmates are running the aslyum.

How much more of promotion

How much more of promotion can SIN get. Another "Inflation" stimulus? Oh well, get while you can.

SIN

I wondered the same thing, and posted a similar comment to yours on the DMN website. Matthew Haag, one of the education writers responded by saying that he was pretty sure the promotion came before the field trip. I guess either channel 8 was wrong in that sense or Mr. Haag is (although, from his comment, he seemed pretty sure of himself).