Free legal e-clinic

Volunteer attorneys with the Dallas Bar Association will answer legal questions at no cost from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays during September through a LegalLine E-Clinic.

To participate, complete the online form found here A volunteer attorney will call the registered participant to provide up to 15 minutes of free legal advice for a legal issue. Space is limited, and registration closes at noon the Tuesday prior to the clinic. 

Please note that the volunteer attorney will remain anonymous. Participants should watch for a call from an unknown number that should be labeled “No Caller ID” or something similar. No attorney-client relationship will be established. We cannot guarantee that the attorney will speak any language other than English. Individuals may also receive referrals to local, legal, or social service agencies.

For legal assistance any time, contact the DBA’s Lawyer Referral Service at

Dress for Success

Even though it may still be warm and sunny outside, Dallas ISD has returned to regular dress code to promote a professional atmosphere and maintain the positive image that employees present as representatives of the district. This image is affected by the manner of dress within the workplace and in public.

The district’s dress code policy is designed to help employees provide a consistent professional appearance to colleagues, students, parents, and the community. Employees should exemplify the highest standards of professional appearance.

To help guide employees in determining appropriate attire for the workplace, below are the business dress code guidelines outlined in DH(LOCAL) and DH(REGULATION).


  • The dress code standards are meant to maintain an orderly educational environment and will not infringe on an individual’s culture, religious beliefs, or protected free speech.
  • The dress and grooming of District employees shall be clean, neat, in a manner appropriate for their assignments, and in accordance with any additional standards established by their supervisors and approved by the Superintendent of Schools.
  • Employees are expected to exemplify proper grooming standards and personal hygiene in a manner that projects a professional image for the employees and the district.
  • Employees shall keep their hair and facial hair groomed neatly.
  • Employees will not be allowed to display any jewelry, tattoos, brands, or similar artifacts that are either obscene, distracting or may cause disruptions to the educational environment.

 Acceptable Attire

  • Clothing should be clean, pressed, and wrinkle-free.
  • Attire should fit appropriately (not excessively tight or loose).
  • Dress pants, dress shirts, and blouses are acceptable.
  • Professional dresses and skirts are acceptable.
  • Professional footwear is required at all times.
  • Employees required to wear District-issued uniforms are expected to wear the assigned uniform.

 Unacceptable Attire

Unacceptable attire includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Form-fitting, snug, sagging, or transparent clothing.
  • Excessively worn, faded, or tight clothing is not acceptable.
  • Clothing with holes or frayed areas is not acceptable.
  • Revealing or provocative attire is not acceptable.
  • Necklines that expose cleavage are not acceptable.
  • Dresses and skirts shorter than three inches above the bend of the knee are not acceptable.
  • Jeans, sweatpants, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, spandex, and Lycra are not acceptable.
  • Tank tops, t-shirts, and shirts with inappropriate messages/graphics are not acceptable.
  • Athletic wear and beach wear are not acceptable.
  • Slippers, flip-flops, house shoes, sneakers, and athletic shoes are not acceptable.
  • Hats are not to be worn inside, unless used as protective wear appropriate for one’s job function.


  • Administrators will have the discretion to make exceptions to appropriateness of attire as it relates to culture, religious beliefs, vocational courses, physical education, maintenance, medical necessities, events, and spirit days.
  • The Superintendent of Schools may waive the dress code for District employees when school is not in session or based on seasonal weather conditions, special events, and the like.

 Reference: DH(LOCAL) and DH(REGULATION)

 For questions or comments, please contact Policy and Compliance at

Celebrating Attendance Awareness Month: Show Up! Attendance Matters

Dallas ISD is celebrating Attendance Awareness Month during September to promote strong, consistent attendance habits that will set students up for success at all grade levels. 

The theme for the 2022-2023 school year is “Show up! Attendance Matters.” Parent Services has coordinated several exciting competitions and activities for students and staff to help build routines, increase engagement, provide access to resources and support learning. 

Weekly kickoffs 

Each Wednesday throughout the month, central and campus staff are encouraged to participate in weekly attendance awareness kickoffs. The four themes are “Shining the Light on Attendance” on Sept. 7, “Dallas ISD with a Western Twist” on Sept. 14, “Dress Up! Represent Your Culture” on Sept. 21 and “Character Celebrity Day” on Sept. 28. Pick out your best costume, and come ready to motivate students!

Districtwide champion school competition

Every school across the district will compete against campuses on their specific calendar—base, Intersession or SDR—to determine which school has the best overall attendance rate in the month of September. One campus from each calendar type will be declared the “Champion School.” 

Aim for perfect attendance

Students with a perfect attendance record throughout September will be entered into a raffle for a special prize. One student will be selected from each trustee district, so help us spread the word to get students involved. 

Social media challenge

Get creative to help our communities #ShowUpDallasISD.  Schools and departments are invited to create a 60-second video about the importance of school attendance and upload it on social media using the hashtag #ShowUpDallasISD. The video with the most likes, shares and tweets will receive a prize. Click here for a full list of rules and guidelines.

“Attendance has an impact on students’ academic performance and success in the long run, so from the minute that a student is actually enrolled in school, we want to help them create good attendance habits,” said Sally Salinas with Parent Services. “Our main goal is not only to focus on attendance during the month of September, but to continue the momentum throughout the school year.” 

To learn more about the district’s Attendance Awareness Month campaign or to find additional resources, visit Parent Services at

Bond 2020 update: Schools supporting schools 

Students and staff at Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School are celebrating their first full school year at their new $26.5 million home, which was funded by the 2015 bond program, and they are not alone in their transition. About 450 students from John Quincy Adams Elementary School will be joining them as neighbors on the former Nathaniel Hawthorne campus for two years while their own school is under construction.

“I am grateful that we are able to support our students, because at one point there were conversations to divide John Quincy Adams’ students into different campuses,” said Ana Fernandez, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s principal. “Just knowing that they are together, that they don’t have to lose that ownership of who they are as students, I’m really happy.”

John Quincy Adams will receive a replacement school thanks to the 2020 bond, which provided $3.2 billion to fund repairs and upgrades to more than 200 of the district’s 230 campuses. While the John Quincy Adams community awaits their future ribbon cutting ceremony, they are enjoying their temporary home at the former Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The transition has been running smoothly so far. Student Transportation Services teams are picking up John Quincy Adams’ students from their former campus and delivering them safely to their temporary home each day, and the two schools developed a staggered arrival and dismissal schedule to prevent traffic jams. 

Even better, art and music teachers from the two schools are collaborating across the campuses to bring exciting new activities to their students and to create relationship-building opportunities.

Fernandez said the community support has been amazing since the beginning. The two schools organized several community meetings and social media announcements to prepare their families for the transition. After seeing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s new campus, students and staff are especially excited to see the results of John Quincy Adams’ completed bond project. 

“When we first brought our students to the campus, one student came to me and said, ‘Ms. Fernandez, this looks like a university,’” Fernandez said. “I told him, ‘This is for you. This is yours.’ It has been so exciting. You can feel and you can see the difference in how the communities have been impacted.” 

To learn more about Dallas ISD’s bond projects, visit

Send us your videos

If you were a full-time Dallas ISD employee before May 1, 2022, and returned for the 2022-2023 school year expect to see an additional $500 in your September paycheck as part of the district’s retention incentive. Part-time eligible employees will receive an amount based on their FTE. If you are getting the incentive, tell us why Dallas ISD is home to you and how you will spend the extra $500 by capturing your thoughts in a fun video that is no more than 20 seconds long and sharing it with us. 

Make sure you use the phrase “Dallas ISD: This is Home” during the video and that you don’t use any background music, profanity or any images that might be considered inappropriate. Make sure you record your video horizontally, which is when you hold your phone lengthwise. Have fun telling us how you will use the incentive. Send your video to with the subject “incentive video.” If you also post your video on Twitter, tag @TeamDallasISD and use #ThisIsHome. 

By sending us the video, you understand that Dallas Independent School District, its agents, and representatives may use the material only for the purposes of promoting the Staff Vaccine Incentive. You understand that neither the Dallas Independent School District nor its representatives will reproduce said video or likeness for other commercial value or receive monetary gain for use of any reproduction/broadcast of said video or likeness and that you will receive no additional compensation for its use. Dallas ISD may edit the video.

The remaining two installments of the incentive will be paid in December and May. 

Start the year well with SEL

Social and emotional learning is critical to Dallas ISD’s mission to educate all students for success, as it builds the skills, knowledge and attitudes that students and staff need to thrive.

“SEL is integrated into everything that we do,” said Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, executive director of Social and Emotional Learning. “Specifically, we’re talking about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. These are skills you have to practice throughout the day every day, and our students are constantly looking to us as examples.” 

As staff are settling into the new school year, it’s a great time to take advantage of the SEL resources available throughout the district. They can be practiced at home, in the office or in the classroom to create healthier, safer environments in our communities. 

The SEL Department has developed supplemental resources to support teachers as they lead regular SEL explicit skills learning this school year, which are available in Schoology. To find additional explicit skills curriculum recommendations, visit

Valdespino-Gaytan also recommends using the Rhithm app—available across the district at all schools—as a way to check in. After answering a short, emoji-based survey, users receive 30-second to three-minute videos based on how they are feeling that day. With regular practice, the app can create a “sense of security” that help is available regardless of what someone is going through. 

“If we’re going to ask something of students, it’s important that we as adults are ready to practice and model it first,” Valdespino-Gaytan said. “Starting off at the beginning of the year is helpful, but it’s never too late to be intentional about applying social and emotional skills to your daily actions if you need a reset.”

The SEL Department provides district-wide professional learning opportunities, coaching sessions at the campus level, parent and community information sessions, and SEL resources.   To learn more about SEL practices and services in place across the district, visit You can also explore the district’s SEL in Action Playlist for tips on everything from mindfulness to positive affirmations. 

There is help for those who are grieving

Grief is a universal human response based on loss, trauma and unmet expectations, and the complicated emotions attached to it can recur months and even years after the initial loss of a loved one. 

During National Grief Awareness Day, observed annually on Aug. 30, mental health professionals focus on encouraging open communication about loss and bereavement to achieve a better understanding of what causes grief and how to address it. 

This is especially important because grief can be hard to identify, said Dr. Tracey Brown, executive director of Mental Health Services. 

“A lot of times, people are experiencing grief, and they don’t recognize they’re grieving,” Brown said. “They know something is wrong internally, but they don’t understand what grief looks like, so a part of our job is to help individuals define their response to grief and loss and develop coping strategies for overcoming it.”

Common signs of grief include anger, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, sadness, fatigue, guilt, pain, crying spells or loneliness.

“Know that it’s OK to not be OK,” Brown said. “If you find yourself in that space, know that help is available.”

Help for staff experiencing grief

For Dallas ISD staff who are experiencing some of these feelings and are having trouble dealing with them, help is a phone call away through the Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks. This confidential, secure platform has free specialist counselors on call 24/7, as well as personalized wellbeing tips, podcasts, videos, exercises, assessments and more. 

Staff can simply contact LifeWorks by calling (972) 925-4000, or visiting and clicking on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information. LifeWorks also has an app that offers specialized self-help resources developed by world-leading experts. Once downloaded, the app can be accessed through the EAD login credentials. 

For instances when dealing with grief or other emotional situations involve more than just one person, the EAP also has support counselors available. These counselors can be deployed to campuses or departments to help staff who may be facing a conflict or have emotional concerns. District managers can start this process by contacting the Benefits Department in Human Capital Management.  

The EAP is one of the resources offered in the district. Others include Mental Health Services, Counseling Services or Social and Emotional Learning, Brown said. 

“No matter the concern, we are here to support you,” she added.

Coping with grief

For people who are actively experiencing grief, Brown recommended several coping mechanisms. 

  • Practice self-care regularly and prioritize your physical health
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise

You can also put yourself in a different space by taking advantage of your available PTO, practicing positive affirmations or engaging in new leisure activities like a pottery or yoga class, she said. 

“Do something different,” Brown said. “Some of us will get into a routine, and even though we might be experiencing grief, trauma and stress, we do not realize that it’s ongoing because we have not given ourselves that moment to step away and engage in something we enjoy.” 

Another tool is leaning into your social support system. While back-to-school season can bring busier schedules and a faster pace, be sure to schedule time with friends and remember the positive, joyful connections you have. 

Grief is a journey, but you do not have to endure it alone. 

Helping those who are grieving

For anyone who is caring for a struggling friend, family member or student, Brown said self-care is key to showing up each day. You do not need to know all the answers or have the perfect response. Simply check in with your grieving loved one, give them permission to feel whatever they feel and help them find the resources they may need to process through their pain.

“Take care of yourself,” Brown said. “We all experience grief, so when you are having those feelings, reach out to someone. Please, do not suffer in silence. Someone is available to help!” 

Core 4 Tip: Create memorable moments

The 2022-2023 school year is off to a good start, but like any other organization whose purpose is to serve people, Dallas ISD staff sometimes encounter conflict. But by following the Core 4 culture tenets, these encounters can be turned into memorable moments. 

When encountering conflict—whether it involves a colleague, a student, a parent or a community member—the best way to turn it around is to make them feel that you are on their side. 

By showing them you are their partner in solving their concern, they will feel heard and valued. Show them that you want them to succeed by following these tips:

  • If meeting in person, shift your body language so you’re both facing the problem together
  • Listen carefully to customers to better understand their concern
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Repeat what seem important points to them to make sure you understand
  • When discussing solutions, use collaborative words like “we” and “let’s”

Conflict often arises out of the feeling that the person’s concern is not being taken with the level of seriousness it deserves, and it can be resolved by simply listening to their issue and trying to be helpful. 

Sometimes, there isn’t a satisfactory solution to a concern, but showing interest and a willingness to help will likely diffuse misunderstandings and create memorable moments. 

Think creatively

The iDesign Central Fellowship is an experience for Dallas ISD central staff leaders to build habits for design to lead teams and transform culture. This opportunity takes a design thinking approach to spreading creative confidence by equipping fellows with tools, processes, and resources to intentionally and creatively tackle district challenges using design thinking. To learn more, go to This fellowship is open to 20 central staff leaders.

The fellowship asks for the following commitments from participants:

  • Five full day workshops between September 2022-February 2023.
  • One day (chosen at your discretion) to shadow a user to better understand how he/she experiences the systems you lead.
  • Dedicated time in-between workshops to put what you learn into practice and work on your design challenge (~4-6 hours).
  • Participation in two Showcase events hosted in December 2022 and February 2023.

Interested in being one of the 20 iDesign Fellows? Learn more and submit a short application at by 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. Reach out to the Personalized Learning Department with questions at

Central staff go back to the classroom

Evelyn Lopez and Patricia Barroso were well into planning out their year as early learning specialists when the call came last week for Teaching and Learning staff to support students in a more direct way—as teachers of record in schools across the district.

Evelyn Lopez set up her classroom with the help of her Early Learning colleagues.

 “My first reaction was surprise,” said Evelyn Lopez, who is teaching first grade at John W. Carpenter Elementary School. “But when Chief [Shannon] Trejo shared the reality that some kids would not have a teacher on their first day, I knew that’s what I had to do. My mind immediately transitioned to being back in the classroom.”

 “My son started first grade this year, and I imagined how he would feel if he didn’t have a teacher there to provide a welcoming environment and be there for him,” she added. “Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is show up and be present and ready to work for the kids.”

Dallas ISD was facing starting the new school year with some classrooms without a teacher due in great part to a national teacher shortage, so central divisions stepped up to send certified staff back to the classroom to serve as teachers of record in bilingual, special education and core content classrooms. While the district still has teacher vacancies it is working to fill with new hires, the central staff deployment meant that students in almost 100 classrooms had a certified teacher of record welcoming them to their first day of class.

 “We are focusing on the vision to put kids first,” Trejo said. “We value our campus teachers and now have a system in place to support them in a different way.”

The Teaching and Learning Division has identified 145 certified staff who can be deployed to campuses—especially high priority and ACE schools—to fill vacancies and other classes that need additional supports through at least Sept. 23 when campus needs will be re-evaluated based on student enrollment, the fall leveling process and hiring capacity, said Trejo. Our team is ready and willing to serve as teacher of record until the end of year to ensure that students have the best learning experience possible. If a full-time teacher is identified for that position before Sept. 23, the central staff member would remain on the campus to help with the transition, content training, and acclimation to the classroom systems that have been established before returning to prior duties.

Patricia Barroso

Barroso—who was a teacher for 14 years before becoming an early learning specialist six years ago—immediately switched to teacher mode when she heard she was going back to the classroom. Like Lopez, her first priority was to set up the classroom to welcome students.

The Saturday before school started, she spent several hours preparing her pre-K 3 classroom at Edwin J. Kiest Elementary School with the help of other early learning staff.

“I thought, ‘I have done this before and I am going to give it my all like all other teachers.’ There is no room for questions or wondering why,” Barroso said. “You show up for the kids. At that age, they need to have a good first day, a good first impression of their first day of school that will set the foundation for every other year.”

Transitioning back into the classrooms has had its challenges and adjustments, but Barroso and Lopez agree that putting kids first means being flexible and willing to go where they are needed for as long as they are needed.

 “When the call comes, it’s all hands on deck,” Lopez said.

 The goal will be to continue to recruit high quality teachers into the district during the fall semester. Potential candidates such as December college graduates or teachers qualifying under alternative certification will be a pipeline for placements in January. The team will remain committed to maintaining and/or reassigning central office staff to classrooms that remain unfilled at that time.