Posted on August 29, 2005

Bilingual-Principal Plan Approved

Tawnell D. Hobbs, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 26

The Dallas school board meeting turned racially heated Thursday night as trustees voted 5-4 to require some principals to become bilingual.

The policy, which pitted blacks against Hispanics, will apply at campuses where at least half the students enrolled in the last three years have had limited English proficiency.

In elementary schools, the requirement applies to principals in schools rated acceptable or unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency.

Elementary schools rated exemplary or recognized and all middle schools and high schools would need one of their top officials to be bilingual, but not necessarily the principal.

Administrators will have a year to enroll in a training program at district expense and three years to attain bilingual proficiency.

The board’s three black trustees — Ron Price, Lew Blackburn and Hollis Brashear — and trustee Nancy Bingham opposed the plan. Dr. Blackburn, frustrated with the policy, made a motion to require administrators in majority-black schools to be proficient in Afro-centric studies. It failed.

A frustrated Mr. Brashear, who voted for Dr. Blackburn’s plan, told fellow trustees: “I am not going to be a party to these race politics.”

He later said the board has been “spiraling downward for the last two or three months.”

Trustee Joe May proposed the idea of having bilingual principals in May to make it easier for non-English-speaking parents to communicate with their children’s principals. The Dallas school district is about 65 percent Hispanic.