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Response Letter to Article titled Ebby Halliday Elementary: What really happened?


The Dallas Examiner

November 24 – December 1, 2011

Dear Ms. Belt,

This letter is in response to the recent article titled Ebby Halliday Elementary: What really happened?

Good teachers and Principals are key to student achievement.  Parent-teacher conferences present an opportunity for moms and dads to discuss their child's progress and to resolve any concerns about what is, or isn't, happening in the classroom.  Unfortunately sometimes parents make judgment based upon prior discussions with other individuals that are fueled by anger mongering and incomplete information.  Something similar to what happened at Ebby Halliday recently happened to a community in East Dallas. 

I totally understand what Ms. Chanika Turner and the Hispanic teacher that spoke to the parents are going through.  I commend and admire them both for standing up for their beliefs.    We all have a voice and it should be heard. It is people like them that make a difference in this world.   Just recently I received calls from fellow neighbors about a meeting that was conducted at an Elementary school.  At first, I was in disbelief and then I received more calls about flyers being distributed making the Jubilee Park residents out to be the villains who were against the new O.M. Roberts Elementary.

Despite the fact that DISD displays at its headquarters a picture that reads “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," our taxpaying citizens have been victimized and intimidated by DISD’s tactics.  As many of you may already be aware, DISD has been on a rampage of clearing out our neighborhood piece by piece through eminent domain and leaving in its wake vacant homes when it seized them to use as parking lots and geo-thermal fields.

We were very disappointed and concerned to learn that our District would organize and allow a rally against the residents opposing the parking lot and geo-thermal fields.  I'm writing this letter because I too like the Hispanic teacher who tried to convince Hispanic parents have been told that I’m against my own race.   I would like to share a little history about our community and two families with you.  You see back in the 1960’s O.M. Roberts was a predominantly Anglo school then the Garrett family (one of the families affected by DISD’s plans), fulfilled their American dream when they bought a house and made it their home.  As one of the first African American families in the East Dallas area, they faced challenges others never had to.  The Garrett children were the first African Americans to attend O.M. Roberts Elementary.  One can imagine how that might have been for the family, especially in the 1960's when the heartbeat of prejudice was a coronary in the making.  But the Garrett family stayed the course, became active members of the community and have made East Dallas their home for almost 50 years. 

Then there's the Lozano family.  Yet another family's livelihood being threatened by DISD.  They moved to the area in 1970.   As the first Mexican-American family in the neighborhood, the Lozano's have also had to overcome many challenges.  Lately the two families have noticed that the African American children are being turned away from attending O.M. Roberts but, the District has turned a deaf ear to the issue and the voices of concerned citizens continue to be ignored.   According to O.M. Roberts Principal Ortiz 92% of the student attendance is Hispanic and the families affected by DISD’s twisted plans are predominantly Hispanic.  Which brings us back to the accusations and the recent Rally.  Parents against DISD’s plan who attended the meeting were afraid to speak for their beliefs because one parent accused me of spreading incorrect information and being a “racist” against Hispanics. (All because I’m against eminent domain and DISD’s seizure to take homes to convert them into a parking lot and geo-thermal fields that will be placed in-between the homes of Senior, Disabled and Veteran residents). The District does not seem to take into account children’s safety, as its plans for parking lots and geo-thermal fields interspersed with area homes seems extremely dangerous. Many in the community are well aware that The Garrett and Lozano families have worked diligently for years to make a difference in the community and school.

 At the Rally an angry parent yelled for one brave resident to be removed from the meeting because she voiced her opinion.  After the rally a woman walking in the affected community directed comments at the residents by yelling “You are going to leave you dirty women”.    I ask, why would DISD allow this type of behavior to continue during and after the meeting? Instead of addressing the anger and frustrations DISD added fuel to the fire.

 DISD’s oversimplification of what the students could have if we weren’t in the way of “progress” was merely an underhanded tactic to make us the villains so that DISD doesn’t have to be accountable for its actions.  Fueling a parents’ misdirected anger and emotions with criticism towards us is wrong and simply irresponsible behavior from the District.

As taxpayers in this neighborhood, our community has suffered dehumanizing discrimination by DISD.  We’ve faced many changes in the last year, such as the loss of a historic building, the threat of eminent domain and re-zoning, a looming threat over our property rights, and the loss of living peacefully as homeowners.  We also face a 114 space parking lot that violates city code and unfamiliar geo-thermal fields in-between our homes and in our backyards.  And now we face fears and threats not only from DISD but from our fellow neighbors.  I simply do not understand why DISD is putting the blame on homeowners for DISD’s failure to present an acceptable plan to the taxpaying citizens of Dallas.  Criticizing the homeowners of Jubilee Park for fighting for their property rights is not the right way for DISD to make its case.  And inflaming anger and hatred towards homeowners — such as what happened in the meeting — has simply made a difficult situation far more dangerous for the affected residents.

We are a dedicated, organized community, and we support DISD’s efforts to bring the best education to the students attending O.M. Roberts.  If we would have been given a chance, we would have tirelessly worked with DISD on a solution.  Unfortunately, DISD continues to ignore our voice and it seems they will never give us the opportunity to discuss what is best for the community that IS affected by these plans.   

In November of 2010, The Dallas school board passed an anti-bullying policy for students, and I truly believe that actions reflect leadership.  So I ask you, how can this policy be enforced when our DISD leaders continue to break their own rules?

This was uncalled for and done in bad faith.  The lives and homes of our residents may now be threatened because their actions have stirred up hatred and hostility amongst the neighborhood.

Thank you for your continued support.   Please contact your elected officials and voice your concerns and opinions.  If you would like to learn more about our crisis please visit

 Kind Regards,

 Norma Hernandez

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