Following multiple open records requests sent about him, trustee Dr. Jun Xiao of the Round Rock Independent School District announced his intent to resign at the next regular board meeting. Documents received in response to these requests revealed complaints citizens filed against Xiao, as well as his hostile behavior toward a voter.
The district has appealed to Attorney General Ken Paxton a request for complaints filed against another board member.
Located 20 miles north of Austin, Round Rock ISD became the site of a nationwide scandal after coordinating with the Williamson County sheriff to have citizens Jeremy Story and Dustin Clark arrested last September. That act brought to light what Story and others had been confronting the board about: allegations that Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez assaulted his mistress.
Only trustees Danielle Weston and Mary Bone stood with citizens and tried to investigate, while the rest of the board circled the wagons around Azaiez. Public pressure continued to increase until, finally, the board voted 6-1 on January 6 to place Azaiez on paid leave and hire a third party to investigate him.
“I will resign at the next regular meeting,” Xiao announced on Facebook on January 28. He said his announcement was not related to the board’s decision the previous day, in which the board directed the investigator to complete his investigation of Azaiez and prepare a report for the board “on or before” its next regular meeting at the end of February. Xiao stated he disagreed with the board’s decision.
This is the second time Xiao announced his intent to resign; the first time was last August, after a board meeting where the majority voted to narrow the opt-out exemption to the district’s mask mandate. Five members, including Xiao, voted yes, while Bone and Weston voted no. After the vote, Xiao changed his mind and stayed on the board.
Stonewalling and Complaints Against Xiao
To investigate the district’s disturbing activities and abuse of power, Texas Scorecard sent the district multiple open records requests under the Texas Public Information Act.
Jacob Woolston, staff attorney for the district, argues in the letter that these communications contain information relating to a lawsuit filed against the district. He explicitly notes that these communications could be disclosed, since they are not confidential and therefore subject to mandatory redactions. Nevertheless, the district’s attorney asks, on behalf of the district, whether they have to turn the communications over.
He noted other information was being redacted under the federal Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The district did offer some transparency with another request regarding Xiao. On January 17, we requested “all grievances and/or complaints filed against” him.
“I received a very unprofessional and condescending email from Trustee Jun Xiao in response to my request for adequate seating at the Board of Trustees Meeting on 9/14/21,” a December 20 complaint from Round Rock citizen Christie Slape read.
The complaint contains a copy of her September 14 email to Azaiez and trustees about a “bizarre, remote seating arrangement” during the August 16 board meeting. “Parents and community members (tax payers) EXPECT full access to the Board of Trustees Meetings and to be seated in the presence of our elected Trustees.”
Xiao replied later that day.
“Board meeting is to get business done, not a theater show,” he wrote to Slape. “You can enjoy a packed party with your maskless friends privately.”
Slape wrote in her complaint that afterward, the district doubled down against citizens. “Following this email, I was denied entrance to the board meeting along with other parents when an arbitrary seating policy/’rule’ was enforced by RRISD Police.”
Slape also wrote that Xiao showed similar behavior to a fellow trustee, disrespecting her previous service to the nation. “Trustee Xiao often makes degrading remarks and unjustified attacks toward his female colleague, Trustee Weston,” Slape wrote. “The most recent verbal attack was on 12/16/21 when he demeaned her mention of her military service on 9/11.”
Keith Hendrickson, another Round Rock citizen, filed his own complaint against Xiao on August 27. “Trustee Xiao consistently calls out Trustees Bone and Weston in an effort to intimidate, undermine, discredit [them] even after receiving verbal warnings from Trustee/President Weir in public meetings,” he wrote.
He fails to tell the truth … verbally threatens and intimidates other Trustees and staff member on and off school property, failed to uphold all applicable laws, rules, policies, and governance procedures, encourages community members to work against the District and fellow Trustees.
Hendrickson and Slape asked that Xiao be censured. Slape also requested Xiao make a public apology to Weston, as well as a written apology for his email to Slape.
No decision is contained in the documents we received.
Complaints Against Another Trustee
While being forthcoming with complaints filed against Xiao, Round Rock ISD is fighting attempts to discover complaints against another board member.
On January 9, we sent an open records request for “all grievances and/or complaints filed against” trustee Amber Feller. Nine days later, Round Rock ISD appealed this request to Attorney General Paxton. “The District respectfully asserts, however, that certain information is not public under the [Public Information] Act, and therefore not subject to disclosure … and therefore may be withheld at the discretion of the District,” their appeal read.
The next regular board meeting, when Xiao said he intends to resign, is February 17 at 5:30 p.m.
Round Rock ISD has stated that when a board member resigns, the other trustees can either call a special election or appoint someone to complete his or her term.
This article has been updated since publication.