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Appendix A
PUBLIC FORUMS AND
FOCUS GROUP COMMENTS

As part of the review process, public forums were held at 15 Dallas area high schools in which approximately 200 parents, teachers, administrators, and community members participated by writing personal comments regarding 12 specific topics of review; and in some cases, discussed these topics with review team members. Parents and community members also participated in smaller focus groups to separately discuss the 12 topics under review. Additionally, 27 focus groups were conducted at the Central Office and the office of State Representative Harryette Ehrhadt.

The following comments convey the community's perception of Dallas Independent School District and do not reflect the findings or opinion of the Comptroller or review team. These are the actual comments received for each focus area.

A. District Organization And Management
B. Educational Service Delivery
C. Community Involvement
D. Personnel Management
E. Facilities Use And Management
F. Asset And Risk Management
G. Financial Management
H. Purchasing And Contract Management
I. Food Service
J. Computers And Technology
K. Transportation
I. Safety and Security
Part 1
Part 2

Safety and Security (Part 2)

  • The biggest problem I hear about at my son's elementary school are disruptive students who keep others from learning. Get these kids out of the classroom and maybe people who have left the public schools will return.
  • Discipline policies need to align with state law.
  • Principals and assistant principals need to be given the correct tools to work instead of having their hands tied.
  • It is great to have officers on campus.
  • Teachers will have trouble if they are not organized, on task, or do not have a discipline plan.
  • I don't know if the metal detectors are helping. Checking bags is good for the most part but it is not fun.
  • Please look into the policy here at Bryan Adams High School. The management and local law enforcement officer here are not for all people. My daughter had a problem with a student here. The Dallas police officer informed her that the student would be filed on. But he told the assistant principal that the problem was nothing. I stayed up to the school for three hours that day to be told to come back on Monday in which everyone would talk it out. The principal was an hour and 15 minutes late stating she was called for jury duty. So I ended the conference by talking to both my daughter and the other student.
  • What's the real story with CEP? It seems amazing to me that this contract exists especially for $10 million.
  • Somehow we need to be able to move the behavior problem kids out of the classroom.
  • What would it take to increase police security in and around our community to protect the homeowners, and also our school children? In our community, I notice houses that are used for illegal activity such as drugs, prostitution and gang-style groups. What will it take to "STOP" these activities from openly operating?
  • All classroom doors should lock from the inside. If there is an emergency in the building, most schools' classroom doors will not lock from the inside.
  • The zero-tolerance policy is a joke. When will the district enforce the policy?
  • In this day we have to be so careful with those outside of schools. I am glad that Dallas has emergency plans in each of the schools. It is a shame that schools can sometimes be dangerous but I feel the schools are doing everything possible to avoid problems from outside of school.
  • They're doing a good job at the metal detectors.
  • Security at elementary school was available until a few years ago. There are car thefts occasionally.
  • They need to check the book bags when we go inside the buildings, instead of our pockets because everybody got used to putting weapons in their book bag.
  • There should be more metal detectors and securities at every DISD school.
  • I'm concerned about broken lockers in our school buildings. What will it take to have them repaired?
  • The security of the portable buildings is laughable! Routinely, these buildings are broken into and equipment is stolen. The district will do nothing to make these buildings more secure. The individual campus is left to absorb the cost replacing any stolen items because the district carries no insurance. One portable on the Stonewall Jackson campus requires three plates mounted on top of each other just to allow the deadbolt in the door to reach the doorframe.
  • Student discipline is out of control. Students can do what they want when they want. And there are only a few who take up so much time and energy from those students that want to learn. It should be statewide and three strikes and you are out. If the parent(s) want their child to return to school then that parent and child should have to take a series of "staff development" on proper behavior within a school. Disrespect should be outlawed and in no way tolerated.
  • Administrators do not support teachers in discipline procedure.
  • We need video surveillance for parking and halls to catch those wanting to do mischief. Keep our youth action and police office in place.
  • We need night security and parking lot security.
  • I think a policeman on duty during the morning and afternoon rush hours would be a great comfort to all of us. Within the past 2 weeks, I have been rear-ended and backed into. There is never a policeman in sight. Neither caused any harm, but it would be comforting to know an official is around.
  • The superintendent pay scale is unbelievable. The SBDM in our school has great input, volunteers and hard-working parents and community and teachers to work through committees and study issues.
  • We have been begging for security in our student parking lot. This seems to be an impossible task, just getting someone who cares. Cars are broken into every football game. The athletes, cheerleaders, band members and drill teams leave their cars here at school because they ride the bus to the game. Students are so used to the vandalism, that they now park their cars, then get everything out of them so that when they are broken into there will be nothing of value to take. Where is our help in this matter?
  • We are lucky we've had no problems. Kids roam halls with few to no consequences. Repeated warnings must stop. The basic skills of attending school, being prepared, not roaming halls, not talking back and using profanity. Make consequences more immediate such as classes to learn proper behavior. If kids don't show up to these sessions, send them to alternative school if parents don't respond. We must have consequences and if parents won't be involved their kids will learn quickly that they will pay consequences. Have short immediate consequences quickly at first and if these don't work move the kids to the alternative site. Get the dead wood out! Increase disciplinary staff to do that and then the kids will turn around. A positive momentum will get going instead of teachers having to be responsible for keeping track of negative behavior.
  • There are too many children/students sitting at the park and walking around after 9:00 a.m. that should be in school. What are the people in Youth Action and Security doing? Even patrolling after 10:00 a.m. would help.
  • When Junior High School and High School students are released at noon for testing, they come to the elementary school to start confusion. Can Youth Action patrol on those days?
  • Security is non-existent at my middle school. The principal seems to have a pathological aversion to discipline. In short, he lets the kids run the school. There have been several times in the last couple years I have feared for my safety. I teach at two other schools and I don't see these problems there.
  • Student discipline is fair. But it is not easy to manage. The administrators are wonderful and they are very supportive of teachers when there are problems. They are also fair with the students. I believe the alternative school setting is working well.
  • I appreciate the district's willingness to back-up its teachers in student discipline cases while in other districts the administrators back-up the parents of the offending students instead.
  • Hillcrest has done a good job providing a safe place for our children to be educated. I have felt safe on all the many campuses that I have visited as a parent, PTA member, and PTA president. I support the student discipline policies set forth by the district. The policeman who is present on our campus is wonderful and serves a need.
  • Make sure teachers understand the cultural differences of African American, Latino, Asian American, and American Indian students' learning styles and ways of expressing frustration. Some teachers seem to be uncomfortable with culturally different ways of communicating and too swiftly punish kids from backgrounds other than their own.
  • I feel parents should be informed of any problem concerning their child when a near fight or conflict occurs. Many times I have only heard about such matters from my kid.
  • Schools are going to be planning for major emergencies. But doors do not lock from the inside. I understand this is a district policy, but do not understand that if they really are concerned about student safety, the simplest, most cost-effective thing they could do at the high school level would be to arrange for the doors to lock on the inside.
  • Student discipline varies greatly from campus to campus. Most of it seems to depend on the principal and it doesn't seem to have any consistency in enforcement.
  • The metal detectors don't work half the time. Teachers should not have to guard halls and doors. They are to teach. Security guards have little power and some are arrogant and offensive without being effective. A threatened teacher is told there is no recourse against an 18 year-old freshman when threatened with bodily harm.
  • Students need to learn responsibility for their actions before they are grown. If they don't get this at home, the school must enforce this. Make the punishment fit the crime.
  • Can we get more lighting outside around the portable areas?
  • Can the district provide portables with the proper non-skid mats for the steps and landings? This area is very slippery during rain and inclement weather.
  • Students and teachers need clear consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Students should not be allowed to continually disrupt their education or the education of others.
  • Students are scared. District does only enough to cover their liability issues. Meanwhile, teachers' cars are vandalized, one-third of the students go through metal detectors and two-thirds go around the system.
  • Teachers are not given enough authority to maintain order and control.
  • Alternative education programs are great for removing disruptive students. But, rules change from year to year and make placing someone into a program long and drawn-out. It takes two drug offenses and a gang fight to remove a student to AEP.
  • AEP looks good on paper and students don't think of it as a deterrent. Students with criminal records are allowed back in school over and over again. Students are given way too many chances. Three substantial referrals should mean student's out but at an alternative campus. At least have a campus students can go to, who have never been in trouble with the law.
  • My school is not safe. We have metal detectors, but they are manned only for a short time. There is no supervision for students before 7:00 a.m. when many students are dropped off by parents. Weapons can be hidden on the campus behind portables and I have found hidden knives and pepper sprays. Kids can walk directly to portables without going through security and later go into the school without a metal check. Kids are often leaving campus and returning without being stopped or noticed. Two security people who are in the office dealing with a fight cannot watch the campus. We need some form of picture ID for staff and students as well as roaming security or even cameras in specific areas to improve safety.
  • Most students don't get much discipline beyond these schools walls. Some parents don't know what to do. Our students are the safest students in all of DISD. Our security is well controlled and the very best. I feel safe at all times.
  • We need more security at all the schools. I'm satisfied with the discipline policies.
  • Elementary schools should have interactive phones/intercoms in every classroom.
  • Some students have had very little discipline beyond the school setting. Teachers who care take the time to show concern. Sometimes, students should be expelled due to zero tolerance, but teachers try to correct this improper behavior by the best means possible. If Pinkston does not help with self-discipline, our students will be future jailbirds.
  • Security is lacking in the elementary schools. We need panic buttons in all classrooms for emergencies including health, or other attentions that need immediate nurse or administrator. Building is not secure and does not prevent children or adults from wandering into the building.
  • We don't need more security. We need more parents doing their job at home so it can reflect at school. Discipline should begin at home.
  • I feel they put too many students out of school for too many small things. We as parents should have a good relationship with the local law enforcement and know what alternative education there are before your children get to that point. We need more security outside the school.
  • There was a disturbing incident that occurred at an all-female assembly. The head security officer talked to the girls in an unprofessional, hostile, and male-aggressive way. He demeaned them with his words and tone of voice. He said things like, girls don't act that way and you females aren't supposed to talk that way ("talking mess" is what he called it). The point is that he didn't focus on the rules. He focused on gender as a factor in the "right" way to act.
  • A lot of teachers do not have proactive discipline management skills. They need training by an outside professional. Teachers make kids stand outside the classroom. They can't learn that way. I've heard teachers talk to kids in an authoritative/hostile/demeaning voice. It upsets me to hear it. There's no reason to strip a student of his/her dignity when you discipline. I've seen teachers hit kids with their hands, too. I've seen kids afraid of teachers. I feel bad for being silent, but it's hard to confront another teacher face-to-face about it.
  • The Safety and Security of the district is a major area of concern. There should be security guards at every campus. Students at every level should be given identification badges. All doors should be locked from the inside where strangers are not allowed to enter the building through out the day without any supervision. Most campuses don't have any type of monitoring of the doors, any one can walk in the building and do whatever, and we have just been lucky.
  • Security should be provided at evening programs. Too many times our cars have been broken into only to have our insurance increase.
  • I am concerned about the level of safety and security measures taken at schools, especially on the high school level. One morning I was at Madison and watched as the teachers/staff performed the search for weapons. They hardly looked in book bags and purses. Why did this school not have a security officer? Shouldn't the high school have security officers? I noticed that Townview does. Why do teachers have to search the students?
  • District-wide uniforms and I.D. badges should be mandatory. To be worn at all times. Security needs to be provided at schools that are picking up sites for middle and high schools.
  • All schools need security, elementary through high school.
  • Police/security should be on every campus.
  • Every school needs personnel for security.
  • Locks should be provided for each classroom with a key for the classroom teacher.
  • I think the metal detectors should stay in the high schools.
  • Periodic patrol in elementary school drop off areas to maintain traffic flow. Parents parking illegally to drop off and pick up children pose a safety hazard to the children.
  • The positive note is that Chief Donovan Collins is student oriented. He has given our schools any and all assistance requested. However, there have been too many budget cuts in the area. It is far better to use preventive measures than to consistently put out fires.
  • The relations with the local enforcement have always been a positive. They have allowed schools to handle educating, while they practice enforcing the laws.
  • Safety and security needs to be improved, anyone can walk off the street into the school with no problem.
  • All schools, especially elementary schools have security buzzers and security guards.
  • I think that I.D. cards should be mandatory on all middle schools and high school campuses. It is a matter of security.
  • What can be done to prevent parents from dropping their children off in the teacher parking lot? They (the parents) disregard the signs and newsletters asking them to refrain from this action in the a.m. and p.m.
  • Something should be done about parents who drop their kids off in the teacher's parking lot. Teachers are delayed in their cars. The parents disregard the signs.
  • There is not enough lighting around our school campus. We have lots of night meetings; the campus and the parking lot need to be well lit.
  • Many times I've noticed children at facilities with adult supervision given only from custodians.
  • Security officers should be at each campus.
  • There is a need for security and/or youth action services in the school community. There seems to be an attitude that elementary students present very few serious problems, but they do.
  • We have serious problems with a park located near our elementary school.
  • A security guard was taken off the elementary campus, but we need one where there is a secondary school close by.
  • The student's discipline policies are not consistently applied from school to school.
  • The safety and security is good in most places.
  • Relations with the law enforcement is good in most places.
  • Alternative education is not understood by community and not used enough.
  • Our school handles discipline issues excellently!
  • Every school needs to have a principal or secretary who can see the front door. Building needs to be changed so that visitors are visible immediately.
  • We have had an excellent relationship with local law enforcement and have had several excellent speakers at our school for parents as well as adults.
  • Despite the best intentions, the traffic problem in front of school remains extremely unsafe to the students. Parents doing u-turns in the middle of the pick up zone, no crossing guards at the corners where approximately 400 of the students cross, but yet there is a guard at each of two corners where easily less than 50 students cross.
  • On the hottest days of the year (108 actual temp, an ozone alert day, and the humidity index making it 110 plus) the principal chose to ignore school policy and sent students out to play. On top of that the air conditioner was out all day.
  • For safety, we at W. T. White High School need a fire hydrant in the back by the portable. I hope the city can finance them since this is the city of Dallas's responsibility.
  • I don't feel safe having my child at school where incidents go unreported, as has been the case at our school. When the kids are allowed out at lunch, there is very little supervision and their idea of it is no talking. No playing, a first grade girl stabbed my son on the playground. I understand no one can avoid these incidents and I was phoned, but there are many, many other accidents that were never reported and when a parent finds out about an accident, our principal has denied knowledge.
  • I am pleased with the safety and security.
  • Safety at Tom C. Gooch is not what it should be with older children at play while younger ones go out to play after lunch being bullied and pushed by the older kids and sometimes hurt, with only one person outside to monitor all the children.
  • I don't feel there is a great concern at this time regarding the safety and security at our school.
  • I think that the teachers and parents should have to go through the metal detectors as well as the students. I also think they should be up all day long, manned by a persons in the morning. We should have camera's that can be viewed in the principal, attendance, and counseling offices. If somebody walked in and goes off, they can look and see when they came in and find them to see if they have something they should not have.
  • When is the district going to hire more police or security officers to help patrol the campuses?
  • Two local securities, two Dallas Public Schools, and one Dallas Police Department are good. The others called security, coaches, or teacher's aides are not good at all; apparently they are not even good with coaching.
  • Elementary schools need security on campus.
  • This is a huge problem and it is escalating. More money must be budgeted to address these issues. Parking lot surveillance is necessary day and night.
  • Metal detectors need to be in good repair.
  • Teachers are doing hall duty and we need them to teach and use their off period to conference with parents, plan with peers, and handle the ever increasing paperwork required. Aides could be hired for hall duty or install surveillance cameras.
  • Portables are not secure. Thousands of dollars in equipment and resources have been stolen.
  • Teachers should have phones in classrooms, especially in the portables.
  • Motion detector lighting would help secure the portables at dusk to mornings.
  • Discipline is not applied equally to all students.
  • Safety is still not our number one priority at our schools.
  • Law enforcement is still a ways behind, but they are coming along.
  • We need someone to patrol the school and parking area.
  • Security is very lax. People off the street can come into this place at anytime. We are just lucky no one has been seriously hurt. In fact some major disruptions (i.e., stabbing of a teacher, trashcan fires, etc.) have been done by people who weren't even students.
  • I do not feel that students, staff, and teachers are safe in DISD. The lockdown procedure is ludicrous. The metal detectors don't work. Everyone should have some crisis management training and first aid should be mandatory staff development.
  • There is an ongoing problem of fire code violation and fines due to locking of school doors.
  • More professional security is needed.
  • Teaching staff should not be assigned security.
  • Metal detectors without trained staff is a problem.
  • There are insufficient facilities for alternative education.
  • State zero-tolerance laws are not enforced by administration.
  • Discipline policy needs to be clear, communicated, and followed.
  • It is far easier to discipline the wronged employee than to discipline the offending children.
  • We need positive alternatives to negative discipline.
  • Bus passes from DART for alternative schools should be restricted to routes to school.
  • We need to look at system to ensure students are actually attending the alternative schools.
  • Police automatically issue ticket to students who fight but parents should first be consulted.
  • Discipline policy is selectively enforced.
  • Enforce the Safe Schools Act.
  • Provide quality alternative programs for students who do not succeed in a regular program.