District goes casual with summer dress code

Due to the re-entry process and working both remotely and on-site, this year the district will implement a summer casual dress code. One of the changes in casual attire for this summer is that employees are allowed to wear jeans and sneakers as long as they meet dress code standards.

The goal is for all employees to continue to present a professional image to students, parents, and community members while also being comfortable as they perform their normal work duties. However, during specific occasions and for formal meetings, employees will be expected to abandon the casual look in favor of business attire. Standards for daily attire are still at the discretion of the supervisor. The dress code guidelines apply whether the interaction takes place in person or in a virtual setting.

Employees should choose clothing that is comfortable and neatly put together that communicates professionalism. Casual may differ based on the various business needs of the department, so consult with your department supervisor to determine appropriate attire for your job. All clothing should be clean, pressed and wrinkle-free, without holes or frayed areas.

Unacceptable attire includes slippers and flip flops, sweatpants, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, spandex, Lycra, tank tops and shirts with inappropriate messages/graphics.

For additional details about the district’s appropriate and inappropriate summer casual attire, download the memo.


Uber thanks educators with special promo

Uber and the City of Dallas are recognizing the work of educators during the last days of the school year with a special code for a free meal.

The promo code for a free meal is valued at $25 (not including taxes and service fees) and is limited to one redemption per user. It expires May 31.

Use the promo code dallascityhallfirstresponders on the Uber Eats app. Simply open the app, add to the cart, and when you are ready to place the order, tap Add Promo Code and type in the code.

For questions about the code or how to apply it, contact social-impact-support@uber.com.


Take a walk on the virtual wild side

Dallas ISD’s STEM Environmental Education Center offers virtual teacher-led field trips for students. During these virtual trips, experienced teachers and naturalists will provide students with interactive opportunities to explore prairie, forest, and freshwater ecosystems, study fossils, visit a working barn with a variety of livestock, meet live amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds, tour gardens, and more. The virtual field trips at the STEM EEC are fully aligned to the TEKS for science. Trips will be live streamed through Google Meet and will last 45 minutes. For more information about virtual field trips at the STEM EEC, please email eec@dallasisd.org.

District announces leadership appointments

In an effort to better align work and support for schools and staff, Dallas ISD is announcing several leadership appointments that will be effective July 1.

Robert Abel • Deputy Chief of Human Capital Management

As assistant superintendent, Robert Abel has overseen several areas of Dallas ISD’s human resources, such as central and campus staffing, employee relations, HRIS, background checks, certification, employee records, and substitutes. During his four-year tenure with the district, he has served on a variety of local and regional committees and task forces. Prior to coming to Dallas ISD, Abel was division director of High Schools/Support Services at Irving ISD, where he supervised all aspects of the district’s five high schools, newcomer center, alternative education programs, career development center, and other areas. Abel brings more than 20 years of experience in education to his role as deputy chief. He earned a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Education from The University of Texas at Arlington.


Derek Little • Deputy Chief of Academics (Programs)

Derek Little has served as the assistant superintendent for early learning since 2016, in which role he has led the district’s early childhood efforts to ensure that every kindergartner is ready for school and every second grader is reading on grade level. Prior to Dallas ISD, Little served as the deputy director of early childhood at the Louisiana Department of Education, where he led policy planning for funding, accountability, enrollment, workforce and governance of early childhood programs. Previously, Little was the director of finance and operations for the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a master’s degree in finance from Tulane University. He has also earned master’s degrees in educational leadership from Northwestern State University and the Broad Center for Urban Education and is currently pursuing a doctorate from Southern Methodist University.


Tiffany Huitt • Deputy Chief of Academics (Content)

Tiffany Huitt has served as executive director of magnet schools in School Leadership after spending five years as the principal of the School of Science and Engineering at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center, one of the top high schools in the country. She began her career in Dallas in 1999 as a science teacher at the Dallas Environmental Science Academy. Since then, she has worked as lead science teacher and instructional coach while also developing science curriculum assessments and professional development for K-12 science courses. She serves on local and state committees, such as TEA Science Standards TEKS Revisions Committee and the Leadership Council for the Global Learning Network. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Paul Quinn College and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary sciences from The University of Texas at Arlington.


Sean Brinkman • Assistant Superintendent in Information Technology

Sean Brinkman has served as technical director of Information Technology Enterprise Applications since 2017 and has been responsible for managing and evolving all aspects related to Dallas ISD’s enterprise application portfolio and execution of IT application projects. Prior to his work in Information Technology, Brinkman served in various positions in School Leadership where he analyzed and used data to provide professional development and resource allocation and integrated system-wide activities with other departments to meet targets. Brinkman started in Dallas ISD in 1999 as a classroom teacher. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Northwestern State University and a principal certification from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.



Getting to know Yesenia Cardoza Ramirez

Yesenia Cardoza Ramirez
Director | Family and Community Engagement in Early Learning
Teaching and Learning
Years in the position: 4
Years in Dallas ISD: 17

What do you do in your position?
I oversee the prekindergarten registration and enrollment for the district, and I work with family engagement partnerships in the community. Last year, we enrolled almost 13,000 3- and 4-year-old students. Part of my work involves creating the systems that help families register and supporting the campuses so they can support parents.

This year, everything was online. The form has been online in the past, but parents had to go to campus and bring the required documentation, and the campus would let them know if they qualified. Because of the closure due to the pandemic, we made modifications so parents could upload all documents before submitting the application. We are processing everything centrally and still communicating with our families. Families can visit www.PKdallas.org to apply and can call the hotline—(214) 932-7735—if they have any questions or if they need our help to walk them through the process.

What do you enjoy most/what is your favorite thing about what you do in your position?
Working with families. That was also my favorite part when I was a principal prior to this. Even when I was a teacher, my passion has been to be able to help parents so they are able to educate the kids but also to know what is needed. I love connecting with parents, collaborating, showing them activities. Every role I have been in from being a sub to now I have enjoyed working with parents. Part of it is because my parents are from Mexico and my mom didn’t even finish middle school. They weren’t really involved in school beyond paying dues to PTA so they never knew I was dyslexic. As a single mom, I had to learn how to support my son if I couldn’t go to the school. That’s why working with parents— get them to come to the classroom, to learn about how they can be involved, what they can learn themselves—it started to become a passion for me.

What was your favorite cafeteria food growing up?
I went to Dallas ISD schools and our kids graduated or are currently going to Dallas ISD schools. My favorite one was these burritos that used to be wrapped in plastic. It was just meat and cheese, but they were great. Fiesta salad was another favorite.

What is the best advice ever given to you by a teacher?
My science teacher in high school. He was really a teacher who had a passion for teaching kids. I remember him talking to me when I was struggling, being a Hispanic female in school. He told me education is key to anything you want in the future and no one can ever take a degree away from you. He was really passionate about that. It took me 10 years to get my first degree and a year for my master’s.

When you take notes during a meeting—paper or electronic? Or is it all in your head?
Electronic. I’m dyslexic, so I hate writing.

What is your favorite app or the app you first open every day?
Pinterest. I look at it every day, and say to myself, “I wish I had time. I would make that.”

What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Having a sense of humor and being there to be supportive.

What is your idea of happiness?
For me, happiness is family. I think the coronavirus has brought us more together and given us more time to be together. Whether my parents, husband or kids, being able to spend that time with each other has made me be happy. If kids do chores, it’s even better.

Central staff begins return to the office

The safety and well-being of all staff and visitors are a priority for Dallas ISD as the district begins to shift from working at home to working in the office, starting Monday, June 1. Staff returning to the various central administration buildings should expect new practices and protocols designed to ensure that all employees and visitors in district facilities feel safe and secure to effectively navigate the complexities of a “new normal.”

The measures being implemented include more frequent sanitizing of public and work areas, access to hand sanitizer throughout the building, and flexible work schedules to avoid large congregations of people. A handbook detailing specific measures will be available next week.


Safety measures

One of the measures that will be implemented is no-contact temperature checks as employees arrive to park. Those whose temperature falls below 100.6° F will be able to park and enter the building. Employees should arrive 30 minutes prior to their start time to allow time for the screening process.

A building occupancy rate of only 25% will be allowed during the re-entry process. Upon entry, staff will be asked to wear a facemask and gloves in all public areas. Use of elevators will be monitored to ensure that social distancing guidelines are observed. Gathering in common areas will be discouraged. The cooperation of all staff in maintaining a safe environment as the district and the community continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 is appreciated.

The building, offices, and workstations will undergo a frequent germ blasting and intensive cleaning, which requires that staff and visitors be clear of the building no later than 7 p.m. No exceptions will be granted. Operation Services will post, in a designated area, the last date the building has been treated with a germ blast.


Summer schedule and dress code

District central buildings will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The summer schedule, which begins June 1, will allow for a combination of remote and on-site work. Whether working from home or in the office, central staff employees will work a four-day workweek, and the district will close on Fridays.

Central office hours during the summer will be staggered between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Start/arrival times of 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., and 8:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday will be in effect. Supervisors may allow employees to work a schedule other than the four-day workweek if the change does not negatively affect department functions. Whether working from home or the office, employees are responsible for consulting with their supervisor to determine the start and end times of their daily work schedule during the summer. Please see the official summer work schedule memo. Staff who is working from Dallas ISD offices must observe the district’s dress code, which is detailed in this memo. The memo includes some changes in the dress code like employees being able to wear denim jeans and sneakers during the summer.


Monthly Employees

  • Employees paid monthly will work the four-day workweek from June 1 through July 31.
  • Monthly employees will resume their regular work hours on Aug. 3.

Biweekly Employees

  • Employees paid biweekly will work a four-day workweek from June 5 through Aug. 6.
  • Biweekly employees will NOT work on June 5 if they participate in the four-day workweek.
  • Biweekly employees who participate in the four-day workweek will resume their regular hours on Aug. 7.

Employees will be required to certify their attendance. [See DK(REGULATION)] Exempt employees must communicate and check in daily with their supervisors. Additional information regarding certifying of attendance while working remotely, on-site or a combination of both will be forthcoming in future communications. The check-in procedure will be at the discretion of the supervisor.

Nonexempt employees and rehired retirees will be able to check in and check out using one of the following procedures:

  • Biometric clock
  • Onsite computer workstation (Additional information on this option will be provided by the Payroll Services department.)
  • Attendance form


Summer break

The district will be closed for summer break from June 29 through July 3. An employee will not be permitted to work at home or in the office for pay while the district is closed unless the employee has received prior written approval from his or her department chief.

All central staff employees will return to work on July 6. While building capacity limits are in place, an employee will continue to work a combination of on-site and remote work. The situation is monitored continually for guidance from city, county and state health officials.

If an employee takes additional time off, the supervisor is responsible for ensuring the attendance form is submitted. The total hours of the workweek may be a combination of both on-site work and at-home work, based on the employee’s work arrangement with his or her supervisor.

Benefits: It’s never too early

It’s never too early to start thinking about your benefits. Annual Benefits Enrollment—July 15 from Aug. 21—is your opportunity to review your current benefits and enroll or make changes for the new plan year. While enrollment is passive again this year, you must enroll if you want to participate in the Sick Leave Bank and/or contribute to a Flexible Spending Account.

Changes for 2020-2021

  • Dallas ISD will introduce enhancements to several benefits with new plan options and new carriers.
  • TRS announced Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas will administer the TRS-ActiveCare plans and will introduce the new lower-premium TRS-Active Care Primary plan that requires you to select a primary care provider to coordinate your care.

Updated Benefits Website

An updated dallasisd.org/benefits website is coming soon, with all the benefits information you need in one place.

Watch for more benefit details coming soon.

Teachers: Level up on learning

This summer, Dallas ISD teachers can LEVEL UP their skill and knowledge in a variety of areas as well as earn prizes and CPE credit hours through virtual learning opportunities offered by the district.

The areas covered by the training opportunities include specific content, whole child development, technology integration, and meeting the needs of all students and can unlock new abilities and skills, and provide access to new digital resources. Teachers will be able to learn through collaboration and reflect on and share their learning.

Weekly Incentives

While teachers explore and diversify, their participation in sessions can earn them an entry into weekly drawings to earn prizes and unlock access to resources from departments hosting the sessions. When teachers collaborate and reflect in our Twitter contest (@PDL_DallasISD), they have an opportunity to enter into a grand prize drawing from the district. The more teachers tweet about their Level Up learning using #levelupDallasISD, the more chances they have to win.

Continuing Professional Education Credit

The Texas Education Agency requires teachers complete 150 CPE hours to maintain certification. Those who participate in the Level Up training opportunities can earn CPE credit hours that may be used for continuing professional education hours to meet the 150 CPE requirement. These hours may not be substituted or flexed for professional learning days during the 2020-2021 school year. For the 2020-2021 school year, teachers are not required to attend 21 credit hours of professional development outside their work calendar to meet their contractual obligation. Instead, five professional development days have been built into the teachers’ work calendar.

Summer offerings from Dallas ISD’s departments in Level Up will be entered into the district’s learning management system and maintained on the electronic transcript.

For additional information, contact Professional and Digital Learning at PDL@dallasisd.org or visit our webpage at www.dallasisd.org/levelup.



Building libraries at home

In an effort to empower elementary students to continue engaging in reading activities during the COVID-19 quarantine, the Early Learning Department is collaborating with Scholastic to send five books to every Dallas ISD elementary student.

“We recognize there’s a need of helping students and families who lack access to libraries, especially in these challenging times and we want to help build libraries at homes for elementary students so they continue to engage and strengthen their reading foundation,” said Jennifer Burchfiel, Director for Early Learning.

The books will be mailed to the students’ homes in packets, which will also include a journal, thinking sheets and a family engagement guide. Students will receive books based on their language of instruction.

The packets will also include a letter for each family, encouraging parents to make reading activities a family affair.

“Building libraries at home will be key to reducing the slowdown of reading among students who are at a critical age of building a strong foundation that will lead them to academic success,” said Burchfiel.

Technology aids in teacher recruitment

Having to suddenly shift gears to ensure important work continues is never easy. Having to do so in the face of a global pandemic that led to a swift stop of in-person meetings is harder. But Dallas ISD’s recruitment team continued undaunted with its efforts to continue to recruit the best teachers, librarians, and teacher assistants for Dallas’ students.

Whether holding virtual job fairs to facilitate principals interviewing applicants to holding virtual interviews, Human Capital Management has maintained this crucial function to be ready for the 2020-2021 school year.

Madina Sultanova, who was recently hired virtually as a chemistry teacher at Hillcrest High School, enjoyed the interview and hiring process and was impressed with the recruitment team’s responsiveness.

“Everything went smoothly,” said Sultanova, who is currently a high school algebra teacher in Odessa. “I liked how organized it was. The communication was really good, and human resources and recruitment reached out and helped bridge the communications with the principals. It seemed almost like I interviewed in person.”

She would recommend anyone interested in teaching in Dallas to not let the thought of a virtual hiring process stop them from applying. In fact, Dallas ISD’s increased use of technology during the recruitment process and other areas is what attracted her to the district.

“I’m looking forward to incorporating more technology in the classroom,” she said. “The students have access to laptops from the district and we can use other types of tech like Google classroom, which I like to use but hasn’t always been available.”