Nancy Rodriguez: Longest campaign in Dallas ISD history
Nancy Rodriguez is a candidate for Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees, District 2—facing off against the current incumbent in a runoff election. Nancy’s election was originally scheduled for May but, because of the COVID pandemic, the general election was postponed until November. Now, Nancy is preparing for a runoff election, scheduled for December. This campaign has been nothing short of a marathon for Nancy—taking the title of longest-run race in Dallas ISD history.
Nancy was born and raised in New York City, calling the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan her hometown. Nancy’s parents were transplants from Puerto Rico. Nancy described her childhood community as a working class, blue collar neighborhood with incredible diversity. She remembers going to school with children from around the world, describing it as “truly a mixed group.” Nancy credits her neighborhood with her strong work ethic and her passion for her community.
As a child, Nancy was exposed to politics through her father. Nancy’s dad voted in every election, making a big deal out of the occasion by putting it on their family calendar and dressing nice. Nancy also remembers groups of community activists—mainly Democrat groups—who would set up a table in her apartment’s lobby to register folks to vote and share campaign literature. The first election that Nancy remembers voting in was former President Bill Clinton’s first term. In the time leading up to the election, she subscribed to Time magazine and US News & World Report so she could make an informed decision at the ballot box. While this was the first time Nancy voted, it would be far from the last.
Nancy started advocating for students in DISD years ago, after her trustee at the time made a negative comment about dual language programming. At that time, Nancy worked for DISD as a social worker. That trustee inmplied that other schools would be better suited to provide that programming, essentially kicking dual language students—like Nancy’s son—out of their current campus. That trustee caught wind of Nancy’s displeasure and reached out to her. But this did not curb Nancy’s drive to help student in her district.
She began attending school board meetings and learning more about the District’s functions. Nancy earned a position on DISD’s special education committee, where she worked with other parents and advocates to provide recommendations to the district. The committee recommended SpEd specific policies such as placing cameras in self-contained classrooms and recording ARD meetings (defined as meetings where SpEd students set yearly goals and analyze progress). Regardless of the numerous recommendations, the District did not incorporate anything—claiming they were too busy. When she called on her trustee for support, Nancy did not receive a response. This sparked her desire to run for his position.
Nancy is currently running for the District 2 seat on Dallas ISD’s Board of Trustees. One of her goals with her campaign is to create an open line of transparent communication with staff and parents. Her desire to explore accessible communication with trustees was magnified by her experience working on the special education committee. Nancy describes the greatest frustration shared among parents is a lack of response from the District, either through the administration or the trustees. One of Nancy’s top priorities is the creation of an ombudsman office, an office where an independent individual serves as a liaison between the District, teachers, parents, and students. An ombudsman would be someone who is neutral but loyal to the process of providing unbiased information to decisionmakers.
With her campaign being extended because of the runoff, Nancy has been busy. When asked about the difficulty balancing lifestyle priorities, Nancy admits that running for office can be challenging. There have been times where she has had to miss out on family time because of the large time commitment to her campaign. Nancy also misses having the free time to do things she loves such as cooking and reading. Nancy was laid off in the midst of her campaign. Though she is currently transitioning into a new job, Nancy has been able to find even more time to dedicate to her campaign now that she is facing a runoff election. Balancing her time has been challenging but Nancy still encourages other young women to run for office one day.
To learn more about Nancy’s campaign, visit her website: https://nancy4disd.com/