Even before the Keller Independent School District board meeting on May 24, tensions were high in the Fort Worth suburban district, and plenty of security and law enforcement officers were in attendance. 

As citizens gathered for the meeting, resident Doug Wade was removed for not wearing a mask by Keller police and KISD security personnel—including one Keller police officer not wearing a mask herself.

“The on-site law enforcement was not interested in the KISD protocols and rules allowing [an] exemption to mask mandates for those with a medical exemption like myself and others,” Wade told Texas Scorecard. “They ignored the board’s written guidance I presented and instead forcibly expelled me without any legal justification, which I repeatedly requested.” 

“I took the video to show the tyrannical insights to how Keller ISD operates inside the meetings as well as inside the schools,” said Trevor Burke. “They have shown that medical exemption doctors’ notes do not matter, and religious freedoms do not matter. Only they matter—as this video shows this.” 

During the meeting, district employees actively monitored mask-wearing, making citizens readjust their masks if they were not worn properly. 

Many citizens were concerned with several board policy changes, including one that would limit the amount of time that citizens may speak. Currently, citizens are allowed to speak for five minutes. The new policy would limit it to three minutes for 10 or fewer speakers and two minutes for more than 10. 

“They’re coming to the board to share their opinions on certain matters. Is that a sufficient time that is respectful to the public?” newly sworn-in board member Dr. Charles Randklev asked.

“Potentially, if we have 200 people coming to speak, if they each spoke for three minutes … you do the math,” Trustee Cindy Lotton explained to Randklev. 

“One misconception is that this board meeting is a meeting of this board in the public,” Lotton told Randklev. “It is not a public meeting. It’s for us to do our business. Do you see the difference?” 

Parent Christine Molloy was outraged by Lotton’s statement. 

“I think the KISD board has forgotten who put them in their positions,” Molloy said. “Any time a publicly elected official tries to eliminate the voice of the people, it’s time to replace those officials.”  

Along with the policy change about the time to speak, the board changed several grievance process policies for educators, parents, students, and the public. 

These changes will affect how a person can fight an injustice, handle a complaint, or protect their job. New policy changes also give power solely to the superintendent to determine if a grievance is meritless, eliminating a potential hearing. 

The board approved all policy changes by a vote of 6-1, with Randklev being the lone dissenting vote.  

“Board members are elected to govern the district. These policy changes relegate too much power to the superintendent,” said Keller resident Kris Kittle. “The board would not be governing; the superintendent would be.” 

“It seems the board has forgotten who they report to: the voters,” Kittle added. “They were voted in, but they can be voted out.” 

The next Keller ISD board of trustees election will be held on May 7, 2022.

 

 

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.

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