ROUND ROCK — After months of outcry from the local Austin suburb community, the Round Rock Independent School District school board is meeting Wednesday to potentially discuss serious accusations against the newly hired superintendent, Dr. Hafedh Azaiez.
According to claims that surfaced earlier this summer, Azaiez allegedly had a mistress, demanded she get an abortion, and threatened her with violence when she refused.
After the woman approached RRISD trustees in July, Azaiez allegedly assaulted her.
Soon after, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Azaiez, and in August, RRISD board trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston—the only two on the seven-member board who have publicly advocated for transparency and parental rights in the district’s other recent tumultuous events—requested an immediate special board meeting to discuss the allegations.
However, the rest of the school board denied the request.
“[D]espite repeated requests, we have been denied. Even now, no meeting has been scheduled,” wrote Bone and Weston in an August press release.
“Criminal accusations against the superintendent that came to the entire board in a 7/23/2021 e-mail are worrisome,” the trustees continued. “First, all persons in our country are innocent until proven guilty. Second, the well-being of our students, staff and community are more important than anything else. Third, given the credibility of the accuser, these accusations cannot be ignored.”
“In our view, the failure to promptly schedule and hold a board of trustees meeting to discuss and address this matter can only mean that our high level of concern and sense of urgency is not universally shared among all seven trustees.”
Notably, the rest of the school board—recently dubbed the “Bad Faith Five” by some local parents—had already faced criticism earlier this summer for their recent hiring process of Azaiez. Community members said the board rushed their decision and did the “entire superintendent search in closed session,” without providing reasons for choosing Azaiez as the sole finalist in May.
Bone and Weston were the only trustees of the seven-member board to vote against hiring Azaiez, echoing parents’ concerns about the lack of both a public forum and consistent work achievement.
State Officials Step In
In early fall, the Texas Education Agency flagged Azaiez’ license.
“The State Board for Educator Certification has received information that could potentially impact your Texas educator certificate(s),” read a September TEA email to Azaiez, obtained by Texas Scorecard. “The Educator Investigations Division has opened a case file to review and investigate this information. The allegations are as follows: Assault.”
“Due to the allegations, an investigation notice has been placed on your certification record.”
Texas Scorecard also sent four open records requests to RRISD to further investigate these matters, but the district appealed three to the Texas attorney general to “withhold certain information.” The district requested clarification for the fourth open record request.
Parents Speak Out
At a September public board meeting, district parents attempted to testify to the board about the issue—but board president Amy Weir and Superintendent Azaiez directed district police to arrest two of the fathers and block citizens from coming into the meeting hall, an action that sparked national headlines and a citizen lawsuit.
At a late October board meeting, parents finally had the opportunity to testify directly across the room to the board and Superintendent Azaiez.
“As a mother and a parent, I’m shocked [by these allegations],” district citizen Shauna Kinningham said. “This man has a job that affects over 40,000 children in this district, and contact and power over female administrators and teachers. What possible excuse, can this board … have to ignore this?”
“I’m going to shine a light on communications that provide context for the [Temporary Restraining Order], one trustee’s disregard for a fellow professional, and a troubling sequence of events,” another woman testified, with several others standing beside her holding up poster board signs of screenshots.
A text sequence on June 28: The married superintendent demands that his girlfriend get an abortion. The superintendent threatens the girlfriend, “I’ll make you pay.” The superintendent shows his intent, “You will lose this baby.”
On July, 5, the girlfriend reaches out to [board trustee] Cory Vessa regarding the superintendent’s behavior. On July 6, Cory Vessa rejects the girlfriend’s outreach. On the evening of July 6, this pregnant woman would be physically assaulted. Hence, the temporary restraining order. Thank you.
“Sadly, you [the board] knew. People knew about this and hid it,” one citizen said.
“These are very serious allegations against the only employee that you oversee, and it has been four months that you’ve known about this,” another citizen testified. “For the safety of our children and the female staff, why haven’t you at least put him on administrative leave?”
This week, after nearly four months of turmoil, the board will meet on Wednesday evening “in consultation with legal counsel to discuss the employment and performance of the Superintendent,” according to their posted agenda.
Questions remain about what the board will do—if anything.
District parents have planned a press conference at Round Rock High School tomorrow evening before the meeting. Concerned citizens may contact the school board.