Residents Attend Midlothian ISD Board Meeting Demanding Change
Midlothian-June 16- Prior to Monday evening’s Midlothian School Board meeting, a number of police were onsite near Midlothian High School. Protesters and residents stood outside the school calling for ISD school Place 6 Board Trustee Tami Tobey to resign.
Tobey dressed up on twice in the past – once in 2010 and once in 2012. On one occasion she dressed as Serena Williams and at a another Halloween party dressed as a black maid from the award-winning movie “The Help.”
Symphony Lowe, one of the founders of “Midlothians for Change” said she is happy to be moving the racism issue along in Midlothian.
“This was not a decision she [Tobey] made just once, but twice and we only know about these two times. The district has a lot of issues – race relations – that they need to deal with. They obviously cannot move forward with this particular woman – Tobey – on the school board.”
Is Anybody Listening?
Lowe said before the school board meeting started Monday night she believes if Tobey does stay on the school board and does not step down it will serve as a constant reminder of how the school district views racism.
“I hope she is listening to somebody and is going to resign,” Lowe added.
Resident Timothy Fitten who was also outside the building where the school board was soon to hear if Tobey would resign said “We are really concerned about the direction the school board is headed starting with the leadership and lack of accountability.”
Fitten has two children in Midlothian ISD and a third to begin in a few years. As a specialist who travels around the county educating individuals about diversity and inclusion training for the FAA, he said “Midlothian does not have a diversity problem because you can see diversity, what you don’t see is inclusiveness. So that is the problem, not diversity.”
By Fitten’s calculation, the population in Midlothian is majority white with a very low percent minority. However, He said when you look at he believes the school population to be 60+ percent white, 20+ percent Hispanic, 6.1 percent African American and another five percent making up other minority groups.
“The growth of Midlothian has changed in the last five years,” Fitten explained. “When I first came here there were not a lot of people of color, but you are going to see a lot more black and brown individuals in the school district now. So, having someone – whether it happened in the past, yesterday or anytime, is unacceptable.”
Midlothian ISD School Board Response Was Lacking
Fitten said he is most concerned about why the school board did not come out more strongly when it was reported to have happened. While he said he realized Tobey could not be fired, he was disappointed the school board did not have a stronger statement about the incident.
An article and a photo of Ms. Tobey and two other people appeared in the Dallas Observer in late May. A statement by school board president Matt Sanders was issued on Monday, June 1. An article publishing Sanders statement as well as a statement by Ms. Tobey were both published in the Tuesday, June 2 edition of Focus Daily News. Those statements both appeared in social media on Facebook as well, as they did on the Focus Daily News Facebook page.
“I have talked to all but two school board members individually in the last two weeks including Ms. Tobey and [she] regretted it happened and regrets that she did it. It was a lack of knowledge on her end,” Fitten said “but everyone that spoke at the meeting a few weeks ago, the emergency session said they were against it.”
Proactive Servant Leadership
Fitten said he is looking for more proactive servant leadership role from the school board trustees instead of reactive servant leadership.
“We have asked Ms. Tobey to resign individually and our citizens group Midlothian for Change has asked Ms. Tobey to resign and she said she will not resign in her words until her God tells her to resign she won’t resign,” Fitten explained. “I respect everyone’s relationship with their higher authority, so I am not going to tell her what to do I just know from a community standpoint the community is in a place of healing.”
He suggested she step down and if she is reelected in the election in November, then Fitten said that says something about the community and they are willing to give her a chance to move forward. *The election postponed originally scheduled for May but changed due to COVID-19.
Tired Of Being Quiet
Waxahachie resident Ana Hernandez whose children are zoned for Midlothian ISD attended the protest. She has two elementary school age children.
She said she signed a petition asking Tobey to resign.
“I felt like it was important to be here tonight to have my voice heard,” Hernandez said. “I think this is really an opportunity for the district to take action and for the board to take action as well. My hope is that it is not just about attacking trustee Tobey without considering the role the board can play. It is like okay this is a situation that has occurred what do we do now. Let’s not just treat it as an isolated incident.”
Hernandez’s question was how to capitalize on this moment to do good and to hear the communities of color within Midlothian instead of just ignoring them. Or, “making us out to be emotional and overly focused on race,” she added. “I think this is an opportunity to drag that conversation forward.”
“In a town so small people sometimes get scared. I have been quiet for so long I am tired of being quiet. Now I know that my voice does matter here and there are other people that believe in the same values that I have. They know it is time that we call out racism every single time and demand change. I am happy to be here today and happy to move this along.”