TARRANT COUNTY—As Gov. Greg Abbott has called on the Texas Legislature to pass school choice legislation, the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District superintendent is asking parents to oppose the effort.

An email leaked by an anonymous whistleblower revealed Jim F. Chadwell, superintendent of EMSISD for 12 years, urging parents to call lawmakers and tell them to vote against school choice. 

“This message comes with a sense of urgency on actions in our state legislature of which all Texans should take notice,” reads Chadwell’s email. “The Texas Legislature has begun a special session promoted, in part, as a focus on public education.” 

Chadwell then claimed the “focus is not about providing adequate funding or support for public education, but rather how to deconstruct public education in Texas through the implementation of school vouchers/education savings accounts.” 

He said school choice, which he referred to as vouchers, “divert public school funds to subsidize private and home schools.”He then agreed that parents should have the right to decide which form of education is best for their children. However, “the responsibility of paying for non-public school alternatives has rested on us as parents and not on the State or other taxpayers.” 

According to Chadwell, “the basic allotment of $6,160 per student has not increased since 2019. During that same time, inflation has increased approximately 19%.” Instead of school choice, he lobbied for an increase in government school funding.

“Since it’s not included as a topic for the session, they cannot approve legislation to adequately fund our public schools unless it is added by the Governor,” wrote Chadwell. “They are authorized, however, to approve legislation to divert funds away from our public schools in the form of vouchers toward private and home schools.” 

Notably, Gov. Abbott said on Thursday, “Once ESAs are passed, I will put on the legislative call the funding for public education, including teacher pay raises. 

The Senate passed Senate Bill 2 to accomplish that. SB 2 will provide a $10,000 raise for rural teachers and a $3,000 raise for urban teachers. It will also double both the per-student and per-campus school safety allotments.” 

The superintendent then claimed legislators are being “threatened with primary election opponents if they do not vote in favor of vouchers.” 

“We must let our legislators know that we stand behind them and expect them to vote NO on vouchers,” encouraged Chadwell. 

Chadwell also included a link to find local elected officials and their contact information for parents to engage with them. 

“I know this is a lot to ask during such a busy time of the school year, but truly the future of public education in Texas is at stake right now,” he concluded. 

The anonymous whistleblower was upset.  

“I am disturbed that the Superintendent of the district is allowed to use the taxpayer-funded email system to directly lobby parents and call them to action to engage with their legislators,” the whistleblower said. 

According to the whistleblower, EMSISD is in a relatively conservative part of the state, quipping that, “if this is happening in a conservative part of the state, imagine what is happening in more liberal areas of the state.” 

As of publication, the district did not respond to a request for comment.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.