Lori Kirkpatrick, candidate for Dallas ISD District 2 trustee

A long-fought race last spring for the District 2 seat on Dallas ISD’s board of trustees, which Dustin Marshall won by 42 votes in a June runoff election, did not prevent another election this spring.

Marshall’s win filled the final year of Mike Morath’s 3-year term after Morath left the board to become the Texas Education Agency commissioner, and now the Preston Hollow resident and CEO of Hazel’s Hot Shot is running to win his own 3-year term. M Streets resident Mita Havlick, Marshall’s toughest contender in last year’s election, announced in January that she would not run this time around, but soon afterward, Lori Kirkpatrick, a Hillside resident, Lakewood Elementary parent and physician’s assistant at Parkland Hospital, tossed her hat in the ring.

“The main thing that hit me in the last year is that public education is under attack — nationally, at the state level and certainly, I feel like, here locally as well,” Kirkpatrick says. “I am a staunch advocate for public education. For me, I think opportunity starts with education. With everything going on, I feel like if there was a time to take a stand, it’s now.

“My slogan is, ‘I’m fighting for my family and yours.’ I feel really strongly about it.”

She says she has met Marshall only once, at a recent National Education Association (NEA) Dallas chapter forum, where they both answered questions. (The NEA subsequently endorsed Kirkpatrick, she says.) When asked why she decided to run against him, she points out that Marshall has school-aged children who don’t attend Dallas ISD schools.

“If you’re not sending your children to your community school and encouraging your neighbors to attend your community school and making your neighborhood school what it could and should be,” Kirkpatrick says, “your level of commitment to DISD is in question, in my mind.”

She also takes issue with Marshall’s stance on TEA’s preliminary A-F grading system. The DISD board, along with 552 other Texas school boards, voted on a resolution to oppose it. Marshall and North Dallas Trustee Edwin Flores were the only trustees to vote against the resolution and in favor of the new grading system, with Marshall noting that “we cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

“That system has been around for a long time. It started in Florida in the late ’90s.  There’s been plenty of time to tweak,” Kirkpatrick says. “If this was a good system, those interested in tweaking it would have tweaked it by now.”

Kirkpatrick also says “teacher morale and teacher retention is a concern” for her, and she believes the Teacher Excellence Initiative [TEI] system of evaluating and rewarding teachers “is not helping our problem of morale and retention.”

“[TEI] at least needs to be reworked, if not replaced,” she says.

Marshall is a supporter of TEI as well as the possibility of DISD becoming a “District of Innovation,” another “concern” for Kirkpatrick. Both the incumbent and his challenger support the district’s expansion of early childhood education and the Accelerating Campus Excellence program, which incentivizes top teachers and principals to work at the district’s highest-need schools.

TEI, ACE, pre-K expansion and other such initiatives are championed by the education reform movement, which Marshall supports and is supported by. He has begun circulating campaign emails asking for donations and volunteers, and stating that “it is imperative that we retain a reform-minded majority on the board.”

Kirkpatrick is hosting a meet and greet Tuesday, March 7, 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Mockingbird-Abrams Einstein Brothers Bagels. Marshall’s next community coffee, part of a monthly series he has been hosting, is Friday, March 31, 8:30-9:30 a.m. at BuzzBrews in Lakewood.

We have a call into a third candidate in the District 2 race, Richard D. Young, a former DISD employee who now works at Gateway Charter School. He intended to run for the District 8 seat, according to a 2016 letter to DISD describing Young’s grievance with and lawsuit against the district. He also notes on a basic campaign website his intent to run against Trustee Miguel Solis for the District 8 seat. However, Young lives in District 2, not District 8, and filed accordingly.

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