Stella M. Chávez | KERA News

Stella M. Chávez

Reporter/Blogger

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.

Ways to Connect

Update, 6:20 p.m.: Former Dallas schools Chief of Staff Jerome Oberlton was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday after pleading not guilty to charges of accepting kickbacks while he worked for Atlanta Public Schools.

Mahendra Patel, Oberlton's partner in the scheme they're both accused of participating in, also was released on bond, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

KERA News

DISD says  nearly 300 teachers received termination notices today after a school board vote last night.

Seven of the nine board members voted in favor of terminating the teachers and two DISD principals. Trustees Carla Ranger and Bernadette Nutall cast the dissenting votes.

The principals are being fired under a controversial  plan by Superintendent Mike Miles that requires them to meet new benchmarks.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Seven of the nine Dallas school board trustees voted to terminate the principals of Madison and Roosevelt high schools Thursday night.

Update, 3:59 p.m.: Rockwall ISD's buses for secondary school students will be delayed up to 45 minutes.

Update, 3:48 p.m.: Mesquite ISD will release its high school students at 4 p.m.; buses running 30 minutes later than normally scheduled. 

Update, 3:45 p.m.: Plano ISD says most activities will continues as schedule but asks parents to check with their students' individual campuses.

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD also reports that all after-school activities will continue as normally scheduled.

CSCOPE, an online curriculum system used by nearly 80 percent of Texas school districts, will be a thing of the past, Senator Dan Patrick and other Republican state lawmakers announced Monday. The decision follows concerns raised by some conservative groups that the curriculum promoted anti-American values.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Among the challenges that many school districts face is the number of economically disadvantaged students and, in some cases, kids without a steady home.

One class in the Fort Worth Independent School District decided to tackle this problem, and they did it with style.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Dallas city leaders announced on Tuesday a new partnership aimed at improving blighted and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Economic Partners Investing in Communities, or EPIC, includes the Dallas Police Department, GrowSouth, Safer Dallas Better Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.

Bickel & Brewer Storefront is suing the Grand Prairie Independent School District claiming its at-large election system violates the Voting Rights Act and denies Latino voters fair representation.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Irving School Board is taking a new direction after Saturday night’s election. Randy Randle, Lee A. Mosty and Norma C. Gonzales – allies of censured trustee Steven Jones – won their respective seats.

Among the changes Randle wants is for immigrant children to learn English through immersion instead of the current bilingual program. Randle defeated Mike Gregory for District 7.

BdwayDiva1 / Flickr

A record number of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college last fall outpacing their white counterparts, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Using U.S. Census data, the study found that seven in 10 Hispanic students, or 69 percent, who graduated in 2012 went on to college compared to 67 percent of white students.

Six candidates are running for three seats on the Irving Independent School Board. 

KERA has reported that the election could lead to a shift of philosophy among a majority of board members and that may lead to significant changes for Irving schools.

KERA asked candidates about their qualifications, changes they support for the district and their perspective on charter schools.

Irving ISD Place 5

Manny Benevidez   Did not respond.

Gwen Craig

·        Age:  63

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Some local groups are squaring off over Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles' plan to evaluate principals and terminate those who aren't measuring up.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Dallas NAACP members and other community leaders said Miles must go.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Southwest Airlines is teaming up with the Trinity Trust Foundation and City of Dallas to create the Trinity River Conservation Corps. With the help of a three-year, $150,00 grant, this new program will help clean up and conserve the Trinity River Corridor.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Second graders at Seguin Elementary School in Grand Prairie have a message for their peers in West ISD.

“We’re with you” and “You’re in our prayers.”

The messages were written on "gingerbread people" that the children made out of butcher paper this week. Moms laid down on the paper as their children traced them. They worked together to decorate the imaginary figures with hearts and smiles and then wrote words of encouragement.

George W. Bush Presidential Center

Final update, 11:40 a.m.: The dedication ceremony for the Bush Presidential Center at SMU wrapped up without any major incidents. The four other presidents who spoke praised George W. Bush for his service, citing examples such as his work in Africa and his response after 9-11.

DISD

Rene Barajas, who became the Dallas Independent School District’s Chief Financial Officer in January, has resigned to return to his former school district in Garland.

Superintendent Mike Miles made the announcement on Wednesday in a press release saying that Barajas is going to be Garland ISD’s Deputy Superintendent of Business Operations. Before going to DISD, Barajas spent five years as Garland ISD’s chief financial officer.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Update, Saturday, 11:15 a.m.: Thinking about taking a carload or truckload of supplies to help out the people of West? Don't. The little town is overwhelmed with donations of goods and clothing. Folks sorting through all the donations tell KERA's BJ Austin they've run out of room. The Dallas Morning News reports that cash is the most important thing needed right now.  There are plenty of other ways you can help, too. Here are a few:

Joe Berti

Joe Berti has had an unbelievable week. And one in which he’s counting his blessings that he's alive.

On Monday, Berti finished running the Boston Marathon minutes before the bombs went off. His wife, Amy, was standing near the finish line, yards from the first blast. Two days later, as he drove from Dallas to Austin, he saw – and photographed – the explosion in the Central Texas town of West.

David Gray, Director of External Affairs for the EPA, issued a statement to KERA that the agency conducted an inspection of the West Fertilizer Co.'s risk management plan on March 16, 2006, during which it found a number of deficiencies. It fined the plant $2,300 on August 14, 2006 and ordered the facility to correct the problems identified during the inspection.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the wife of ex-Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams has been charged with capital murder and is being held in the Kaufman County jail. Kim Williams was admitted before 3 a.m. Wednesday and is being held on a $10 million bond, according to the report.

Melissa Bishop

Like many runners around the country today, North Texas residents are showing their support and honoring the victims of yesterday's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, runners in groups like the Dallas Running Club are calling on their cohorts to wear one of their race t-shirts today.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Update, 2:55 p.m.: Sgt. Lonny Haschel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said 44 people were taken to area hospitals after this morning's charter bus crash that left two dead. The names of the passengers who died and the driver, who was among the injured, have not been released.

Investigators are still at the scene and mapping out the area where the crash occurred. Sgt. Haschel said it's too early to say what caused the accident. "It's going to be a long process," he said. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A teacher who turns his class assignments into an iBook. Students who develop apps for mobile devices. QR codes that direct students to their teacher’s home page.

These are just some examples of how some students are learning and keeping up to date with the latest technology. Gone are the days of a teacher standing in front of a classroom lecturing students. These days, students are using their smart phone or laptops.

Horia Varlan / Flickr

The first two-day Summit on the Education of African American Students in DISD this past weekend got people thinking and talking about one of the most pressing issues, but the real challenge will be what comes out of that conversation, say those who attended.

“It’s always a great exercise to have a discussion about education, and it’s always a great exercise to talk about the inequities, but to me what’s most important is the action,” says Sherasa Thomas, a former teacher who now works as an education consultant for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Lisa Krantz for The Texas Tribune

Dozens of teachers on Thursday attended a recruiting fair hosted by the City of San Antonio at the Dallas Public Library.

The lure? A potential job teaching pre-K students and the chance to earn between $60,000 and $90,000 a year.

KERA reporter Bill Zeeble

Update, Tuesday, 8:05 p.m.: Citing security concerns, a federal prosecutor in Houston has decided to remove himself from a large racketeering case involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang.

PBS NewsHour

Can babies teach kids about empathy and bullying? A program in Seattle aims to do just that. As part of public media's American Graduate initiative, PBS NewsHour spotlights children in one elementary school classroom who are learning how to treat others. The teacher: a seven-month old baby girl.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at Southern Methodist University has been suspended for two years from campus. The suspension comes after the alleged assault of a member of another faternity at the Sigma Phi house.

Parents, students and teachers in Fort Worth ISD can now stay digitally connected with the district and its schools. The district has launched a new free mobile app for smartphones.

DISD

Update: Cause Of Death

The Dallas County medical examiner's office on Friday ruled the Mount Auburn Elementary School student's death accidental due to food asphyxia. The boy has been identified as Manny Ramirez.

Our Original Post: 

A four-year-old boy died Thursday morning after choking on his lunch at school.

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