Fort Worth ISD school board’s political balance will be decided in May — and have a lasting impact as trustees gear up to find a new superintendent.
Trustee Jacinto Ramos on March 8 announced he will resign from the nine-member board, setting up the district’s second special election for the May 7 ballot.
The school board is expected to order a special election for the North Side-centric District 1 seat at its March 22 meeting. Voters will pick from three candidates to fill the late Daphne Brookins’ seat; Brookins died of COVID-19 in November.
Ramos leaves behind a complicated tenure that has drawn furor from some parents and praise from others.
Some, such as North Side Steers PTA Vice President Claudia Palacios, are grateful for Ramos’ service on the school board, but knew his decision to leave less than a year into his third four-year term would happen eventually.
More conservative community members and parents are celebrating his departure because they opposed his focus on equity.
Ordering an election
The last day to order a vacancy-related special election is March 22, according to the Texas Secretary of State. That is when trustees are expected to order the election. Board policy states trustees can call for a special election on the next uniform election.
The filing period will likely be tight. Potential candidates will have six days to add their names to the ballot, according to state law.
Ramos’s resignation will be official when trustees accept it or on the eighth day of trustees receiving notice of it, according to board policy. The vacancy will start whichever date is earliest.
The trustee announced his resignation in a letter to trustees on March 8. However, Ramos plans to remain on the school board until a May special election, according to district officials.
Ramos’s time as a trustee
Ramos was first elected in 2013, and was most recently elected to a third four-year term in 2021; he was unopposed.
“After weeks of discussions with my wife, children and family, I have decided that the time has come for me to step away from my position as the board member for District 1, and allow a new generation of leaders to step forward and continue the important work that is before us,” Ramos wrote in his resignation letter.
Palacios, the PTA president, is sad to see Ramos go.
“I feel like he came in at an important time and he took on the role on behalf of District 1,” she said. “And he really called attention to the needs of the community at that time.”
Nearly 59% of District 1 residents are Latino. Because Ramos is Hispanic, Palacios said it was nice to have that representation on the board. Two other Hispanic trustees, Anael Luebanos and Roxanne Martinez, are also on the school board.
He cared about issues in the community and kept a hand on the pulse of the district, she said. Palacios pointed to COVID-19 as one example. Ramos was an advocate for masks and vaccine access because he knew the virus had a disproportionate impact on the Hispanic community, Palacios said.
In August, the school district put in place a mask mandate despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order against them. A legal battle eventually resulted in the district not being able to enforce the mandate.
In September 2020, Ramos came under scrutiny for posting a photo of him and his son at a Dallas Cowboys game days after he voted against having students return to in-person learning.
Ramos recently has drawn the ire of some Fort Worth ISD residents. At the school board’s February meeting, public comment speakers were upset over Ramos reading a book instead of looking at them as they voiced their concerns.
“You don’t own me. You’re not my constituent,” Ramos told a speaker.
Ramos also was the sole dissenting vote on pushing back a decision on selecting a finance adviser for the district’s $1.2 billion bond. He said it was not trustees’ role to go against a staff recommendation of awarding the position to a single firm. Ultimately, the school board tapped two firms to act as the district’s bond adviser.
Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com.
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