Category Archives: Local News

DCCCD trustees approve concealed carry policy

Members of the Dallas County Community College District’s board of trustees unanimously approved a new concealed (or campus) carry policy on Tues., June 6. The policy will start on Aug. 1, 2017.

DCCCD and all other community colleges in Texas are required to have a concealed/campus carry policy in place on Aug. 1, 2017, so that they can implement state law, SB 11, which was passed in June 2015 by the Texas Legislature.

“The Dallas County Community College District is committed to protecting the health and safety of our DCCCD community as we respect the rights of its individual members,” Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor said. “Passing this policy allows us to comply with the law without compromising our mission, purpose or the environment in which we all work and learn.

“I have worked with the district concealed carry committee and members of our board of trustees throughout this process to ensure that we meet the state’s deadline for implementation of our policy. Our concealed carry policy ensures that students and employees can learn and work in a safe environment and meets state requirements for individuals who are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

“The input of our students, employees and community members helped the committee craft a policy that reflects the ideas and feedback of everyone who participated,” he said.


Senate Bill 11, passed by the Texas legislature and signed by the governor in June 2015, permits a licensed-to-carry holder to carry concealed handguns on campus. The law also allows DCCCD and other institutions to adopt rules or regulations to implement concealed carry on campus as necessary, in view of student population, safety concerns and uniqueness of the campus environment, as long as the rules and regulations do not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting a license-holder from carrying a concealed handgun on campus.

“The law does not allow ‘open carry’ on college campuses,” said Lauretta Hill, DCCCD’s commissioner of public safety and security. “Open carry refers to the intentional display of a handgun, including the partially- or wholly-visible display of a handgun stored in a shoulder or belt holster. The law also does not allow the carry of rifles or shotguns on college campuses.”

DCCCD formed a districtwide concealed carry committee in fall 2016 chaired by Hill. Rob Wendland, the district’s general counsel, and Tricia Horatio, assistant general counsel, provided legal advice. Each college in the DCCCD system – Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland – had its own campus committee as well.

To prepare for and discuss concealed carry, the district held more than 40 open and public forums in January and February to gather comments from students, employees and community members. Following the public and campus forums held in January and February, the districtwide concealed carry committee worked on drafting a policy in April and May; the first reading of the policy was presented to the DCCCD board of trustees on May 2.

The policy’s second reading – and discussion in a work session among members of the board’s education and workforce committee with the chancellor, general counsel and police commissioner – was presented on June 6; board members then voted to approve the new concealed carry policy during their regular public meeting later in the afternoon and added an amendment to review the policy in two years..

DCCCD’s concealed carry policy

The district’s new policy prohibits the use, possession or display of a firearm on college district property or a college district-sponsored or related activity which violates the law or district policy or regulations.

The new DCCCD concealed carry policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, guests, visitors, and individuals and organizations that do business with or on behalf of the district or its property. The policy does not apply to commissioned police officers, including the college district’s police department.

The district’s newly-approved concealed carry policy includes a list of definitions referred to in the text, plus specific conditions, areas and events where concealed carry is not permitted. Open carry is prohibited.

Specific conditions, areas and events where concealed carry is not permitted on DCCCD property are listed below; additional details provided in the policy for those items can be found in the new policy document online here: .

DCCCD concealed carry policy specifics

The district’s policy says this about concealed carry: “An individual who holds a license to carry (referred to as a “license holder”) may carry a concealed handgun on or about his or her person on college district property, including public driveways, streets, sidewalks or walkways, parking lots, parking garages and other parking areas, unless such carry is otherwise prohibited by state or federal law or this (DCCCD) policy. A license holder is responsible for complying with applicable state and federal laws related to the carry of a concealed handgun.”

Licensed holders may not carry a concealed handgun on college district property if they are intoxicated, and they may not intentionally or knowingly display a handgun in the plain view of another person, even if holstered. They are required to display their driver’s license, or identification certification issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and their license to carry when directed by DCCCD police officers, who have the right to disarm them in order to protect the license holder, officer or other individual.

Here are other areas, conditions or activities where concealed carry is not permitted under DCCCD’s policy:

DCCCD does not allow concealed carry wherever it is prohibited by law or by the district’s policy.

Concealed carry is not permitted by DCCCD in child care centers or polling places; at sporting or interscholastic events; at board meetings; where counseling services are offered; in healthcare facilities or in laboratories or areas where potentially hazardous materials are located.

DCCCD’s policy also does not permit concealed carry in locations where Pre-K-12 school or college district-sponsored programs or activities are located (or by Pre-K-12 personnel on the grounds or premises where the program, activity or camp is held); in fitness centers or in fitness facilities; in college district vehicles; or where prohibited by law or by contract.

Concealed carry also is not permitted by DCCCD’s policy at event-specific activities (such as college and high school graduations); during grievance proceedings; and in temporary exclusion zones (which involve specific factors detailed in the policy). DCCCD also will provide notices at all locations and activities where concealed handguns are prohibited by the district’s policy or by law.

Other weapons also are prohibited on college district property or at DCCCD or college-sponsored or related activities, including: the use, possession or display of any illegal knife or club; fireworks of any kind; incendiary devices; instruments designed to expel a projectile with the use of pressurized air (such as a BB gun); razors; chains; martial arts throwing stars; or the possession or use of articles not generally considered weapons, if they pose a danger to any DCCCD student, employee or district property.

The new DCCCD concealed carry policy includes the use of disciplinary action for individuals who violate the policy, up to and including expulsion, termination of employment, severance of a business relationship or criminal prosecution.

SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

Win for Texas Wild in San Diego spoiled by home loss

After defeating the San Diego Aviators in sunny California 20-19, July 10, the Texas Wild tennis team had a second bout with the Aviators Sunday evening here at home where they lost to the high-flying team 21-18.

Despite a strong lead against the Aviators of 10-6 after both mixed doubles and women’s doubles a mid-game substitution cost the Wild their hefty lead during men’s singles.

During the match between Somdev Devvarman of the Aviators and Alex Bogomolov Jr. of the Wild, Bogomolov became fatigued and Aisam Qureshi was called in to finish the match.

Qureshi, having been out since the mixed doubles match at the beginning of the evening, was unable to find his footing fast enough to recover the win, ending the match in a 5-3 defeat for the Wild.

The Aviator’s having closed the gap between themselves and the Wild to 13-11, quickly pounced on the opportunity to take the lead going into the women’s doubles.

Anabel Garrigues of the Wild, faced off against Daniela Hantuchova of the Aviators, but couldn’t seem to get in the groove, ending in a 5-1 defeat for the Wild and the Aviator’s stealing the lead.

Qureshi and Bogomolov of the Wild, came back strong, but a little too late in the final men’s double match-up of the night, nearly pulling off a Wild win, but falling just short with a 5-4 decision for the Aviators which ended the night with a 21-18 win for the San Diego Aviators.

American Airlines breaks ground on Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center

DSC_0961FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines officially broke ground on the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center(IOC) in Fort Worth on July 8. Earlier this year, American announced plans to consolidate the current American Airlines operations center in Fort Worth and the current US Airways operations center in Pittsburgh.

“Think of the IOC as the 24/7 nerve center of an airline that has a global reach,” Chuck Allen, Managing Director of Government Affairs for American Airlines said. “The IOC coordinates the day-to-day, minute-by-minute operation of the airline. The specific functions of the new IOC include Flight Dispatch, Crew Scheduling, Maintenance Operations Control, Weight and Balance Planning, System Customer Service, Flight Planning Support and Emergency Planning and Response; and of course staff and leadership to support all of these team members. It is safe to say lights will always be on at the new IOC.

“This new facility is expected to be completed by Midsummer of 2015. It will house over 1,400 employees. Every 30 seconds an American Airlines flight is taking to the skies somewhere in this world and this center will be coordinating that. It will be 149,000-square-feet of hardened space. It will be designed to withstand an EF3 tornado that has winds gusting somewhere between 165 and 185 mph. This be the first building constructed on the American Airlines Flight Academy campus in more than 20 years.”

The new facility will be located near American’s headquarters and Flight Academy south of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The state-of-the-art IOC will serve as the nerve center of American’s global network and will house employees who plan, oversee and dispatch the airline’s more than one million annual mainline flights.

We’re here to break ground on our new state-of-the-art Integrated Operations Center,” said Doug Parker, American’s chairman and CEO. “Once built, it will house the operation control teams of our combined airline. The work that will be conducted here is at the heart of what American Airlines is all about: operating airplanes reliably around the world so that our customers can get to where the going safely and on time.

“Since the day we closed our merger, we set about to restore American to its rightful position as the greatest airline in the world. We view running in airline as a noble profession. Some of the most important work we do happens within our operations center. These airliner customers want to fly. We have to operate safely and reliably to provide this service to more than 190 million customers a year who rely on American. Our employees must have the best tools in the most up-to-date information. Our new operations center will provide all that and more.

“It is most fitting that this new, state-of-the-art facility will bear the name of one of the most respected leaders in American’s history. Bob Baker was widely regarded for his commitment to safety, reliability and operational integrity. He is a great example for all of us at American and we are honored to have his name on this extremely important facility,” he said.

The late Robert W. Baker was American’s former vice chairman who retired in 2002 after a 35-year career with the company. During his career, Baker held a variety of positions in Marketing, Freight Marketing, Field Services, Information Services and Operations. In 1985, Baker took responsibility for the airline’s Flight Operations, Airport Services and Maintenance and Engineering during a period of rapid growth for American. He became executive vice president of operations in 1989 and vice chairman in 2000. Baker was widely regarded throughout the industry for his commitment to safe and reliable airline operations.

During the ceremony, Robert Baker, Jr., had the opportunity to say a few words about his father’s love for American Airlines.
“We have spent our lives as part of the airline industry,” Baker said. “Our grandfather spent 40 years with American, dad 35 (years.) So until dad retired in 2002, in the entire history of the airline, there wasn’t a time that we did not have a Baker running the helm or helping out in some form
or fashion. That was pretty special.

“He believed in the airline, its purpose, its management, but especially the people and employees. In the end tickets are going to be purchased, planes will fly, people will travel, we just hope that dad’s name on the IOC inspires employees for years to come.”

Mayor Betsy Price congratulated American Airlines on selecting Ft. Worth as the home of its new IOC. She also pledged to help convert transplanted Steeler fans to Cowboys fans.

“DFW is an economic engine that really does drive this region,” Price said. “So many jobs, and so much of what we do, and about 80 percent of our business for DFW is American Airlines. You guys have emerged a stronger better partner for Fort Worth and for all of North Texas.

“The Integrated Operations Center brings great jobs. I was told the average salary on these entry-level jobs that will be coming in is $60,000 and up. That’s a great starting level.

“The city did grant a nice abatement, $6.5 million, but it’s an $88 million investment for us that continues to give. It’s an investment in the future for American and indeed an investment for the city of Fort Worth,” Price said.

“The facility is a great investment in the community,” Christopher Poinsatte, Chief Financial Officer for DFW Airport said. “It’s great for Fort Worth in the region. It’s clear with the new management team that American is very committed to grow here at DFW airport.”

Lillie Biggins, Chair of the DFW Airport Board, attended the ceremony to show her support for American Airlines’ decision to build the IOC close to the airport.

North Hills students win Best in Nation app award

A screenshot from a video from North Hills Prep School students explaining their award-winning app.
A screenshot from a video from North Hills Prep School students explaining their award-winning app.

Identically attired high school students filled the North Hills Preparatory school’s  newly completed, Rosemary Pearlmeter Student Activity Center gymnasium to celebrate the accomplishments of seven students on team Leave No Trace.

Having created a concept for an app to help people reduce their carbon footprint, the team entered the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The North Hills team proceeded to win Best in Texas, Best in South Area (11 state region) and finally Best in Nation.

“For this national competition there were more than 1,200 teams across America that involved over 11,000 students who submitted entries,” said David Russell, Verizon’s vice president of external affairs. “There were only eight national winners: four middle schools and four high schools. So North Hills made it to the Final Four in this competition. What makes it especially sweet for those of us who live in Texas, is that of the four middle school winners in the nation, one of those is in Texas also (Resaca Middle School in Los Fresnos). So Texas won 25 percent of the entire competition.”

The team’s teacher sponsor, Samuel Bandstra, said the idea behind the app was to one day help individuals preserve natural resources.

“Arguably the most important issue we are facing today is the issue of climate change and of our rapid use of our natural resources,” Bandstra said. “While scientists and politicians battle over policy and timelines, right here at North Hills an intrepid group of scholars has identified a small yet vital step that we can take towards conserving our precious natural resources and saving energy all by using something as ubiquitous yet revolutionary as a cell phone app.

“The purpose of Leave No Trace is simple, allow consumers to see their carbon footprint by inputting their energy usage into an app. Once they see the impact they are having on the environment, they will then be able to change their habits in order to lower their carbon footprint and thus decrease their negative impact on the environment.

“Eventually, we hope to interact directly with energy companies to offer financial incentives and compete with other users to see who can lower their energy usage more.

“Imagine if even 100 people lowered their annual energy usage by just 10 percent. Imagine the impact we can start to have on our planet; that is what we are hoping for,” he said.

“It’s a topic that is very timely, because there is so much emphasis and interest today in sustainability efforts,” Russell said. “I think the app will be appealing to a lot of younger people. If they can develop this app, it’s something a lot of people particularly under 40 would be interested in downloading and being aware of their carbon footprint, so they can be more responsible consumers of energy and electricity.”

Currently, the United States ranks 36th in the world in math and 38th in world in science. Any students wanting to ensure their future in the job force should begin seriously studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses now, according to Leslie Hernandez, Verizon’s director of business sales.

“You hear about the unemployment rates and how high they are, and there are three million STEM jobs available in the United States that are not filled, because we do not have qualified candidates,” Hernandez said.

“Thirty-four percent of U.S. eighth graders are proficient in math. Think about that. That is a huge percentage of folks who have made it through middle school who are not proficient in math. Only 17 percent of U.S. 12th graders are proficient in math. So the statistic gets worse as you get older,” Hernandez said. “A lot of folks are not interested in perusing STEM related jobs, because they are not proficient in some of these academic classes.

“Students such as the North Hills high school team are stepping forward to be leaders in math, technology and science. I want to reiterate to you guys how important it is to keep working the science, math and technology pieces as you go out into the world. The opportunity for STEM jobs is very positive for you guys as technology advances. Cell phones, tablets and technology, everything changes every day. There is something new every single day,” she said.

During the event, Verizon presented each member of team Leave No Trace and Mr. Bandstra with a new Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Verizon also presented North Hills Preparatory school a check for $20,000.

In the next few months, the team will work with trainer Ann Root from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to learn how to turn their concept into an actual app that can be downloaded. The app will be displayed at National Technology Student Association Conference in Washington, D.C. June 27 – July 1. Once it is created, North Hills Preparatory will own the app.

Perhaps it is not too ironic that in a school known for its academic prowess, the first banner hung in its new gymnasium is for an achievement in STEM.

“Our mission as an IB World School is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who create a better and more peaceful world,” said Tracy Odom, North Hills’ High School Director, during the assembly. “Your app challenge is an example of IB (International Baccalaureate) in action.

“We thank you Verizon for year after year providing challenging opportunities for young people who are active and passionate learners.”

A variety of extracurricular activities helps young people expand their learning experience, according to Yasmin Bhatia, the CEO of Uplift Education, North Hills’ charter school network.

“Participation in the Verizon App Challenge is the exact type of extension of a classroom learning environment that we are always seeking and striving to provide for our students. There is no better way to make learning sticky than connecting it to real world situations and challenges,” Bhatia said.

Click here to watch the students explain the app.