MISD patrons demand Fain’s ouster

Petition seeking removal gains over 1,100 signatures; supporters push back

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Chalisa Fain

A little more than a year after an incident with undertones of race roiled the Midlothian community, the Midlothian ISD board of trustees finds itself once again handling controversy.

Some MISD parents and community members are up in arms over the school district’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and are demanding that Chalisa Fain either resign or be fired because of social media posts that these parents objected to.

This group has circulated a petition that has received more than 1,100 signatures. “Mrs. Fain only cares about protecting and promoting the black race,” the petition states in part.

The group addressed the MISD board of trustees at both the May 17 and June 21 regular monthly meetings. At the June meeting, about 10 individuals spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, taking up about an hour and 15 minutes.

In response, a smaller group of MISD parents has launched a petition drive in support of Fain on Change.org. As of this past weekend, their petition had gained about 350 signatures.

“In order to continue to promote cultural sensitivity, inclusion and diversity in our independent school district and community of Midlothian, we must support our trusted leader Chalisa Fain,” says a message on the petition’s web page. “We all know that change is difficult especially in communities that are growing very rapidly. As a community, we should embrace change and work towards a common goal that is specific to all members of the community regardless of their ethnic and demographic background.”

Fain, a law school graduate, was hired as the district’s first DEI director last August. The position was created in response to the uproar over the publication of pictures of a white school board member in blackface.

The June 1, 2020 revelation of these photos of trustee Tami Tobey in the alt-weekly Dallas Observer touched off a firestorm of controversy and mobilized minority members of the Midlothian community to demand Tobey’s resignation. However, the heat faded in a matter of weeks and Tobey easily won re-election to the board in November.

The group opposed to Fain object to social media posts that members of the group considered offensive, racist, anti-government and divisive. They also claim that Fain’s posts violated the MISD employee handbook code of conduct and use of electronic communications policy.

It appears Fain has deleted her social media accounts, but in a screen grab of a post from January, she inquired about recommendations for an HVAC repairman who was Black.

Members of the group also accuse the district of hiring Fain despite there being other, better-qualified candidates interviewed for the job, and claim Fain’s hiring was an “inside job” carried out by a “devious group that has crept into the district.” They also claim that Fain made her biases known during the job interview and that the district was lax in vetting her qualifications.

Group members are also frustrated that neither the board nor administrators have taken up their demand to date.

Monica Mote, a member of the group, told the Mirror that four members of the group met with new superintendent Dr. JoAnn Fey on June 28 and presented an entire binder full of documents, policies, and proof detailing their grievances.

“We did a very good job of emphasizing this is not about race,” Mote said. “This is about misconduct and violations from a district employee, and we expect the administration to enforce their own policies and hold every employee to the standards they are to abide by, set forth in the Employee Handbook.“

The next regular monthly meeting of the MISD board of trustees is scheduled for Monday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the boardroom at the L.A. Mills Administration Building at 100 Walter Stephenson Road.