ROUND ROCK — The contentious months-long story continues in the “safe and suburban” Central Texas school district.
On Thursday, the Round Rock Independent School District board of trustees met behind closed doors to discuss the status of the district’s investigation into recently hired superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez—who has been accused of domestic violence—and potentially fire him.
The allegations against Azaiez first surfaced last summer and led to months of public outcry and incidents that made national headlines—including a temporary restraining order against Azaiez; ongoing investigations by the Texas Education Agency, school district, and Travis County Sheriff’s Office; and the school board ignoring and allegedly covering up the accusations, blocking parents from public meetings, and arresting concerned citizens.
Texas Scorecard chronicled the saga in a recent special report and exclusive podcast series.
“I’m not here to judge [Azaiez] and say he should go to jail or not. That’s up to the police,” one citizen testified at a board meeting earlier this month. “But what we have is an issue that he needs to step aside for, and let us get back to doing the business that we’re here to do—which is educating kids, right?”
At the end of Thursday night’s meeting, the school board came back into the public board room and voted 5-2 to “direct the district’s designated investigator to conclude the investigation and prepare a report on or before the next regular scheduled board meeting [at the end of February],” while the result of the state government investigation remains to be seen.
Citizens who testified to the board during the public comment time again called them out for the series of events.
“We’ve now heard of many allegations and the severity of them, concerns which arose in July of 2021,” said high school student Emma Ray. “These concerns are terrible if true, especially as a community who is actively in support of women and women’s rights. So why did it take a matter of months to even feel it was necessary to investigate these allegations?”
“I’m a domestic violence survivor myself. I take this very personal that we didn’t fully vet the superintendent before making this hire,” another citizen added.
“Your job was to hire the best candidate for superintendent and you—[board trustees] Xiao, who’s not here; Vessa; Feller; Weir; and Harrison—failed us all because you five willfully chose to disregard allegations of assault, lack of experience, and the numerous requests from the community to pause the hiring process to vet him more thoroughly. How is that working out?” said district citizen Christie Slape. “You have egregiously wasted time, taxpayer resources, and your credibility trying to save face and sweep this ordeal under the rug. It’s over. Pull the plug.”