AUSTIN, TX — Around 30 parents, grandparents, and community taxpayers gathered this morning outside the Texas Education Agency (TEA) building to petition the TEA to remove Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez and enact penalties on the Round Rock ISD board of trustees.
“We have been in a battle with our school district for the past year,” said Round Rock ISD mother Christie Slape.
The “safe and suburban” school district, located just outside of Austin, has been racked with scandal ever since Azaiez’s appointment to the position of superintendent last June.
Today, as concerned citizens gathered outside under the heat of the Texas sun, they called for the TEA to take “effective action” against Azaiez and the Round Rock ISD board of trustees for their allegedly illegal actions.
The list of grievances against Round Rock ISD includes an “illegal $10 million tax hike, arrests of concerned parents and taxpayers, and the reinstatement of a superintendent accused of sexual impropriety and oppression of board trustees who oppose him.”
Azaiez was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year due to public pressure amid ongoing investigations into his behavior, but he was reinstated about two months later by five school board trustees whom parents nicknamed the “Bad Faith Five.”
Despite claims by the Bad Faith Five that the investigations into Azaiez are complete, Texas Scorecard discovered contradictory news last month when an open records request revealed that the investigations into Azaiez remain ongoing.
Now, parents and taxpayers are rallying for the TEA to act in this scandal-ridden district.
Eric Norred with Focus on Education Round Rock said their focus is to improve education in Round Rock ISD and “get back to basics, which is reading, writing, math, science, and history.”
“This past school year alone, we’ve lost over 5,000 students that have left the district,” said Norred. “This needs to change, and our students are suffering.”
“We want the superintendent properly investigated,” said Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Travis County Taxpayers Union.
“It doesn’t just stop with the superintendent,” said Zimmerman. “The board members have tried to unlawfully censor two of our board members, Captain Danielle Weston and Dr. Mary Bone. These are two excellent board members who have been unlawfully censored by the board.”
“The superintendent now is just a puppet of the government bureaucrats who control our district,” added Zimmerman, calling for the TEA to investigate illegal activities in the district.
With the board of trustees fighting amongst themselves, the Bad Faith Five protecting a superintendent under investigation, and the district making suspect tax hikes, parents are frustrated.
“I’ve been attending school board meetings for the past school year,” said Slape. “And I have seen just unruly behavior from our school board members. I have filed a level-three grievance against one of the trustees. The trustees are not … communicating, and they are not working together.”
“They have ignored the formal complaints and grievances of many of these parents that are standing here today,” said Slape.
“We have filed a complaint against things like allowing males, biological males, in the restrooms and changing rooms of the females. This is not okay. Parents are frustrated. We’re not getting heard by our school board. So, we’re appealing to the Texas Education Agency to help us. We need their help as they supervise all of the school districts in the state.”
According to Slape, they have not seen any TEA employees as they rally in front of the building, and they suspect that TEA employees were tipped off on the rally and are working from home today.
Jeremy Story, one of the two fathers arrested last fall for “disorderly conduct” in the September school board meeting, says, “We believe that it’s time now for them [TEA] to do something visually, for our district and for the state.”
“Because they are choosing to allow wanton malfeasance in a district that is an absolute free-fall, a district that now has an F rating financially with the state, a district that now has 5,500 students who have withdrawn from the district (at least that we know of), [and] teachers that are resigning en masse.”
Story reminded listeners of McKinney ISD, where parents were threatened with arrest; Eanes ISD, where a parent was arrested and jailed; and Uvalde’s “horrible, horrible situation that was precipitated by a police force run by a superintendent [and] school district that was [so] inadequately prepared that then the local police had to step in and help.”
“If we didn’t have independent little school district police agencies that are inadequately prepared and instead allowed our local officers, our sheriffs, and others to be in our schools, then we would not have this freedom of speech silencing and we would have better-protected schools,” said Story.
“All of these things are very important to everyone across the state. So, it isn’t just Round Rock. Wherever you are in the state. We encourage you to press forward with us.”