UPDATED September 8 with additional information about a special board meeting on September 13.
A trustee in scandal-plagued Prosper Independent School District is speaking out about the school board’s response to shocking accusations the district covered up allegations of a bus driver sexually abusing two little girls for an entire school year in order to protect the district’s image.
Prosper ISD trustee Garrett Linker posted a statement Wednesday night on Facebook saying media reports published on August 25 about a lawsuit filed against the district were the first he heard about the scandal. He also confirmed parents’ suspicions that the board is not conducting an “independent investigation” as they claimed last week.
At the same time, the board scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to publicly discuss and vote on an independent investigation—something they hadn’t done before—and to publicly address who will conduct the investigation. Linker’s post verified that the same lawyers now defending the district against the sex abuse lawsuit were also tasked with investigating the district’s possible wrong-doing in the case—a clear conflict of interest.
“I understand that as your Board of Trustees, the only currency we have with the community is trust and once that is lost, it is very difficult to regain,” Linker said in the statement, which he made as a Prosper parent and individual trustee, not on behalf of the board or district. “I also feel that our role as trustees is to be the check and balance and oversight for the district: whether good or bad.”
Linker’s post received a huge outpouring of support from the community for his honesty and transparency, along with his criticism of the other six board members for staying silent about what parents see as a sham investigation.
Details of the sex abuse charges became public two weeks ago when the family of the girls, ages 5 and 7 at the time, filed a lawsuit against the district for failing to protect their children.
Parents in the district—including some whose children rode the same bus and attended the same school as the alleged victims—said the publicity about the lawsuit was also the first they’d heard about their children possibly being exposed to a molester who was identified and arrested in early May.
“I had seen vague comments on different forums online in the weeks preceding, hinting at something that had happened last school year, but I was not aware and was never briefed by the district,” Linker said. “I received my first briefing on Friday August 26th by members of central admin but due to the active litigation, there is nothing further that I can share regarding this meeting.”
Linker was first elected to the Prosper ISD board on May 7, 2022, and was sworn into office on May 16.
Linker also confirmed the community’s suspicions about the board’s “prepared statement,” read at the August 29 school board meeting by Board President Drew Wilborn, claiming to have already retained an “independent firm” (that they failed to name) to conduct an investigation.
Parents were also skeptical about the board’s claim that an independent investigation was “ongoing”—just four days after trustees supposedly learned about the scandal, even though they hadn’t held a meeting during which they could have approved such an action.
“As it stands, the independent investigation is currently assigned to the same firm handling the lawsuit for Prosper ISD,” Linker said. “As I stated last week, I have concerns about these types of investigations in general and I do not feel that the same firm handling the lawsuit can objectively handle an independent investigation for the Board of Trustees.”
Linker said making the post “is not something that I enjoy doing, but I feel that above all else, I must keep my promise to be truthful and honest with you.”
Above all, my highest concern is putting kids first and that you can trust with confidence that they are in good hands when you release them to our district’s care each day.
I am not yet making judgments about how this matter was handled because I have not yet been given all the facts. I believe it is important to let the investigation take place, to gather facts, and then communicate as much as possible to the community. I hope and pray that at the end of this, we can confidently move forward as a safer, wiser, and more trusting community.
For a week, Linker was the lone trustee to issue a public statement separate from the board’s. In an August 30 Facebook post, he called for “a thorough and independent investigation” as well as “transparency and accountability.”
A week later, on Tuesday, trustee Bill Beavers posted a statement on Facebook that drew harsh criticism from the community.
Unlike Linker, Beavers doubled down on the board’s open support for Superintendent Holly Ferguson. He reaffirmed his “complete confidence” in Ferguson, who is a target of the board’s purported “independent investigation,” and said the Prosper ISD administration “has my unequivocal support.”
“This is quite possibly the worst statement I have read to date on the matter,” Prosper parent Katie Yuen commented on Beavers’ post. “The board of trustee position is to ensure the best interest of the stakeholder. Your role could not be more clear. Your job is to ensure the best interest of our kids. Not Holly Ferguson.”
You cannot affirm your belief in the steadfast and ethical leadership of someone that should be, at the bare minimum, on administrative leave pending a third-party, INDEPENDENT investigation. You cannot be the judge on a matter while colluding with the defense.
Lanford Rodgers, who ran for the Prosper ISD school board in May, also criticized Beavers’ statement and shared a copy of the Board Members’ Pledge, which he said is “geared to serve and protect the Board and superintendent,” not students or parents.
“I now understand why they are not accountable to their constituents, or in board member Beavers’ case only to his base,” he said. “I guess he is like most politicians once they get elected, they are untouchable in their minds until his/her next election.”
The board as a whole has remained silent.
“It is never wrong to do the right thing,” Linker concluded Wednesday. “It might hurt, but it’s never wrong.”
“Our job as trustees is to find the truth, even if that truth inflicts a black eye. Black eyes will heal with proper care, time, and attention. But trust broken is seldom repaired,” he added. “I pledge to do my part to find the truth.”
In addition to taking public action as legally required to approve an independent investigation, the board will meet with their attorney in closed session to discuss the pending lawsuit as well as deliberate regarding a “public officer or employee.”
Some in the community believe the superintendent is the subject of the deliberations. Many have called for the board to suspend Ferguson from her lucrative position while an investigation is ongoing. In just her second year as the district’s top administrator, Ferguson earns a $310,000 salary and received a 2022 performance bonus of $60,000.
Others speculate that Linker is the target, and that other members of the board may seek to “censure” him for publicly revealing facts about the board’s misinformation that the meeting agenda itself confirms.
Concerned parents can contact their elected Prosper ISD school board members with any questions or to request they take further action.