For the first time in more than three decades, voters in the Fort Worth schools’ District 4 will have a new trustee on the Board of Education.
All three candidates to replace board mainstay T.A. Sims have a strong sense of what parents and students in the district, which is mostly in southeast Fort Worth, need. And while each has been active in the area’s schools, Daphne Brookins has a distinct edge in the kind of experience that helps make a trustee effective.
Brookins, 51, brings a wealth of civic involvement and professional experience to the contest. She’s a former Forest Hill mayor pro tempore and City Council member. She’s held a variety of volunteer service posts, including as a current member of a school district advisory committee.
Brookins offers a holistic sense of what families and students in District 4 need to ensure academic success. Her work as a youth administrator for Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County gives her expertise and connections to several organizations that can work as partners with the school district to improve students’ preparation for the working world, which she identifies as a priority at O.D. Wyatt High School, which serves both Fort Worth and part of suburban Forest Hill.
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Voters should be aware that Brookins is the recipient of a large campaign contribution from Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, the Austin-based law firm the district hires to oversee property tax collections.
We don’t think Brookins can be corrupted for a $1,500 donation. But the firm already has ample influence on the school board, from donations to ties to members. Linebarger’s connections were at the center of the board’s messy fight over watering down its ethics policy a few years ago.
It’s not a chapter the school district needs to revisit, so we encourage Brookins — and all trustees — to maintain their independence from FWISD contractors going forward.
Brookins’ two competitors bring admirable passion for improving student performance, but they can’t match her experience.
Rival Johnny Cook-Muhammad, 54, is a family program manager with past experience as a school employee. He’s focused on bolstering early education programs with an aim toward reducing dropout rates in the district, particularly among black and Latino male students. He unsuccessfully challenged Sims in 2017.
Candidate Terry D.T. Miles has Sims’ backing. Miles, a 51-year-old musician who’s extensively involved in the O.D. Wyatt Alumni Association, wants to improve access to mental health services for students.
These are important priorities, and they reflect a perception that the school administration’s attention on the district may have fallen off since Sims fell ill and resigned.
Brookins has the connections and experience to tackle such issues. As long as she guards her independence, we’re confident she’ll succeed.
The winner will serve the remainder of Sims’ term, until 2021. A runoff is possible if no candidate takes more than half the overall vote in the Nov. 5 election.