UPDATE: Back and Forth

Since this story was published Friday morning, an RRISD district official has sent Texas Scorecard a statement from Board President Amy Weir, Vice President Amber Feller, and Secretary Tiffanie Harrison (though, notably, nothing yet from the superintendent himself). Additionally, trustee Weston, who put out the initial press release, also responded to the other board members’ statement.

The board officers’ statement:

It is incredibly disappointing that two fellow Trustees have broken with Board policy and are participating in the dissemination of rumors, which, despite being circulated among certain community members, have not resulted in any reports to or charges from law enforcement. The letter provided by Trustees Bone and Weston included inaccurate information — the full Board has not received any claims of assault or domestic violence from any alleged victim. This Board has also received no reports from any law enforcement entity indicating charges have been filed. What has been shared are unsubstantiated rumors from community members. We are monitoring the situation for changes, if any. If a meeting is needed, it will be scheduled when all Trustees are available.

Trustee Weston’s response:

The statement from the board officers is abundant in denying things our press release does not assert. It is bereft of any explanation as to why our simple request for a special meeting has been denied. That is the only violation of board policy that has happened thus far.  In addition, though one trustee was excluded from an email sent to the board on 14 July, all trustees received the email from 23 July which included serious allegations, including criminal allegations. Lastly, the reason one trustee was excluded from the 14 July email sent by the accuser is rooted in concerns the accuser has for her own safety. This is a serious matter that warrants the immediate attention of the RRISD Board of Trustees.

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Two school board members in an Austin suburb have gone public with their search for the truth amid serious allegations against their district’s head official.

This week, Round Rock Independent School District trustees Danielle Weston and Mary Bone sent out a press release describing the situation surrounding recently hired Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez.

The school board had already faced criticism earlier this summer for their hiring process of Azaiez, with community members testifying throughout the past two months that the board rushed their decision and did the “entire superintendent search in closed session,” not providing reasons why they chose 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 concerns of the lack of both a public forum and consistent work achievement.

Now, according to Bone and Weston, the entire board has received notice of assault allegations against Azaiez.

“Since the RRISD Board of Trustees was first notified of deeply troubling accusations (including criminal accusations) against RRISD Superintendent, Hafedh Azaiez, in mid-July, we (Bone and Weston) have actively sought to protect RRISD students, staff and the community at large,” they began.

“On [July 13], Trustee Bone was contacted by a woman who briefed Bone that Dr. Azaiez assaulted her and that she feared for her safety and that of her unborn child,” read the release. “The victim shared that once protective measures (including but not limited to a restraining order) were put in place, and when she felt safe to do so, she would pursue criminal charges. She also requested to be able to share her story with the board president.”

According to the release, Trustee Bone then fully briefed Board President Amy Weir on the allegations and the victim’s request to tell her story, but Weir declined the request.

The trustees then wrote that a board meeting was scheduled for the following week, but not specifically about the allegations—only to discuss the superintendent’s contract. However, that meeting was cancelled.

“Our desire to hold a proper and special meeting on this topic has not changed. And yet despite repeated requests, we have been denied. Even now, no meeting has been scheduled,” the press release read. “We know of no other course of action than to pursue board policies to exercise proper oversight of the RRISD.”

District policy states, “[T]he Board President shall call a special meeting at the request of two members of the Board.”

“Criminal accusations against the superintendent that came to the entire board in a 7/23/2021 e-mail are worrisome,” the trustees continued. “Victims of domestic violence are often dismissed, marginalized and they commonly live in fear. Most victims of domestic violence never come forward because it is too dangerous to do so.”

“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.”

Texas Scorecard sent a request to Superintendent Azaiez for response to the allegations and press release, but as of publication time, his office has not responded.

“It is difficult to navigate domestic violence accusations but we are guided by meaningful principles,” the trustees added. “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.”

Trustees Bone and Weston concluded by reiterating the board’s leadership role in protecting RRISD staff, students, and families.

“As individual trustees, we have no power. Only as a body corporate are we able to discuss and take action on matters. It’s imperative a special meeting be held immediately.”

Concerned citizens may contact the school board.