Students Plead to DISD Board for Band Leader to Stay

Clarinet with sheet music, close shot of clarinet with sheet music. | Image by Poompob Anantarak

Carlton Williams stood inches away from a television screen in the hall of the Dallas Independent School District building Thursday, watching as multiple students asked the Board of Trustees to allow the band leader for the Skyline High School Marching Band to remain in his position and renew his contract.

Williams, visibly emotional, eventually moved from the screen and sat down, telling The Dallas Express that his contract wasn’t being renewed.

“The students don’t want me to leave, and I don’t want to leave,” he said. “The students are here to support me.”

Angelina Navarro, a senior at Skyline High School and a member of the marching band, told the trustees that Williams helped her after her mom passed away when she was 15, a freshman.

“When I told my band director, he was there for me,” Navarro said. “He helped me get through it.”

She said it was hard to see her mother hooked up to tubes at the hospital. “I told him she might not make it,” she said. “He gave me a big hug. At that moment, I knew I was going to be okay and get through this. Even after she passed, he was still here with me.”

She said working with the band leader helped her mature.

“As a kid, I never really understood commitment and discipline,” Navarro said. “Then my mentor showed me how. He taught me how to be the best person and player. My band director has really made a huge impact on my life, and I will forever be grateful for him.”

Student Maria Flores gave an emotional address to the Trustees.

“I know a lot of people say this and they will say this about our band director, but he’s like our main source of energy, and without him, the benches feel empty,” Flores said. “And I think everyone agrees that we just need him back because, without him, it’s like we all fall. We’ve also been feeling no energy at all. He’s a very understanding teacher.”

At that point, Flores was so emotional that she could no longer continue speaking.

The Board of Trustees meeting was filled with students wearing t-shirts representing the Skyline High School Marching Band. The meeting was crowded with more than 100 people, so many that the district had to move those standing to an overflow room next door.

Williams said he was touched by the level of support from the students.

“I love the support,” he said. “I hope it works.”

Williams said the reason for his contract not being renewed is complicated and had to do with students not being allowed to perform because they were failing classes.

Back in April, the State Executive Committee of the University Interscholastic League handed down decisions on the eligibility of student-athletes and determined rules violations. In the press release that was issued, Williams was given a one-year suspension, three years probation, and a public reprimand.

According to an audio recording of the meeting from April where Williams was suspended, in 2019, a group of 27 students who were ineligible participated in a UIL marching band competition. A UIL public relations representative provided the audio link as well as the original press release but did not comment further.

The DISD was unavailable for comment at press time.            

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  1. Sam Jeffeeson

    Upholding academic standards is important when students are participating in extracurricular activities. If the requirements are known and the standards not met, then this action unfortunately are appropriate. If the standards changed and the band director didn’t have time to comply, that should be actionable and the bandleader can fight the decision of the board. Tutoring and other assistance should be available to students who are struggling. Students must be made to understand that their commitment includes keeping up their grades so that they are not ineligible which affects whatever team or organization they are apart of. It is not good for the individual students nor the organizations they are committed to.

  2. Anonymous

    Forgive me if you this is stepping out of line. This man cannot continue to be blind to standards, deadlines and promises. We even have a section in our evaluation systems called “Professional Practices and Responsibilities”.
    The music educator community is a small one and we have been made aware of the violations this nice man has made on multiple occasions regarding the UIL No Pass No Play rule. He sought legal representation and was acquitted of his first violation. Now he got caught – what now? He lacks professionalism to the community he serves. When a schedule says to dismiss at a certain hour he needs to honor that unspoken social contract out of respect to the families he serves. I hate to see any person of color be kicked out of their high ranking position but he has lost his credibility making him unqualified regardless of his skin color and heritage. His drive to be excellent both professionally and musically is gone and it is time for DISD to act. Move over because there is a long line of music educators of all ages and backgrounds that would be appreciative and most of all capable to handle basic business for the benefit of Skyline and their community.

    • Sheri Beach

      Lost accredibily because he enforced the rules. If won’t show your name then explain what he did to make your comment? . “This man cannot continue to be blind to standards, deadlines and promises”??


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