A battle brewing for months within a North Texas school board between the education establishment and a conservative trustee came to a head in a special meeting held Tuesday morning.
McKinney Independent School District board members voted 6-1 to censure trustee Chad Green, citing what they said was “sufficient evidence to conclude” that certain actions by Green violated the board’s policies and operating protocols. Earlier this month, the board led by President Amy Dankel passed a resolution calling on Green to resign.
The censure resolution requires Green to obtain written approval and be accompanied by another board member when visiting any McKinney ISD campus or facility during the next year.
It also “publicly denounces” Green’s actions and directs him to “cease all actions that have negatively impacted McKinney ISD’s students, parents, staff, community, and the Board.”
Those actions include Green’s alleged misconduct at a campus event in March, as well as his attendance at a rally calling on the superintendent and board members to remove obscene books from McKinney school libraries, which Dankel characterized as “racist.”
“I can’t believe this witch hunt has gone this far,” said McKinney resident Mike Giles.
Giles, a longtime conservative activist, was among more than 20 citizens who spoke at the meeting in support of Green ahead of the board’s vote.
Several speakers said Green is the only board member listening to constituents’ complaints about sexually explicit books in students’ libraries, and they believe the conservative is being targeted for representing their concerns.
McKinney grandmother Jessica Hulcy called Green “kids’ only advocate” on the board.
“You have a lot of work to do, and this isn’t a good use of your resources,” Green supporter Jeff Hall told trustees.
A smaller number of citizens spoke against Green, and a few said he should resign.
Green was elected last year on a platform of transparency for taxpayers and giving parents a voice in the district. Since then, he’s butted heads with other trustees over the correct board response to the book issue.
He says the board should use its authority to immediately remove and review library books flagged as obscene; other board members point to a three-step process that parents complain is cumbersome and leaves inappropriate books available to school kids while they’re being reviewed.
The standoff has resulted in several contentious school board meetings that have featured heavy police presence.
Giles and others also said they were “stunned” by Dankel’s claim that a rally sign briefly held by Green was racist because it included the names of “the two members of the board who are not white” (Larry Jagours and Harvey Oaxaca)—especially when they learned the rally featured multiple signs naming other board members as well as the superintendent.
Dankel says trustees’ actions leading up to Tuesday’s censure were prompted by allegations that Green violated board policies while exhibiting at the Family Fun Day event at Ruben Johnson Elementary in mid-March. Trustee Stephanie O’Dell claimed the misconduct involved “a violation of a penal code.”
At their March meeting, the trustees voted to initiate an investigation.
During the April meeting, an outside attorney the board hired to conduct the investigation reported that, in his opinion, Green had violated board policies and operating protocols by:
- engaging in political advertising on campus—a reference to McKinney First PAC literature that Green noted was brought by others and did not promote Green or any other any candidates (and Green himself is not a candidate);
- taking photos of students participating in the event and posting them on Facebook—an alleged violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ education records; and
- violating campus safety and security policy by not signing the visitors sign-in sheet when he checked in at the front desk, though Green said he showed his badge and was cleared to enter by staff.
Based on that report, on Tuesday the board presented their censure resolution, saying there was “sufficient evidence” to conclude that Green was “fully complicit” in “political advertising” on campus in violation of Texas law and district policies, and that he failed to follow campus security protocols—a “dereliction of his duty” as an elected McKinney ISD board member.
Trustee Philip Hassler asked Green if, in hindsight, he would do anything differently at the campus event.
“I didn’t do anything illegal,” Green replied.
During public comments, McKinney ISD parent Paul Elliott presented trustees with a packet of information documenting instances of other board members committing the same violations Green was being censured for, including failing to sign in when visiting a campus and posting photos with students on Facebook.
Green told the board the evidence against him “doesn’t meet the minimum standard” and moved to have the allegations sent to a district attorney.
“Let’s see what an actual legal authority has to say,” Green said.
Green’s motion was not seconded.
Police presence was again heavy during Tuesday’s meeting, with at least seven McKinney Police Department cars parked outside the $70 million stadium and event center where McKinney school board meetings are held. Fifteen McKinney PD officers are assigned as student resource officers, whose cost is split between the city and district.
There was a noticeable difference inside, however. Unlike the past few meetings where members of the public were dragged out by police at Dankel’s direction for failing to observe her rules of decorum (including a ban on clapping), police officers stationed inside Tuesday’s meeting were reticent as citizens clapped to show approval of public comments.
Earlier this month, civil rights attorney Paul Davis served Dankel and several McKinney police officers with a federal lawsuit for squelching citizens’ free speech during board meetings.
The board drew jeers from the crowd when they adjourned into a closed session to consult with attorneys about the resolution and excluded Green, over his objection. While attorney consultations regarding litigation can be closed under Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code, Davis (who represents Green) argued that the consultation was regarding a personnel matter under Section 551.074, which entitled Green to request a public meeting.
Citizens can direct questions or comments to McKinney ISD school board members.