By Matt Thomas, NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

There is controversy in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch School District over a mentoring program that involves volunteers from the Latino rights group LULAC.

The mayor of Farmers Branch is calling for an end to the program at one of the district’s high schools.

The school district says LULAC is just part of a mentoring program at R.L. Turner High School that is being put on through a grant from Ford.  Although the 75 students in the program are being mentored by representatives from a number of groups, Farmers Branch Mayor Tim O’Hare says LULAC should have no involvement because he says they are a political group.

A spokesman for LULAC says Mayor O’Hare is the one politicizing the issue.  LULAC spokesman Brent Wilks says they’ve invited O’Hare to come see the mentoring program at Turner, but so far, he hasn’t.

In a statement, the district says the mentors are of all ethnic backgrounds, and the students have a parental permission.

The Ford Motor Company funded grants to 10 LULAC chapters, encouraging involvement with schools to engage in dropout prevention.
Representatives from a local LULAC council approached the district with this grant funding to create a mentorship program called Driving to Dreams: Leadership in Action program.  The program’s purpose is strictly educational and motivational while focusing on staying in school and pursuing dreams of higher education. Our Campus Improvement Committee, made up of parents, staff and community members, approved the program and agreed that the program had merit and that it would benefit our students and campus.
As part of the program, there are mentors from many organizations including the Dallas Bar Association, SMU, Brookhaven, UTD, C-FB Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and LULAC who are professionals and/or university students in the community working in partnership with campus administration to mentor 75 students.  Both mentors and students come from all backgrounds and ethnicities: Hispanic, White, Asian and African-American.
The parents of students involved have been invited to participate.  The students are meeting periodically to hear different professionals speak about their career paths.  The speakers have included attorneys, police officers and judges.  The program includes leadership training and college campus visits.  The mentors will also assist students with college applications. Future sessions include etiquette, community service, professional panels, and parent outreach.

The program is already making a difference.  One student said, “I really like hearing that people like me have made something of themselves.”

In the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District and at R. L. Turner, we encourage community involvement and mentoring.  Working with various professionals, groups, and organizations, we can make a difference in the lives of our students and accomplish our goal of high achievement for all students.