DISD: High-wire ethics without a safety net


As reported in last week’s Dallas Morning News, the DISD board is considering changes to its ethics policy. Although the process was initially focused upon the question whether the district should be able to do business with companies with which trustees are associated, apparently the review has now branched out to include other issues, as well: “One question yet to be thoroughly discussed is whether a ban would extend to contracts with other types of organizations ??? not just private businesses ??? with ties to trustees. Dr. Konstans said that would include relationships with nonprofit organizations.”

There are doubtless many ethics reforms that could be considered by the DISD board. And, although the Houston Independent School District’s policy on doing business with the district has been held up as a model, there are other school districts with different (and, to my eye, more sensible) policies.

What is at least as interesting as the substantive debate, though, is the very visible — and very politicized — way in which ethics policy is being developed by the DISD board. As a public entity, they should be accountable to the district and its many stakeholders for the decisions they make. But one can’t help but wonder whether the process of debating the ethics policy under the watchful eye of the media won’t distort the debate and, ultimately, the outcome.

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