I returned to Austin to present my petition that I have been working on. The petition would require elected and appointed officials be required to take the STAAR test. I was encouraged by the conversation and tone our senators were taking. Then the Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, an attorney, gave his testimony. I found his statements disappointing, troubling and unproductive. Primarily, because of his complete lack of ownership in the test his department developed. His audacity to quickly lay the blame for the high failure rates solely at the feet of our educators and children was shocking.
This highlighted the adversarial role between our educators and the TEA and reinforced my conviction to see this unproductive relationship dismantled. Think how beneficial the STAAR test could be if we demanded its results were used to target the needs of students, teachers and schools. I was once one of those kids that would've had trouble with these tests. I was given a diagnostic test that determined I have dyslexia. That test did not punish me or my teacher for my disability; it got me the help I so desperately needed. I’m eternally grateful for the educational gift I was given.
What I said before the Texas Senate Education Committee:
We hope everyone is having a great extended Labor Day weekend. It's a great time to think about the contributions of American labor for the things we now take for granted - like weekends, living wages, and workplace safety.
These posts (every week or two) are a chance to share links to various stories elsewhere on the internet that we think might be of interest to our readers. Everything is on-topic for these posts, so feel free to leave a comment if something is on your mind.
The Lewisville ISD Education Foundation is hosting its “Fork and Pencil” fundraiser on Saturday, September 6th. Tickets are $75 per person or $130 per couple. Although the website does a poor job explaining exactly what it is, this is a sort of a gala dinner with live music, and catered by a variety of restaurants. There’s a silent auction too.
The Farmer football game Friday night against Rowlett was disappointing. The Farmers could have pulled off the win, but two bad snaps leading to a blocked punt killed those chances. But you couldn't ask for better weather Friday night, so it was hard to believe it's still August. Here's a Farmer Football Preview
Everything you need to know about trash service in Lewisville is on the city’s website. If you have a complaint about your trash pickup, please call Waste Management at 972.315.5400, because the rest of us are tired of hearing your bitching on social media. We have 22,000 households, and on any given week there will be problems, late pickups, misunderstood rules, etc. If all of them take to bitching on Facebook and Nextdoor, that’s all we’ll ever deal with, and the answer is always the same: Call Waste Management, and let them fix the problem.
In Ferguson, Missouri, court fines and fees add up to about 20% of the city’s budget, giving the city quite an incentive to get people tied up in the justice system. Incredibly, the judge keeps observers out of the court, and sometimes hears cases prior to the scheduled time, or locks the courthouse doors, resulting in people getting penalized for missing a court date.
For the past week, since Taylor Swift released her new single “Shake it Off”, it’s been a constant earworm. Dimensions Dance Company filmed a flash mob dance to this tune at a Lewisville Raising Canes restaurant, which resulted in Ms. Swift “hyperventilating”. If they had just invited me to show off some of my moves, I’m sure she would have needed a paper sack to breathe in.
An account has been set up for Mr. Freed, by some friends of the Freeds. The person heading this up is George Gober, long time resident of Lewisville. The money will be used strictly for Freed's court costs, attorney fees, defense investigators, and anything pertaining to his cost for defending himself. Those wanting to contribute can go to Ciera Bank in Flower Mound, 1801 Cross Timbers Rd. Make out checks to the Defense Fund for Brian Freed. any questions you can call Mr. Gober at 972-977-0618 and he will gladly answer any questions.
After discussion here at LTJ, we removed a story from the site and from our Facebook page today due to a very negative reaction in the community.
It's not often that we remove items from the site - especially when they are factual and fair, which we thought the article was. The reason we removed it is that the discussion on social media had vilified one of the unnamed people in the story to the point that the online discussion seemed like a lynch mob waiting to happen. The breaking point was when the discussion turned to personal bullying of others who expressed opposing viewpoints.
We do this service to spread the facts, and increase our community's understanding of one another and the institutions that make our community tick.
I'm just so incredibly disappointed right now to have had this forum and our work used in such a negative way.
Perhaps at some point, the story will come back into the archive, but for now we think it's best for all involved to cool off.
This story has been updated. Please see the update at the end.
By Steve Southwell
Lewisville mom Laura Stepp saw her son Kenneth get on the bus Wednesday morning at her apartment complex on SH 121 Business. From her rear view mirror, she saw him on the bus at 7:15 a.m., and figured it was safe to leave for work. What happened next turned into an hours-long ordeal for the 8 year old third-grader. Kenneth said the bus driver told him the bus was too full, and that he would have to get off. So, not knowing that his mother had already left, he tried going back to his apartment, which was locked. Not able to get in, he went to the apartment complex office, which wouldn’t open until 9. He says he saw another bus show up, but before he could get to it, the doors closed, and it left. Kenneth said he thought about crossing the busy SH 121 to walk to school, but that he decided against it.
Waiting alone at the office until it opened, the boy was taken in by the apartment manager, who attempted to contact Stepp, but only had her home phone number. The manager also contacted the boy’s school - Lewisville Elementary, who told them they would contact Durham Transportation (the school district’s bus vendor) and dispatch another bus. Time passed without a bus coming to get Kenneth, so Stepp says the school’s principal came and picked him up around 10:30.
Wednesday afternoon, Stepp posted about the story on the City of Lewisville Facebook page, where commenters almost immediately were up in arms over the incident. Stepp said she posted the story to see if anyone had ideas on how to handle it.
We contacted Durham Transportation Services manager Greg Newman, who explained that there is a legal limit on how many kids that a bus can carry. “It’s illegal to run a bus overcrowded,” he said, explaining that the normal procedure is for the bus driver to call in and dispatch an immediate backup bus. Newman said the bus driver would normally tell the kids to get off and wait there for the next bus, which would usually take “a couple minutes”. It’s this crucial instruction that Kenneth said he didn’t hear the bus driver say.
On Monday, August 18, Police Officer Tim O’Hare and Texas Department of Public Safety Corporal Dy Norng were recognized at a Lewisville City Council meeting for their official actions on April 24.
On April 24, Lewisville Dispatch received a call from a suicidal person and plotted the cellular caller around the intersection of the 121 Tollway and Interstate 35E. The Tollway Authority was also notified and dispatched State Troopers to the area. Lewisville Officer Tim O’Hare arrived and contacted a male sitting on a cross member between two bridges with his leg over the railing. The individual kept shifting his weight which made officers believe that the subject was, in fact, planning to jump. Officer O’Hare continued to engage the man while DPS Corporal Dy Norng approached the man from behind and shoved him at Officer O’Hare. Officer O’Hare quickly grabbed him in a bear hug and pulled the man to safety.
The Police Department’s Awards Committee met to review this incident and recommended Officer Timothy O’Hare and DPS Corporal Dy Norng receive the Life Saving Award. If not for their quick response and immediate actions, this individual would have most likely jumped to his death and possibly even hurt or killed others below. Pictured from left, are Police Chief Russ Kerbow, Officer Tim O’Hare, DPS Corporal Dy Norng, and Mayor Dean Ueckert.
Texas Department of State Health Services this week confirmed the city's fifth positive West Nile Virus mosquito trap for 2014. Three positive samples came from a trap collected this week from the 1700 block of Edmonds Lane, the site of the first confirmed sample last week. The fifth was confirmed from the 800 block of College Parkway.
Due to the history of positive tests in the area, plus a high-risk senior population living in a retirement center adjacent to the testing site, ground spraying was conducted this week in a half-mile radius of the Edmonds location. The spraying that took place Aug. 18-19 had a significant impact on the mosquito population.
Ground spraying will be conducted next week in a half-mile radius of the newest positive test site, on College Parkway. Spraying is scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 25-26, starting at 10 p.m. each night. A map of the spraying area is available on the city website, cityoflewisville.com.
City crews are regularly walking through and visually inspecting creeks and drainage channels to look for potential mosquito breeding sites. The city has nearly a dozen workers in the Parks and Animal Services divisions who are state-certified to apply anti-larval dunks or localized pesticide to curb the mosquito population. Residents also are encouraged to report standing water on city-maintained property by calling Lewisville Animal Control at 972.219.3478.
The Texas Department of Health operates a toll-free WNV information line in both English and Spanish at 888.883.9997, and has expanded information posted on its Web site at tdh.state.tx.us. Denton County Health Department also has online information about West Nile virus or you can call 940.349.2907.
Monday is the first day back to school for the 2014/15 school year in Lewisville ISD. Since residents have been out of the habit of driving in school zones for the summer, the Lewisville Police Department wants residents to be mindful of school zone speeds and keep their eyes on the road instead of on their mobile devices. Crossing guards will be on duty, and drivers are required to obey their signals.
Areas in and around schools will be very congested before and after school. You should consider an alternate route or allowing extra time if you travel near a school during the drop-off and pick-up times, particularly the first week of school.
School Zones Be mindful of students heading to and from school. The Lewisville Police Department is increasing officer presence in school zones and around bus stops. Chief Kerbow, referring to the school zone flashing lights, says “pay attention to the yellow lights before you see the red and blue.”
School zone times are determined based on the schools they serve. Elementary Schools: 7:15 am – 8:15 am and 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm Middle Schools: 8:00 am – 9:00 am and 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm School Zones protecting both Elementary: 7:15 am – 9:00 am and 2:45 pm – 4:45 pm High Schools: 7:45 am – 8:30 am and 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
The school zone at Garden Ridge and Bellaire has unique times compared to the other school zones within the city, because it mirrors the contiguous school zones within Flower Mound. The school zone in that area of Garden Ridge and Bellaire runs from 7:00 am to 8:00 am in the mornings and 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm in the afternoons.
Passing a Stopped School Bus The Texas Transportation Code says that a driver must stop, when approaching from either direction before reaching a school bus displaying alternately flashing red lights. Drivers are not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction on a divided roadway. The fine for passing a school bus is $878.
Crossing Guards The school crossing guards are part of the police department family and work very hard to keep the children safe. A Lead Crossing Guard supervises 34 guards. The Lead Crossing Guard reports to the Traffic Sergeant. The authority of crossing guards is granted by the transportation code. The school crossing guards work in extreme weather and heavy traffic. The police department says they will not tolerate drivers disregarding theschool crossing guards. Please look out for them as they look out for the kids.
Cell Phones The Texas Transportation Code says that a driver may not use a cell phone while driving in a school zone unless: the vehicle is stopped, the device is hands-free, or the driver is making an emergency call to fire, police, or for a medical emergency.