Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District

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Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District (WHISD) was a school district in southern Dallas County, Texas serving the cities of Wilmer and Hutchins, a portion of Dallas (the district was last headquartered at 3820 East Illinois Avenue in Dallas [1]), and a small portion of Lancaster. The district served urban, suburban, and rural areas.[2] Some unincorporated areas with Ferris addresses were served by WHISD.

The Dallas subdivision of College Terrace [1] is within the former WHISD boundaries.


Wilmer-Hutchins ISD
Student enrollment by year [2]
School Year Total Students
1988–89 3,870
1989–90 3,708
1990–91 3,792
1991–92 3,886
1992–93 3,967
1993–94 4,017
1994–95 4,007
1995–96 3,837
1996–97 3,381
1997–98 3,495
1998–99 3,651
1999–00 3,444
2000–01 3,283
2001–02 3,025
2002–03 2,902
2003–04 3,070
2004–05 2,916

Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District was established in 1927 as a consolidation of four smaller school districts. Wilmer-Hutchins High School was established in 1928. At the time it had one elementary school for black students that had been built for $2,000. It had one teacher. At one point district officials cleaned the second floor of the black school and converted it into Wilmer-Hutchins Colored High School. Around 1939, Wilmer-Hutchins Colored High School burned down in a fire. After that occurred, children were bused to Dallas ISD schools such as Booker T. Washington High School and Lincoln High School. Black elementary students attended classes at Little Flock Baptist Church until a new elementary school named Morney Elementary School was opened.[3]

In September 1954, more than 100 African-American students and parents went into Linfield Elementary School, then an all-White WHISD school. They were tired of the district's periodic closing of Melissa Pierce School, an all-Black school, so students would pick crops. The district turned the students away.[4]

In 1958, WHISD had 1,746 White students and 577 African-American students. The number of African-American students increased rapidly over the next decade as the United States government established housing policies that concentrated many African-American families in the northern part of the district. The district, still clinging to its policy of segregation, spent millions of dollars building new schools for black students - Bishop Heights Elementary School, Milton K. Curry Junior High School and John F. Kennedy High School were all opened in the early 1960s. The more rural southern portion of the district remained predominantly white - Linfield, Alta Mesa, Wilmer and Hutchins Elementary Schools were reserved for white students, as was Wilmer-Hutchins Junior High and High School. In February 1970, WHISD was forced to implement desegregation busing.[4]

The mayor of Hutchins, Don Lucky, formed a group of followers and hijacked Hutchins Elementary School for a period. Two out of three White people in WHISD moved away from the district in the early 1970s.[4] WHISD became predominately economically poor and African-American; WHISD became controlled by African-Americans. In 1996 around 17,800 people lived within the district. U.S. Census figures stated that the area was about 70% African-American and mostly blue collar. One in five people lived in poverty. One in fifteen adults held one or more university degrees. Most residents were homeowners. The Dallas Observer described the district, which had "urban demographics" and a location "a few minutes from downtown Dallas," as having an "incongruous rural feel" with "pig farms sit cheek by jowl with burglar-barred houses in sprawling subdivisions built 25 or 30 years ago" within the Dallas portion of Wilmer-Hutchins ISD.[5]

In 1999, the school district had 3,651 students.[6] In April 2003 it had 3,060 students and had gained 35 students from the start of the year.[7] By 2004 it had about 2,900 students.[6] It was the only Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex school district to have lost population between 1999 and 2004. Many WHISD parents left the district, putting their children in Dallas Independent School District schools or charter schools.[8]


Throughout its existence, the district was historically recognized as one of the poorest-performing school districts in Texas, in terms of both student test scores and managerial oversight. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) had, on several occasions, appointed monitors to oversee the district, with no long-term success.[9] This led to the decrease of the student body in the district. The district shrank by more than a third of its student size in the 2000s (decade), and, by the 2000s (decade), the district's boundaries had more charter school students than any other district in the state of Texas.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, the State of Texas threatened to revoke the district's accreditation. Due to misuse of district funds and fraudulent elections in the 1980s the Texas Education Agency threatened to close the district. In the 1990s, for two years the TEA took over operations of WHISD.[10]

Around 1996, according to the district's accounts, 600 students in the WHISD attendance zone attended school in other school districts, such as Dallas ISD and Lancaster ISD, by using false addresses or addresses of relatives, since many of the families in the WHISD attendance zone did not make enough money to enroll their children in private school.[5] Due to hastiness and lack of following procedure when firing employees, the district in 1996 had a legal budget of $366,583 ($551235.67 when adjusted for inflation), amounting to about $114 ($171.42 when adjusted for inflation) per student. This is compared to the Plano Independent School District's legal spending of $161,598 ($242997.04 when adjusted for inflation), about $4 ($6.01 when adjusted for inflation) per student, and the Dallas Independent School District's legal budget of about $900,000 ($1353341.82 when adjusted for inflation), about $6 ($9.02 when adjusted for inflation) per student.[11]

In 2004, the district closed Wilmer-Hutchins Performing Arts High School, A.L. Morney Learning Center, and Hutchins Academic Elementary School. The board also voted to eliminate the district's police department and fire the police chief, Cedric Davis.[8] By 2005, the district's buildings were in poor shape. Large trees grew out of the bleachers of the Wilmer-Hutchins ISD football field.[9] Wilmer-Hutchins High School failed fire inspections twice in a row.[12]

Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune said "When the state closed Wilmer-Hutchins ISD six years ago, the district was like the region’s unwanted stepchild — few of the neighboring districts wanted to absorb students from its low-performing schools."[10]


After a series of investigative stories in The Dallas Morning News found evidence of cheating on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in Wilmer-Hutchins, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) began an investigation into the findings. That investigation found sufficient evidence of educator-led cheating for TEA to retroactively declare the school district "academically unacceptable" (the lowest possible ranking). The retroactive ranking was the second consecutive "academically unacceptable" rating, which gave the TEA authority to close WHISD and transfer its students to another school district. After WHISD voters overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to increase the property tax rate (many citing the district's shoddy recordkeeping), the TEA elected not to attempt yet another monitoring effort, and instead ordered the district closed for the 2005–2006 school year. The Lancaster ISD was given first opportunity to absorb the district, but declined.[9] Instead, the Dallas Independent School District agreed to absorb WHISD.[13] The United States Department of Justice approved the closure on December 13, 2005.[14] The district held its final meeting on June 30, 2006.[15] Dallas ISD elected to close all of the Wilmer-Hutchins schools and sent students to existing Dallas schools. The entire senior class of Wilmer-Hutchins High School went on to South Oak Cliff High School. Other students were divided into several different schools.[16] Marlon Brooks, the principal of Wilmer-Hutchins High School as of 2011, said that some students had commutes of over one hour.[17] Some students were over 12 miles (19 km) away from their zoned schools.[18]

The Dallas Observer, an alternative newsweekly, argues that DISD agreed to absorb the district because of the significant tax revenue to be gained from the recently completed US$70 million Union Pacific Dallas Intermodal Terminal, which is located partly in the city of Wilmer and partly in the city of Hutchins, but wholly within the WHISD district boundaries.[9][19]

After the closure of WHISD property values in the district increased.[20]

Use of former WHISD campuses and material by Dallas ISD[edit]

In January 2007, Dallas ISD removed 5,000 boxes with more than one half million personnel records and placed them in the DISD administration building. The district also removed the trophies, banners, and plaques from the WHISD campuses.[citation needed]

As a result of the merger, Dallas ISD will hold the titles to the former WHISD campus facilities. For the 2008 bond proposal DISD plans to demolish the former Kennedy-Curry Middle School campus and renovate the Wilmer-Hutchins High School campus. In addition DISD plans to build a new elementary school campus within the former WHISD territory.[21]

In 2011 DISD re-opened Kennedy Curry and Wilmer-Hutchins High School and opened Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School in the Wilmer-Hutchins area. The district had renovated Kennedy-Curry and expanded it by almost 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2). Funds from the 2008 $1.35 billion bond were used to overhaul the schools.[22]

Movement to reopen WHISD[edit]

Faye Gafford started a group aiming to re-establish Wilmer-Hutchins ISD. Some WHISD residents missed the small-town country feel of WHISD schools and schools close to their houses. Some residents feel that the next preferable option is to have DISD open schools in the former WHISD territory.[23]

Gafford stated that "There have been predominantly White schools in this area whose students have done far worse on test scores than our children have. They are allowed to continue with their neighborhood school. Why is that?" Gafford did not state which schools performed worse than WHISD schools.[24]


In the district's final year of operation, it had around 3,000 students. About 80% were black and about 20% were Hispanic.[25]

Former schools[edit]

Schools operating at the time of closure[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

High schools[edit]
Middle schools[edit]

Primary schools[edit]

  • Alta Mesa Learning Center (Dallas)
    • Located at 2901 Morgan Drive [5]
  • Bishop Heights Elementary School (Dallas)
    • Located at 3606 Tioga Street [6]
  • C.S. Winn Elementary School (Hutchins)
    • Located at 1701 Millers Ferry Road with a P.O. Box 1269 [7]
  • Hutchins 5th Grade Center
  • Wilmer Elementary School (Wilmer)
    • Located at 211 Walnut Street [8]

Schools previously operated by the district, closed prior to dissolution[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

  • Wilmer-Hutchins Colored High School
  • Wilmer-Hutchins Performing Arts High School (Dallas) (Opened in August 2003,[7] Closed 2004[8] Located in the former Mamie White campus,[citation needed] it had 55 students at the time the district announced that the school would be closed. Students were moved to Wilmer-Hutchins High School.[6]
  • John F. Kennedy High School (opened in 1964 for black students and closed in 1968 after desegregation; the building was combined with the adjacent Milton K. Curry campus to form a junior high school)[9], at 8612 Trippie Street [10], had 82 students at the time of closure [11].

Primary schools[edit]

  • Hutchins Academic Elementary School (Hutchins) (Closed 2004[8])
    • Located at 500 Palestine Street [12], Hutchins Academic had 83 students at the time the district decided to close the school. The board said students could be moved to C.S. Winn, Wilmer, or both schools.[6]
  • Linfield Elementary School
  • Melissa Pierce School
  • Mamie White Elementary School


  • A. L. Morney Learning Center (Hutchins) (Opened 2003,[7] Closed 2004[8])
    • Morney was a preschool that, in April 2003, served 29 students. It had a capacity of 120.[7] It had had 82 students at the time WHISD announced it would close the school.[6]


Former WHISD administration building

The district headquarters were located in Dallas, in a former elementary school. Thomas Koroesec of the Dallas Observer said that the building, which does not have windows, "at times resembles an education ministry in some Third World country."[27]

District area[edit]

In 1996 Fahim Minkah, the director of the nonprofit community group United Front of Dallas and a former organizer previously known as Fred Bell, said that many of the neighborhoods in WHISD were, as paraphrased by Thomas Korosec of the Dallas Observer, "better than many in southern Dallas" and that the district area had "decent housing and a tolerable level of crime."[27] Despite this he had withdrawn his children from WHISD schools.[27]


  1. ^ Home Page as of April 2, 2007. Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District. Retrieved on August 22, 2009. "Wilmer-Hutchins ISD 3820 East Illinois Avenue Dallas, Texas 75216"
  2. ^ "Welcome." Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District. June 11, 2004. Retrieved on July 17, 2011. "The WHISD is located in the southern Dallas County and encompasses the incorporated cities of Hutchins, Wilmer, Lancaster, and small sections of Dallas. The district serves about 3,200 students, from urban, suburban and rural areas."
  3. ^ Benton, Joshua (2005-07-15). "A family on both sides of district’s demise; Pioneer fought to save W-H; granddaughter cast key vote to close it". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-08-22.  (Archive)
  4. ^ a b c Korosec, Thomas. "Last in the Class." Dallas Observer. October 3, 1996. 5. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Korosec, Thomas. "Last in the Class." Dallas Observer. October 3, 1996. 1. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e Benton, Joshua. "Wilmer-Hutchins district plans to close 3 campuses to cut costs; Schools chief says arts magnet, elementary, learning center to shut." The Dallas Morning News. December 7, 2004. 1B. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Progress Report Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District October 2003." Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved on September 3, 2011. "In January 2003, the district opened the A. L. Morney Learning Center, a preschool serving 29 three- and four-year-old students with a capacity to hold 120 students."
  8. ^ a b c d e Benton, Joshua. "Wilmer-Hutchins board votes to close 3 schools; Police Department also gets ax as district tries to rein in costs." The Dallas Morning News. December 14, 2004. 1B. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d Schutze, Jim. "Hope Chest." Dallas Observer. July 21, 2005. 1. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  10. ^ a b Smith, Morgan. "After Wilmer-Hutchins ISD is Closed, Signs of Rebirth." The Texas Tribune. April 9, 2012. Retrieved on April 3, 2013.
  11. ^ Korosec, Thomas. "Last in the Class." Dallas Observer. October 3, 1996. 4. Retrieved on July 15, 2013.
  12. ^ "Wilmer Hutchins Gets Failing Grades Again." KXAS-TV.
  13. ^ "Commissioner orders annexation of Wilmer-Hutchins to Dallas ISD, effective July 2006." Texas Education Agency. September 2, 2005. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  14. ^ Benton, Joshua. "U.S. Justice allows dissolution of W-H district; Scandal-plagued district is set to merge with DISD schools July 1." The Dallas Morning News. December 13, 2005. 8B. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  15. ^ Benton, Joshua. "Wilmer-Hutchins’ door closes, another opens; Broke, scandalized and a failure, school district shuts down; At midnight, what’s left of agency becomes part of DISD, which took in its children last fall." The Dallas Morning News. June 30, 2006. 1B. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  16. ^ Gordon, Jennifer. "Wilmer -Hutchins seniors will go to South Oak Cliff High." The Dallas Morning News. Wednesday July 27, 2005. Retrieved on July 15, 2011.
  17. ^ Schechter, David. "DISD reopens an old school to much excitement." WFAA. Thursday August 18, 2011. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.
  18. ^ Bassett, Charles. "Dallas ISD reopens Wilmer Hutchins schools six years after they were shutdown." The 33 TV. August 21, 2011. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.
  19. ^ "Dallas Intermodal Terminal." Union Pacific. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  20. ^ Booth, Herb. "W-H property values increase: Schools' negative publicity had scared development, some say." The Dallas Morning News. July 1, 2006. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  21. ^ "Future Facilities Task Force Summary of Recommendations for 2008 Bond Program." Dallas Independent School District. March 29, 2008. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  22. ^ Hobbs, Tawnell D. "Dallas school district to open 3 Wilmer-Hutchins campuses, close 2 others." The Dallas Morning News. November 24, 2010. Retrieved on July 15, 2011.
  23. ^ Benton, Joshua. "A call for Wilmer-Hutchins' reopening." The Dallas Morning News. Monday July 2, 2007. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  24. ^ "Petition Purposes to Reopen Dallas Black School District New Life For WHISD?." African-American News & Issues. March 7–13, 2007. Volume 12, Issue 5. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  25. ^ Smith, Morgan. "New Wilmer-Hutchins High School shows signs of rebirth." Texas Tribune. Monday April 9, 2012. Retrieved on September 19, 2012.
  26. ^ a b "Campus History." Kennedy-Curry Middle School. June 30, 2003. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  27. ^ a b c Korosec, Thomas. "Last in the Class." Dallas Observer. October 3, 1996. 2. Retrieved on July 19, 2011.

External links[edit]