We have heard talk that there was a commitment from the FWISD staff to return Alice Carlson to the community
when it became needed. This is untrue. See below.
I am an Alice Carlson parent and District 6 resident. First, let me say that I (and other Carlson parents) are
thankful for the incredible personnel and opportunities that the district has provided to Carlson. And, we are
also particularly sensitive to the problems faced throughout the district, including overcrowding at
Tanglewood. Carlson certainly doesn’t want to be another issue for the district. Both at the stakeholder
meeting at Carlson earlier this year and during public comment at the May 9, 2017 school board meeting,
I provided my personal (and what I believe to be practical) reasons that Carlson is an incredible program and an incredible place that would be detrimentally affected by a move. I won’t rehash those here, but am happy to provide those statements to you at your request.
But, at the May 9, 2017 board meeting, it was repeatedly suggested during public comments that, when
Carlson was closed, the Board made a promise to return Carlson to a neighborhood school if the need ever
arose. I’m not a Fort Worth native, so this claim interested me and spurred me to do some additional research. After looking through available information, all sources that I could find suggest that these claims are contrary to the historical record. I don’t know want to provide you information that you already know, but I found the whole
story fascinating and wanted to share what I found with you. I appreciate your time.
To put the situation in context, when the decision was made in the early 1980s to close Carlson, FWISD was
not simply a collection of neighborhood schools populated only by people living nearby. To the contrary,
the entire district was under federal court supervision as part of a comprehensive desegregation program.
For background, review the federal court’s opinion in Flax v. Potts, 567 F. Supp. 859
(N.D. Tex. 1983)
…/district-cou…/FSupp/567/859/1454498/). This involved clusters of schools,
community bussing, and numerous other measures as part of a decades-long process.
To help with those efforts, in the early 1980s the Board and parties to the desegregation lawsuit
appointed a Citizens’ Advisory Committee that was tasked with designing an amended desegregation plan
that would put them on the road to ending court supervision. The Committee acted independently and
introduced a unanimous plan to, among other things, close a number of elementary schools, including
Carlson. At that time, Carlson’s attendance was less than half of its capacity and projected to decline. Thus,
“the cost per student for educating the students at Alice Carlson [was] the highest in the Fort Worth school
system.” Flax, 567 F. Supp. at 866.
The plan divided the Carlson attendance zone between Lily B. Clayton and Tanglewood. But, even under the
plan Tanglewood did not simply remain a neighborhood school. Instead, it was part of a cluster with Como,
Phillips, and Ridglea Hills. Como would receive all second graders from those schools, and Ridglea Hills and
Tanglewood would receive third graders from Como. See Flax, 567 F. Supp. at 876. Ultimately, that busing arrangement would last until the late 1980s. Federal court supervision over desegregation would continue into the 1990s.
Although the Board approved the plan, the federal court still had to sign on. That fact alone negates any notion that the Board did (or could) promise to return Carlson once it had been closed. The federal court approved the plan in 1983 and the Board moved forward with closing Carlson.
The Board’s actions after closing Carlson also contradict any promise to return. After Carlson was closed,
the district listed Carlson for sale as surplus property. See http://www.fwisd.org/domain/1075
. Certainly, this would be inconsistent with any promise to return the school. Carlson supporters stepped in and successfully secured a designation as an “archaeological landmark,” which prevented destruction of the building and limited architectural changes. Faced with a school building that could not be altered as easily, the district chose not to sell the building and, instead, used it as office space and leased part of the building to Kinderplatz. Then, in 1992, the district reopened Carlson as an applied learning center.
The sum of this story is that the district did not (and could not) have promised that Carlson would be returned to the neighborhood at the time it closed. In fact, Bud Kennedy,
a journalist at the Star-Telegram, recently reviewed the newspaper’s archives regarding Carlson’s closing and
concluded that “[i]t does not appear there was ever any promise or even a discussion of ever returning
Alice Carlson to the neighborhood.” Thus, any argument that making Alice Carlson a neighborhood school
fulfills a “promise” simply is not based in fact. Thanks again for all of your commitment and service to the
district and its students.