Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dade Middle School Crisis in Dallas ISD

The school year started at Dade Middle School with one of the lowest tenured teaching staffs in all of DISD!

This happened in spite of the fact that Dade is an inner city middle school with a record of intense discipline problems and violence, rated "improvement required" for the second year in a row.  Dade began this school year with over 54% of teaching staff, 32 out of 59, having one year or less tenure with DISD.  The teachers may have had more teaching time, but were new to DISD, and DISD would not release more details.  

This was a recipe for failure that ultimately exploded with the report posted 10-10-14 by the Dallas Morning News online Friday evening and linked here.  The Dade leadership team and 10 Dade teachers were suddenly replaced by Mr. Miles.  More details are constantly emerging. Get updates at or from Dade and other sources.

But, this crisis started two years ago! Plans to merge two rival middle schools into the new $53,000,000 Billy Earl Dade Middle School were being made.  Advice of local educators to work in the community before the opening to ease the merging of two rival middle schools was ignored by Mr. Miles and his staff.

The local principal with a positive history managing the original Billy Earl Dade Middle School, who was there when Mr. Miles started with DISD, was presumed to be the first principal over the new Dade.  He was the first principal under Miles. However he was suddenly removed along with many of the experienced teachers from the old Dade by Miles.  A principal from outside the community, unknown to the community, with no secondary school experience, and many Teach for American teachers, and other new teachers, were assigned to the new building.  Achievement fell and the Dade was rated "Improvement Required" the first year in the new building.  Principal number two was replaced by a third principal this past summer who lasted 6 weeks into this school year.

Now as of  10-14-14 almost half of the teacher replacements assigned last week, have quit.  See a local news report linked here on these sudden resignations.

The fourth principal is still there with the new leadership team assigned last week. (Note: this was posted 10-14-14 and things are moving fast in DISD.  If you know more of the history and see errors please email corrections: )

Repeat, the new Dade principal as of last week is the fourth principal at Dade since Mr. Miles came to DISD.  The teaching staff at Dade has evolved since 2012 to become one of the least tenured and lowest paid at any school in DISD.  Dade teachers have an average of 5.3 years in DISD while the average teacher in the district has an average tenure within DISD of 7.9 years.  While DISD already has a terrifyingly high percentage of teacher staff who are new to DISD, 32.8% having one year or less with DISD, at Dade that percentage with one year or less in DISD is over 54%!   (Please let me know if you are aware of any DISD school with a greater percentage of staff with one year or less time with DISD! )

Consistent with such exceptionally high turnover, Dade staff have some of the lowest average salaries in DISD.   While DISD has over 18% of classroom teaching staff with salaries over $58,000, at Dade that percentage was only 10% as of 8-18-14.  

What happened in DISD to the idea of encouraging the most experienced staff, the best paid staff, to be working in our most demanding schools?

Problems at Dade have deteriorated under Mr. Miles' leadership due to his habit of ignoring local history and not respecting local advice in his planning.  This is a dangerous and repeated pattern that has resulted in ending much of the progress being made in DISD as a whole when Mr. Miles arrived in July of 2012!  See the documentation of that decline at .

Dallas must pay more attention to what is happening, the data coming from our schools, and compare that to what is being said by Mr. Miles.


A separate but major element with the Dade crisis is unrelated to Mr. Miles beyond the fact that he also followed the lead of previous DISD administrations and has done little more than talk about it.  They have all virtually ignored the growing research that shows middle schools are not good for student achievement.   Some of that research is described and linked to a blog at .   DISD must begin moving away from the use of middle schools.  The focus must change to the use of K-8 schools in our communities throughout Dallas.

After the current leadership crisis in both Dade and DISD is managed, DISD must deal with the damage being done by the very existence of middle schools in DISD. 

But DISD cannot wait for that to rebuild H.S. Thompson, a feeder school to Dade, as a K-8 school.  That must be started now!

That critical and urgent step could begin the slow transition over the next decade to having local community centered K-8 schools wherein walking to school will become more normal once again and achievement will soar while behavior problems are almost eliminated.   If the transition is done right, so our students are focused onto their own futures at the same time, Dallas will ask why we ever had middle schools.  The progress of 2008-2012 will fade into history and become a faint shadow of the progress DISD will have in the future!

The following statement signed by many community leaders was circulated 10-15-14:



The Dr. Billy Earl Dade Middle School opened in 2006 with much optimism and enthusiasm for a school of excellence to serve the middle school students in sunny South Dallas.  The former elementary school transitioned well to a middle school feeding into Madison High School, giving the two high schools in south Dallas pure feeder patterns.  The excitement continued as the principal was one who was well known to the community and many of the students, teachers and ancillary staff were committed to making this an oasis in sunny South Dallas. 


For two years, the principal and staff worked toward improving the academic progress of students while at the same time fostering basic social skills development of students, giving students a sense of their personal worth, and engaging the community and community partners in what was slowly but surely could become a beacon of hope and sunshine in sunny South Dallas.  The Bond Program provided for a new school, and the Dedication of the new school took place November 2012 under the administration of the principal and staff who had transitioned the school from elementary to middle school.  However, the optimism that had carried forth from 2006 through the dedication of the new building in November 2012 was cut short when the principal and teachers were summarily replaced before the move to the new building in the fall of 2013.  This transitional staff was replaced with a principal who had no experience as a secondary principal and no experience in sunny South Dallas.  To add to this lack of experience, the school was staffed with approximately 13 Teach for America teachers and 7 first year teachers.  These individuals with NO prior teaching experience replaced experienced teachers.   To further complicate matters, the central administration ignored information that two rival schools would be combined into one.   No plans were made to proactively address these teen rivalries.  The results: Dade went back academically in every measurable area, chaos was the order of the day, and the principal who was selected by the DISD Senior Administration was released to become a principal facilitator – one who coaches other principals! Another selection of the DISD Executive Administration was brought in for the next year ---and summarily removed six weeks into the school year!  The stellar replacement for this middle school placed in turmoil by actions of the DISD Executive Administration is another elementary principal who has no secondary experience.  Simultaneously, the experienced assistant principals were removed and replaced by another group of those who have no ties to this community --- coming in well after the start of the school year.  The student demographics for Dade are 69.5% Black; 29.3% Hispanic and 1 percent other.  The administration is:

1 Principal – Hispanic Female

4 Assistant Principals:  2 Female Hispanics; 1 White Female; and 1 Black Female (an all-female administrative team for a campus in turmoil and where there is a clear need for strong male models for both the female and male students.)   Additionally, the Executive Administration decided to remove teachers and replace them with Instructional Coaches from around the District – the result –day 1, over half of the Instructional Coaches were no shows, so the classes were doubled up; a food fight ensued, and the chaos continued.  Day 2 -three of the Instructional Coaches resigned leaving classes without assigned teachers; students continued their protests for the removal of trusted teachers and leaders.  The Superintendent canceled the Parent Meeting to brief parents --- a meeting scheduled on Middle School Parent Conference Night which was an optimum time to reach the most parents, and a continued sense of chaos and disorganization continues. These missteps orchestrated by the Executive Administration of DISD are a disservice to the Dade School Community. 

Ø We, the community, call upon the Superintendent to host a town hall meeting to address the future of Dade Middle School to ensure a semblance of stability and opportunity for student growth; 

Ø We call upon the Superintendent to give respect to the parents of Dade students by addressing this directly with them and answering any questions they may have;

Ø We call upon the Board of Trustees to review this situation which has placed a troubled school in greater harm; to remove a current DISD School Board member from a public school is highly unacceptable and an appropriate remedy MUST be developed and enforced.


Ø We call upon the Superintendent to cite specific statues that would allow for the ejection of an elected official from pubic school property, within that member’s Trustee District. We call upon the superintendent to address the criteria for permitting one trustee to attend staff meetings while excluding other trustees.  We call upon the superintendent to adhere to his amended contract that requires him to foster positive relationships among school board trustees.

Concerned citizens of the Dade School community desire a stable learning environment filled with high expectations, dedicated, competent educators with a successful track record of working with diverse urban students.

October 15, 2014                 Contact:  Dr. Roscoe C. Smith

 Partial list of supporters:

The Honorable Mavis Knight, Texas State Board of Education, District 13                                                      

The Honorable Carolyn R. Davis, Dallas City Council District, District 7

The Honorable Harryette Ehrhardt, former, State Representative

Dr. Michael L. Bowie, Pastor, St. Luke “Community” UMC

Dr. Zan W. Holmes, Jr., Pastor Emeritus, St. Luke “Community” UMC

The Honorable Diane Ragsdale, former Dallas City Council member

Minister Jeffery Muhammad, Muhammad Mosque

Rev. Bryan Carter, President, African American Pastors Coalition

Dr. Ronald Jones, Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church

Dr. Harry L. Robinson, Jr., resident of South Dallas

Shirley Ison-Newsome, retired DISD administrator

Dr. Alfred L. Roberts, Sr., retired DISD administrator, resident of South Dallas

Dr. Roscoe C. Smith, retired DISD administrator