Disaster Recovery Done Right: Trust Atlas for Commercial Water Damage Restoration in Josephine, TX.
When you own a business, property damage is an unfortunate occurrence that happens all too often. Property damage can be caused by any number of disasters, both natural and man-made. Most often, however, property damage happens from an excess of water. From very heavy rainstorms to broken pipes, water damage can be incredibly harmful not just for your storefront but for your customers.
When water spreads through your commercial property, it happens quickly, causing damage as it moves. At the same time, furnishings and porous materials soak up moisture. In just a short amount of time, you could be dealing with warping, rotting, and even mold growth. That's why water damage remediation is so important - to address your current damage and prevent water from making your business unsafe.
At Atlas National Renovations, we know that dealing with water damage seems like a losing effort on your own. But when you trust our water damage restoration team, you don't have to lose hope. We provide comprehensive water remediation services for businesses of all size in Texas. From the first time we lay eyes on your water damage to the time we mitigate your problem, we're here for you. With a team of IICRC certified technicians and innovative restoration tools at our disposal, we specialize in making your business safe again.
Unlike some of our competitors, we are fiercely dedicated to our clients and aim to exceed their expectations with the highest quality water damage restoration services in Josephine, TX. When water damage hits your business, time is of the essence, which is why we get to work quickly and efficiently by assessing the damage to your property. Once we know the extent of your water damage, we'll consult with you about its severity and detail the next steps you should take so you can make an informed purchasing decision.
With decades of combined experience, there is no disaster cleanup project too complex or large for our team to handle. We assist small businesses, large commercial entities, and even multi-family apartment complexes. Our clients trust Atlas National Renovations to keep them dry, safe, and secure, and it would be our pleasure to help do the same for you.
In addition to our reliability and quality of work, our customers choose us over others because we offer:
- Disaster Recovery Done Right: Trust Atlas for Commercial Water Damage Restoration in Josephine, TX.
- What is Water Damage Restoration in in Josephine, TX
- Common Signs of Commercial Water Damage in Josephine, TX
- Benefits of Commercial Water Damage Restoration in Josephine, TX
- Capital Expenditure Services
- Multi-Family Building Deficiencies and Restoration Services
- Discover the Atlas Difference
Fair, Accurate Work Estimates
We drain water from your property, not money from your bank account.
Clear, Constant Communication
When you work with Atlas, you're never left wondering what's happening with your commercial property.
Detailed Deadlines and Schedules
We're meticulous about sticking to schedules and meeting deadlines. You can always expect us to be on time and ready to work.
Experienced Project Managers
We assign seasoned, hardworking project managers for each of our projects. When you work with Atlas, you're working with the best.
Courteous and Knowledgeable Leadership
Excellence starts at the top, and our leadership team is the best in the business.
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What is Water Damage Restoration in in Josephine, TX
If you're currently dealing with serious water damage from a flood, broken pipe, or other cause, you're probably not sure what to do next. While it's understandable to feel panicky, it's important that you have the water removed as quickly as possible. When structural damage and health hazards are at play, time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the worse the damage will get. The damage you see with your eyes is usually the tip of the iceberg - most water damage gets deep in your carpets and walls fast.
Atlas' water damage restoration services are focused on restoring and repairing the damage that water causes to commercial property. The primary purpose of our restoration services is to return your property to the condition it was in prior to the damage. Once your water damage has been mitigated, our team swoops in to begin the restoration process.
Depending on the scope and severity of your water damage, common water damage restoration services can include:
- Damaged Flooring and Wall Replacement
- Damaged Roof Restoration
- Mold Remediation
- Humidity and Moisture Testing
While little can be done to predict natural disasters, there are common signs you can keep an eye on to prevent serious water damage from occurring.
Common Signs of Commercial Water Damage in Josephine, TX
There's no convenient time to be sidelined with water damage when it comes to your commercial property and business. Water damage to your commercial or industrial property is particularly devastating because every hour that your business is closed means lost revenue and productivity. You do not just have to deal with damage to the structural integrity of your building - you have to deal with the disruption of service to your loyal customers.
The good news? Atlas is here when you need us most, with a team of highly-trained technicians and unmatched water damage restoration expertise. We're ready to tackle your problem and solve it in an efficient, effective manner, so you can keep your doors open and your clients happy.
As a business owner, you know that one of the best ways to prevent a disaster is to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. For that reason, keep an eye out for the following signs of water damage to your commercial property:
Look for Mold:
Mold can begin to grow just a day or two after water has taken hold of your business. If you see small signs of mold growth in an area where you suspect a leak, contact Atlas National Renovations ASAP to diagnose the problem.
Check Your Pipes:
If it's safe to do so, check out the piping inside and outside your commercial property. You want to keep a keen eye out for oxidation and corrosion around pipe fixtures. While you're at it, check your water heater for rust too. Corrosion or rust is a telltale sign of a water leak.
Check for Rings:
Dark spots on walls and ceilings usually indicate water damage. If you see rings around a stain, the damage is probably older. Several rings with different shades of color mean an intermittent issue, where the area has been soaked and dried several times.
Understand Your Property:
This is more of a suggestion than a sign. As the commercial property owner, you should know your building's pipe system. You should know what is old and new and what areas may be at risk for water damage. Keep an extra-close eye on areas that have a higher potential for leaks, especially during rainstorms.
Benefits of Commercial Water Damage Restoration
in Josephine, TX
When water invades your business or commercial property, you don't have much time to ponder your next course of action. While some business owners opt to try DIY water damage restoration, in most cases, they end up with more damage and expenses than before their leak. For the most effective, comprehensive solution to water damage, it's important that you hire a professional. At Atlas National Renovations, our primary focus is assisting business owners and commercial property managers with water damage restoration. We've been doing it for years, and we can help you too.
Here are just a few of the most common benefits we hear from past customers:
Safe Shopping Experience
If you own a business, the health and safety of your customers is of utmost importance. When water damage occurs inside your storefront, you could be dealing with more than property damage. Depending on the severity of your issue, contaminants and microorganisms may be present, putting your customers' health at risk. When you trust a professional water damage restoration company like Atlas to remediate your water leak, you're not just putting a stop to the leak. Our team will clean and sanitize your business, making it safe for customers to continue shopping at your store.
Quick Response Time
Water damage can create unbearable conditions in your commercial property. As such, your water restoration company must be quick to respond. Professional water damage companies like Atlas respond quickly and can clean up water, dry and disinfect the area, and make necessary repairs. Because we have an entire team of pros and industry-leading equipment, we can be on site in minutes.
Less Damage, Better Costs
Water damage can be very expensive. Sometimes, it only takes a couple of hours to result in heavy losses. How soon you call the experts could mean the difference between painting over a water stain and having to rebuild an entire area of damaged drywall. When you call Atlas immediately, clients often reduce the cost of water damage restoration and overall building damage.
Capital Expenditure Services
In addition to our disaster recovery services, we also offer large-scale upgrades and improvements for your capital expenditures. If you own or manage a large commercial building or a multi-family property, you need to make sure your capital expenditures maintain present operating levels and foster your company's future growth.
At Atlas National Renovations, class A, B, and C properties are our bread and butter. We take the time to understand our customer's needs and expectations from the start so we can deliver outstanding results. If you're looking for a top-tier contractor to do the job right the first time, look no further than Atlas. Our customers love our team because we make large, highly-complicated projects easy to finish.
If you're looking to invest in the future of your business, know that we are here to help with projects like these:
- High Volume Unit Upgrades and Improvements
- Amenity Upgrades and Conversions
- Common Area Improvements
- High Volume Carpet, LVT, and Tile Installation
- Courtyards and Hardscapes
- Package Room and Mail Center Upgrades and Additions
- Fitness Center Upgrades and Improvements
- Dog Parks and Pet Stations
- Signage Improvements and Additions
- LED Lighting and Electrical Upgrades
Multi-Family Building Deficiencies and Restoration Services
New multi-family properties are entering the market every day. That means that older communities must be renovated to keep up with modern demands and tenant needs. Upgrades to amenities, aesthetics and even structural changes help assets stay up-to-date. At the same time, damages from leaks and storms must be addressed. If you're a multi-family property manager or owner, and need unmatched restoration capability, Atlas National Renovations is here to serve you.
We specialize in cutting-edge, high-quality ways to achieve your renovation goals - for your tenants but also for your corporate leaders and management team. After all, a successful multi-family renovation benefits all parties.
We currently work with the top multi-family groups across our state. Unlike some multi-family renovation companies in Texas, our team understands the inner workings of the multi-family environment. Our customers appreciate our accommodations to their residents, maintenance team, leasing team, corporate leaders, and beyond. We're proud to say we know multi-family, inside and out, and have the credentials to back up those claims.
When crafting a multi-family restoration plan, we always consider your tenant's demographics, your building's curb appeal, property age, and energy efficiency. Whether you need to have significant updates applied to an older property or need a water damage inspection for a brand-new building, we can help.
Here is a quick glance at some of the multi-family renovations that our team handles:
- Leak Detection and Water Intrusion Investigation
- Exterior Sealants and Waterproofing
- Large Interior and Exterior Paint Projects
- Stucco Remediation and Exterior Facade Re-Clads
- Full Property Exterior Repaints
- Concrete and Flatwork
- Corridor and Common Area Painting
- Roof Replacement
Before / After
Slide left and right
Water damage restoration is a crucial, complex process that must be completed properly to save your business from serious damage. Choosing the right professional is equally important, especially when your customers' health is on the line. Whether you need large-scale commercial restoration or quick, effective water damage cleanup for your storefront business, know that we are only a phone call away. Contact our friendly team of experts to learn more about Atlas National Renovations and how we clean up your water damage mess better than the rest.214-814-4300
Latest News in Josephine, TX
Why Dallas Native Josephine Decker Embraced a Virtual Release for Shirley
Everything was lined up for Josephine Decker. Two years after breaking through on the art-house circuit with Madeline’s Madeline, the Park Cities native was ready for something bigger.The filmmaker’s latest project, a haunting portrait of famed but troubled author Shirley Jackson, starring Elisabeth Moss, had garnered acclaim on the festival circui...
Everything was lined up for Josephine Decker. Two years after breaking through on the art-house circuit with Madeline’s Madeline, the Park Cities native was ready for something bigger.
The filmmaker’s latest project, a haunting portrait of famed but troubled author Shirley Jackson, starring Elisabeth Moss, had garnered acclaim on the festival circuit and was primed for a theatrical release this spring.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted distributor NEON to pivot the release exclusively to digital platforms. While some directors might view that move as a consolation prize, however, Decker enthusiastically gave her blessing.
“I was excited about doing an unconventional release during this time when people are seeking connection through entertainment,” Decker said. “I love going to the cinema and connecting with work there, but I’ve grown up in such an indie-film world that I’ve never made movies that were playing in [wide release]. When you’re one of the first films to come out this way, it’s a story.”
The film is an intimate glimpse into the artistic process that finds Shirley (Moss) battling mental illness, alcoholism, agoraphobia, and other afflictions while living in Vermont in the 1960s. She’s visited by an aspiring writer (Odessa Young) whose husband (Logan Lerman) has landed a job alongside Shirley’s outspoken professor husband (Michael Stuhlbarg). As the relationship between the two women deepens, it affects Shirley’s work in surprising ways.
“It never felt like a biopic. We’re not trying to tell her entire life story,” Decker said. “I feel really grateful that we got the chance to delve into Shirley’s storytelling the way that we did. She’s such a genius. You cycle through a bunch of different realities when you’re inside of her work.”
Decker said she had just finished reading one of the author’s most famous horror works, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, when she received the screenplay by playwright Sarah Gubbins, which is based on Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel.
Then Decker spent a year reshaping the script with Gubbins prior to production. By carefully mixing fantasy and reality, she tried to strike a balance between Shirley’s unsympathetic nature and viewers’ need for an emotional entry point.
“We wanted to make the film feel more like a Shirley Jackson story,” Decker said. “There’s definitely a coldness to her. She’s a character who creates a lot of distance around her, so we have these moments where we could feel her writing and feel more connected to Shirley, and feel that we were going through something with her.”
During a time when people are watching more movies at home than ever before, Decker is confident Shirley can find an audience. She hopes the film prompts a resurgence in the popularity of Jackson’s books, too.
“I hope that connecting to Shirley’s story of being locked up in her house is something that, to some degree, a lot of people can relate to,” Decker said. “The house and the people in it, she finds a whole world to explore that unlocks her. Maybe similarly, something will come unlocked for the viewers of our film, and also connect them to her writing. If you really want to leave your body, go into a Shirley Jackson story.”
State finds five-day isolations, missing records at Dallas juvenile center
A state investigation found that children were being improperly held in isolation for disciplinary reasons in the county’s juvenile detention center for as long as five days.State juvenile staff told the Dallas County Juvenile Board in a meeting Friday that staff at the center have been tacking on days of disciplinary isolation to the usual period where the county is allowed to hold children in isolation for the safety of others for up to four hours, but that additional time is in violation of state standards and without legally...
A state investigation found that children were being improperly held in isolation for disciplinary reasons in the county’s juvenile detention center for as long as five days.
State juvenile staff told the Dallas County Juvenile Board in a meeting Friday that staff at the center have been tacking on days of disciplinary isolation to the usual period where the county is allowed to hold children in isolation for the safety of others for up to four hours, but that additional time is in violation of state standards and without legally required due process.
State inspectors toured the facility in July at juvenile director Darryl Beatty’s request, reviewing whether the detention center was compliant with state standards.
“What we found was a broken process,” the state’s deputy executive director of probation services, Lou Serrano, told the board at a meeting. “Without the proper documentation — because they weren’t recording it as disciplinary seclusion — it’s hard to go back to logs and see.”
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The state did cite 13 violations.
At the meeting, Dallas County Commissioner Andrew Sommerman, who also sits on the juvenile board, began to ask questions about the isolation children faced at the center, but Serrano and Beatty said he’d have to wait for the results of a larger investigation the state is conducting before he could get answers.
“This one’s a bit more broad than what they usually have done, because they’re looking at more general abuse/neglect concerns rather than just one in particular,” Beatty said.
The Dallas Morning News previously reported that families and guards said children were being kept in their cells alone for up to 23 hours a day. They alleged that children rarely went outside, were given subpar medical care and received poor nutrition.
The state then opened its investigation into allegations of neglect. That Texas Juvenile Justice Department investigation is ongoing, Beatty told the board, saying the investigation could take up to 90 days.
Beatty told the board Friday that he first became aware that children were being held in cells longer than the department would like after Sommerman toured the facility and spoke to a child who said he’d been in his cell all day.
He also said that he first heard about children being held in seclusion for lengthy periods when interviewed by The News, and that he spoke about the allegations with his staff the following day.
“That’s something that we realized — that we had kids behind the door when they shouldn’t be,” he told the board.
State standards allow for a child to be placed in “safety-based seclusion” when they are determined to be a threat to staff or another child, but a child can only be in seclusion for up to four hours, Serrano said.
In Dallas, once a child was removed from safety-based seclusion, inspectors found that the child was then placed in a “special needs unit,” where they could be isolated for up to five more days.
Inspectors labeled Dallas’ policy as “disciplinary seclusion” that more than doubled the state limit of up to 48 hours.
State inspectors asked for a small, random batch of cases to review. Due to poor documentation, inspectors said they had to rely on staff and childrens’ interviews about the “disciplinary seclusion.”
Beatty said the “special needs unit” has since been disbanded. Now, once children are released, they are returned to the general population, but placed in a different unit than the one where the behavior occurred that prompted staff to place them in isolation.
Sommerman said he still wants to know whether children were routinely stuck in their rooms for most of the day for reasons beyond discipline or safety reasons. Serrano said that is something state investigators are reviewing.
In July, state investigators also found that five children told inspectors that they were not given an opportunity to shower daily, as code requires. Beatty told board members that there is now a rotating schedule to ensure all children get a shower once a day.
Inspectors said detention guards had not been checking in frequently enough on children placed on high-suicide watch and moderate-suicide watch. Beatty said that staff were unable to locate some observation sheets that inspectors requested.
He told the board that staff members have put a plan in place to “beef up” how these cases are documented and where documents are stored.
Inspectors also found that children were not given 10 hours of “structured and unstructured activities” throughout the day as state standards require. Parents who spoke to their children while they were in the detention center told The News that while the kids were in their cells, they did nothing.
Beatty told the board that officials are looking to ensure that there is a program in place with activities for 10 hours of the day and that staff will document it.
Of the seven juvenile board members present, only Sommerman, County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins and Cheryl Shannon — juvenile board chair and a juvenile court judge — asked Beatty and Serrano questions during the meeting.
All of the cited violations are no longer occurring and the county’s plans for improvement had been approved, Serrano said.
Commissioners v. department
Beatty included in his own presentation a request for six new positions and that three workers get new titles and possible raises to address the violations outlined in the inspection report. Sommerman said he was open to working with the department to get whatever is needed.
“We want you to have the staff you need to fix this problem,” Sommerman said.
Shannon then asked Sommerman if commissioners were still withholding raises for the top 13 department officials. He said yes.
Shannon declined to comment after the meeting.
Beatty told The News after the presentation that he hopes the juvenile department can move forward to ensure the best conditions for children and show the public that he and his staff are working to correct problems.
“Nobody can do this on an island,” he said.
Sommerman said in an interview after the meeting that commissioners want to work with the juvenile department to improve the conditions at the center. He also confirmed that the commissioners court is appealing a judge’s ruling in a lawsuit between the commissioners and the juvenile department in which the juvenile department refused to turn over records that may show in detail how long children were being held in isolation.
A district judge determined last month that the commissioners court did not have legal standing to request these records from the department. The commissioners’ court argued that as the branch of county government that approves the budget, commissioners do have that right.
. Josephine covers Dallas County, its jail and juvenile justice system. She returned to her hometown to join The Dallas Morning News in 2022 after previously working at The Tacoma News Tribune in Washington and The News Journal in Delaware. In her free time, Josephine enjoys kayaking with her dog, Dougal.
New Gulf Coast Seafood Restaurant Shakes Up the Midtown Scene With a Jimmy Kimmel Connection — Josephine’s Replaces an Old Favorite
Izakaya Could Also Come Back to Lifephotography Ally Hardgrave Save Article14Raw oysters, cocktail sauce, mignonette, horseradish, hot sauce and crackers are served at the oyster bar inside the new Josephine's restaurant in Midtown. (Photo by Ally Hardgrave )Whether you call yourself a Southerner by birth or just happen later in life to find yourself residing south of the Mason Dixon line, you might want to consider heading to Josephine’s, a new Southern-style Gulf Coast restaurant in Housto...
Izakaya Could Also Come Back to Life
photography Ally Hardgrave
Raw oysters, cocktail sauce, mignonette, horseradish, hot sauce and crackers are served at the oyster bar inside the new Josephine's restaurant in Midtown. (Photo by Ally Hardgrave )
Whether you call yourself a Southerner by birth or just happen later in life to find yourself residing south of the Mason Dixon line, you might want to consider heading to Josephine’s, a new Southern-style Gulf Coast restaurant in Houston, for a taste of a varied food with roots that spread far and wide. Created by the Azuma group, Josephine’s resides in the former spot where Izakaya once stood in Midtown. (Izakaya fans don’t despair, we’re told that the powers-that-be are searching for the right locale in Houston to relocate the popular restaurant.)
Josephine’s features Gulf Coast food that celebrates the Southern long-held family traditions of Mississippi-born executive chef Lucas McKinney and Louisiana native Joseph Ramirez, the new restaurant’s general manager. Named after Lucas’s great-grandmother with a nod to a steamship with the same name that shipwrecked in the Gulf of Mexico, Josephine’s serves ingredient-forward Gulf Coast food.
“We’re serving what we know,” Lucas says. “We’re proud to be stewards of Gulf Coast ingredients and traditions — honoring generations past while creating new traditions for the future. We love telling stories of the people we learned from, the people we source from and the people who inspire us.”
Lucas moved to Houston in 2018 and worked for Chris Shepherd as part of the Georgia James opening team, was sous chef at Hay Merchant and chef de cuisine at GJ Tavern. In addition, he spent a season as the chef at Jimmy Kimmel’s Southfork Lodge in Idaho before returning to Houston. Ramirez — a native of Metairie, Louisiana — was most recently managing the Houston’s famed Japanese restaurant Kata Robata.
With Josephine’s decor fashioned by Nest Interiors, the popular dumpling bar has been transformed into an oyster bar featuring both chilled and roasted Gulf Coast oysters. The dark reds and color-splashed murals inside have been replaced with rustic wood accents, painted tin ceilings, hex mosaic floors and vintage light fixtures. Cozy banquettes run throughout the indoor and outdoor seating areas, while a gallery wall is filled with collected art and mementos from Lucas’ and Joseph’s families.
The Josephine’s menu features seafood sourced predominantly from the Gulf. This includes smoked redfish dip ($15), blue crab fingers ($18) and a royal red shrimp salad ($18). Snacks — think house-made biscuits with onion jam ($12) and hushpuppies with a pickled jalapeno tartar sauce ($12) — will be served alongside a selection of small plates meant to be shared. In a nod to Lucas’ days cooking in Oxford, Mississippi, the chicken on a stick — an Ole Miss tradition — is a deep-fried chicken tender on a stick (easier for walking from party to party) served with buttermilk ranch for dipping ($13).
In addition to classic po’boys, Lucas is particularly excited about the crabmeat melt po’boy dubbed The Biloxi inspired by the Vancleave Special ($18), a blue crab patty with American cheese that originated in the late 1940s at Rosetti’s Cafe in Biloxi. At $1.75, legend has it was the most expensive sandwich that Mr. Rosetti ever sold. You’ll also find a smashed boudin melt ($15) on the menu with pepper jack cheese and onions on Texas toast too.
Fans of a good Southern boil, can indulge in a variety of boiled seafood at Josephine’s from peel-and-eat shrimp to snow crab clusters to crawfish boils served in the classic style or with a wet sauce ($4), all market priced.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the shrimp and grits ($24) studded with bacon and mushrooms in a sauce Creole, the bavette steak ($40) made with R-C Ranch raised Texas Wagyu napped with seafood butter and Southern-style sides like collard beans ($7), red beans and rice ($8), and chicken and andouille gumbo ($10).
Pastry chef Emily Rivas has designed a nostalgic dessert menu featuring Southern favorites like her take on Mississippi mud pie and the oatmeal moon pie. This pie is a hybrid of Lucas’s two childhood favorites — the oatmeal cream pie and the moon pie.
There is also a corn flan topped with cornflake clusters that will be featured when corn is at its peak season.
Josephine’s is located at 318 Gray Street. It is open from 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Teachers Strong-Armed to Get on Board with Houston Schools Takeover
In the packed cafeteria of Pugh Elementary School Tuesday evening, Houston Independent School District (HISD) Superintendent Mike Miles worked hard to sell his wholesale campus reform program, called the New Education System (NES), to a resistant crowd, some holding signs that read “Our Children, Our Schools.” Miles boasted that 57 campuses had voluntarily opted into the program.“They love this,” Miles said. “That’s why teachers at 57 schools volunteered.”As part of the state’s ta...
In the packed cafeteria of Pugh Elementary School Tuesday evening, Houston Independent School District (HISD) Superintendent Mike Miles worked hard to sell his wholesale campus reform program, called the New Education System (NES), to a resistant crowd, some holding signs that read “Our Children, Our Schools.” Miles boasted that 57 campuses had voluntarily opted into the program.
“They love this,” Miles said. “That’s why teachers at 57 schools volunteered.”
As part of the state’s takeover of HISD—which ousted an elected school board and replaced its leadership with a board of managers and a superintendent handpicked by State Education Commissioner Mike Morath—Miles has previously said that 150 HISD schools would be under the NES by 2025. In March, the Texas Education Agency seized control of HISD, citing past failures to meet state standards at one high school. In addition to the schools that opted in, another 28 were required to participate because the schools are elementary and middle schools with students who “feed into” three high schools with lower accountability ratings.
NES originates from the Third Future Schools, a charter school network Miles founded. It requires teachers to teach from a scripted curriculum. The district will decide campus schedules, staffing, and budgets. Students who are considered disruptive are pulled out of the classroom to attend via Zoom. In addition, Miles has promised teachers support for grading, making copies, small-group instruction, and a stipend of $10,000. Salary schedules for teachers at what he calls “NES-aligned schools,” or those that opted in, will remain the same while teachers at NES-mandated schools receive a salary bump and have to reapply for their jobs. As part of the sweeping changes, last Friday Miles eliminated up to 600 administrative positions from the central office.
Since the Texas Education Agency appointed Miles to lead the school district, he has faced community protests by citizens opposed to the state agency’s takeover. But he has maintained that schools are embracing his changes.
But interviews, email correspondence, and audio recordings of campus meetings that the Texas Observer obtained contradict Miles’ public relations message that there is widespread teacher support for his program. Teachers, parents, and community members from nine of the 57 schools we spoke to said they had no opportunity to weigh in; teachers were threatened with losing their jobs if their campus did not join the program.
“Our hours will change. Our schedules will change. Our curriculum will change. But we have no input in it,” said Michelle Collins, a teacher at DeZavala Elementary School. “Neither do parents.”
According to the state education law, a Shared Decision Making Committee (SDMC) composed of parents, community representatives, teachers, other campus personnel, and a business representative is required to be “involved in decisions in the areas of planning, budgeting, curriculum, staffing patterns, staff development, and school organization.”
While Miles has publicly asked principals to obtain school input, SDMC committee members from five schools in the program confirmed with the Observer that they never met to discuss the issue. SDMC members and teachers from other schools reported that even when they did meet, they did not have a vote in the decision. One teacher said their staff voted not to opt in, but then later saw their school’s name included in the list of 57 schools in the news.
In an audio recording of Wainwright Elementary School’s SDMC meeting held July 10 and shared with the Observer, Principal Michelle Lewis told committee members, “If you’re not willing to dive in and do this with us, then this is not the campus for you.” No teacher representatives attended the meeting.
Revere Middle School Principal Gerardo Medina did not consult with the school’s SDMC committee or with teachers. In lieu of discussion, he sent out an email on June 29 to campus employees informing them of his decision to join Miles’ NES-aligned program.
“If you decide this is not something you want to commit to, you will be allowed to transfer,” Medina wrote.
This gave teachers only a few days before this Friday to decide if they want to continue to work within the district. To avoid losing their state teaching certification, they have up to 45 days before the first day of school to withdraw from their contract. Miles, however, has said teachers can continue to transfer within the district after the deadline.
HISD sidestepped parents and teachers’ complaint that they were not included in the decision making, and responded to the Observer via email, saying, “Principals at the 57 NESA schools were asked to consult with their teachers, faculty, and staff prior to opting in and after doing so, were ready to take bold action to improve outcomes for all students and eradicate the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps in the district.”
During campus meetings about Miles’ NES program, teachers raised common concerns: staffing shortages, staffing, and program cuts, longer work hours, and the loss of autonomy to tailor their curriculum to diverse students.
Miles has promised teachers they could focus all their time on instruction. But parents and teachers the Observer spoke to questioned if there were enough teachers, particularly certified teachers who are trained and have accreditation, to fill those positions when the district has struggled to fill vacancies.
“I cannot see how any of that is actually going to come to fruition when you can’t find classroom teachers in a regular situation,” Collins said.
Ellen, a teacher at M.C. Williams Middle School, who requested we use her middle name for fear of retaliation, said her school recently lost five teachers to other NES-mandated schools offering higher salaries. They still have uncertified teachers filling vacant positions.
Elective teachers also expressed concerns about losing their jobs. While Miles has promised that existing magnet and elective programs will not be supplanted by NES’ “dyad program” of uncertified, independent contractors teaching music and art, a school staffing model Miles provided principals shows that the number of elective teacher positions are limited according to the school population. For example, campuses with 450 to 600 students will only have six elective teachers, including P.E. teachers.
Additionally, teachers expressed misgivings about working longer hours—at least 5 hours more per week are required under the program—even with the promise of a $10,000 stipend. Juan Carlos Suarez said his principal at Bonner Elementary did not tell the staff about the longer workday.
“They only gave us the schedules for the kids, which is shorter,” Suarez said. He added that teachers were told students were not to have any downtime. “To not give kids any downtime, for them to be productive every single second, or have any breathing room, it’s like we’re training them to be prisoners.”
Teachers reported feeling pressured by potential job loss to get on board. Echoing what Miles told school principals at a meeting last Thursday, teachers shared that they were told that if any school in their elementary to high school feeder pattern did not meet the state’s standards, then all schools would have to be reconstituted. Like the 28 schools mandated to join Miles’ NES program, campus employees would have to reapply for their jobs the following school year.
“The threat was if you’re not opted in, and your school becomes NES mandated, your faculty has to go through the whole rehiring and interview process all over again,” Collins said.
Wainwright Principal Michelle Lewis said in the audio recording, “We have been promised we do not have to reconstitute. … You gotta buy into what we’re doing to keep the job.”
Parents and teachers we spoke to expressed that, with all the required changes, they felt ill-informed and ill-prepared for the next school year, which begins in six weeks.
“How are we trying to roll this out in August when we can’t answer any questions related to the day-to-day functioning of a building,” Collins said.
Ellen reiterated Collin’s concern: “We have no idea what we’re walking into when those doors open.”
Uphill Battle: An Ex-Fire Chief's Fight To Stay Alive
Dallas, TX Patchhttps://patch.com/texas/dallas-ftworth/uphill-battle-ex-fire-chiefs-fight-stay-alive
Cameron Brooks served as Josephine's volunteer fire chief for 15 years before an illness flipped his life upside down.|Updated Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 6:52 pm CTJOSEPHINE, TX — Cameron Brooks's face is well known in the town of Josephine, which sits some 40 miles to Dallas' northeast. Having served as fire chief in the rural town for 15 years, Cameron, who goes by Cam, has interacted with nearly every resident of the town, be it through his duties as volunteer fire chief or one of the many annual events the department puts ...
Cameron Brooks served as Josephine's volunteer fire chief for 15 years before an illness flipped his life upside down.
|Updated Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 6:52 pm CT
JOSEPHINE, TX — Cameron Brooks's face is well known in the town of Josephine, which sits some 40 miles to Dallas' northeast. Having served as fire chief in the rural town for 15 years, Cameron, who goes by Cam, has interacted with nearly every resident of the town, be it through his duties as volunteer fire chief or one of the many annual events the department puts on for the town.
But since January 2018 his usual presence has been missing from the steel building on W. Hubbard Street that houses the fire department.
Cam was diagnosed with a serious liver condition only 10 days after Christmas and, in the four months since that date, everything has changed.
Cam joined the fire department 15 years ago, when the department's meager equipment still sat in a shabby quonset hut. Since that time, and under his leadership, the department has grown to include some 23 volunteer firefighters, two brush trucks and a fire engine.
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Cam, like the many other men and women who work for the Josephine VFD, wasn't paid for his duties with the department.
Patti Brooks, Cam's sister-in-law and Josephine's city secretary, has known Cam for more than 10 years.
She was already working for the city when he came on as the department's chief, long before the transformation that made the department what it is today.
"Cam turned this fire department around, got it reorganized, got the reputation back," Patti told Patch. "He was just a huge part of making this fire department what it is."
But Patti's story with Cam is more than a friendship formed at work. Ask any member of the Brooks family, and they can all tell the same story of the night Cam and his wife, Julie, introduced Patti to her now-husband, Andy.
Cam said his brother Andy was recently divorced when he got the idea to set him with Patti. So he and Julie met Patti and Andy at The Lone Star Roadhouse, a cafe and bar in Dallas, where they saw a live band.
"They hit it off real well," Cam told Patch. "The very first night, it was kind of like a set up because my brother was coming off a divorce. They hit it off that night and had a blast. Next thing I know, they were getting married not too long after that."
Patti's rendition of the story echoes that of Cam's.
"They took Andy and I out to see [a band at] The Lone Star," she said. "We went out with Cam and Julie, and the rest is history. But even before I met Andy, I always loved Cam."
It never mattered to Cam that he wasn't receiving a paycheck from the fire department, but he still had to make ends meet for his family.
So, through the years, Cam has worked for Collin County Animal Services and Julie for the local school district, Community ISD, as a bus monitor.
Cam resigned from the department only days before his eventual diagnosis but after months of watching his own health decline.
"Well before January, he was run down and didn't feel good and didn't want to do a lot of stuff," Julie said of Cam's health. "He'd rather just sit there and watch TV or hang around the house. I thought that was unusual."
His lethargy, they assumed, was a symptom of the type two diabetes he had been living with for years. But as his symptoms continued to worsen, he broke down and decided it was time to see a doctor.
"He started kind of changing," Julie said. "And finally, I believe it was Jan. 2 or 3, he said, 'okay you can call the doctor.' That's when it all started."
It was three days later that Cam learned he had a serious liver condition. The disease, Cam said, occurs randomly and causes the liver to fail and rot.
"It's pretty much just something that happened. Basically I pulled the short straw," he said.
Resigning from the department is not something Cam took lightly, and it's something he still seems to mourn.
In his interview with Patch, Cam specified, without being prompted, that, "I couldn't have asked for a better city [in which] to be a fire chief... I had to leave because of my health issues. I'm in real bad shape."
Not only did he leave behind his duties with the fire department, but he and Julie also moved away from Josephine entirely.
Cam said he knows a medical emergency can happen at any time, and he can't risk being taken to the wrong hospital in his condition.
Because he sees a specialty team of liver doctors in Richardson, he asked emergency responders in Josephine if they could take him to that specific hospital.
The ambulance service told Cam no, they could only take him to Hunt County Medical Center in Greenville.
So he and Julie made a preemptive move to live with their youngest daughter in Wylie, where ambulances can easily take him to Richardson.
Julie said the move has helped in more ways than one, and she now relies on the support of her daughter.
"I was really worried about us being by ourselves and everything," she said. "After the second [hospital stay], we went to our other daughter's for a while. That was a relief because there was somebody there to help me. Then we came [to Melanie's]. We have our own room. Cam can stay in there and watch TV; he can come in here and talk to the grandkids. He has a place to go and be alone if he needs to be."
Her daughter's support, Julie said, extends beyond physically helping care for Cam.
"It's been — I guess — a blessing to have her back me up any time I need the help — the support or whatever. Physically, mentally, emotionally — they're there. Our kids are awesome."
Cam visits regularly with his team of doctors, who are working now on securing his spot on a transplant list.
He has already undergone a psychological evaluation, but he still faces a series of tests he must undergo before he'll know if he has secured a spot on the waiting list.
In the meantime, he makes biweekly visits to have extra fluid drained from his abdomen. During his last visit, he said, doctors drained more than 18 pounds of excess fluid from his stomach.
He hopes to receive an affirmative answer about the transplant list by the end of April, but, even if the answer is yes, he'll have to wait for a compatible liver to come his way.
Once Cam receives his new liver, he'll be out of work for at least four months, Julie said. In that time, the Brooks family will be left to pay for insurance out of pocket in addition to covering other medical expenses.
That's why a friend of Cam created a GoFundMe page to help the family cover costs. (You can give to the GoFundMe page here.)
In the meantime, Julie is pleading for others to become organ donors.
"We really want people to know that donating your organs is amazing," she said. "I've been a donor for years."
One of Cam and Julie's daughters lives in Josephine, and the couple visit her when they can. Julie said she often sees her daughter between shifts at the school. And while she's happy to see the friendly faces of Josephine, she said she isn't ready to visit the city hall or fire department where Cam once worked.
"We don't go back to the fire department or city hall because it hurts," Julie said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Yesterday I stopped at the store to get a drink and — I'm sorry — we miss everybody and it hurts because we know it's not ours anymore. It's not our reality anymore. The same people are there and hanging out on the sidewalks and stuff like that, but it doesn't feel the same."
Julie said she is doing her best to stay strong for Cam, even as illness shakes the family.
"I haven't broke down and cried like I feel like I need to. I feel like if I let myself do that, I'm partially giving up on him. And I'll never give up on him. Never... He's an awesome man."
Lead image via GoFundM
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