In a brief but heated meeting Thursday night, families in Plainview Independent School District demanded accountability for a disturbing incident involving young students that they say the superintendent and trustees tried to sweep under the rug.

It was the first school board meeting since the community, located north of Lubbock in the Texas Panhandle, learned about a sexual assault involving two 6-year-old students. The incident occurred inside a classroom, with a teacher present, and was recorded on a password-protected electronic device belonging to the school.

Prior to the meeting, community members gathered outside to protest. Citizen journalist Clinton Rarey reported a heavy armed police presence, including two officers on the rooftop overlooking the parents.

Inside the meeting, several people gave public comments, which were limited to one minute. Multiple speakers were reportedly escorted out by police at the end of their comments.

A family member of the female victim was furious that a statement from the district characterized the incident as “mutual inappropriate sexual contact.”

Another speaker questioned how such an incident could happen under a teacher’s nose.

“Are there too many kids in class? Are there not enough aides?” she asked.

The district has about 4,700 students and a ratio of one teacher per 14 students, according to data published by the Texas Education Agency. Only 39 percent of students perform at or above grade level.

Some community members are calling for Superintendent H.T. Sanchez to be fired over the scandal.

Sanchez, who joined the district in 2018, was named Texas Superintendent of the Year in 2021 by taxpayer-funded lobbying groups.

But his goodwill in the community has been eroded.

“The trust with our superintendent has been lost with many, and now we’re curious if our current board members will show action to make changes,” another mom told the board.

“I’m disappointed in how the administration continues to show a lack of communication,” she said. “This board is supposed to represent the people of our community, but why did so many continue to feel misrepresented and unheard?”

“I can provide criticism while still supporting our schools and staff and students,” she added.

On Wednesday, Sanchez released a statement proposing policy changes for the next school year and said the district has put together a “committee” to work on improving communications with the community.

The female victim’s cousin called for more.

“The board should all be ashamed. It’s time we make a change today,” she said. “No accountability has been taken. It is far past the time that we let weak men like you be the protector of our children.”

“Action is well overdue,” added another mom. “It’s time to protect all these children.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.