The contentious saga in Round Rock ISD continues after two parents filed a federal lawsuit last week against five school board trustees, the district superintendent, and several district police officers.
Last year, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jeremy Story and Dustin Clark on charges of “hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct” following a September school board meeting. Both men were released the next day.
The lawsuit claims the defendants violated Story’s and Clark’s rights under the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment. Additionally, the suit accuses the defendants of violating 42 U.S. Code 1983, or misusing their power to deny their constitutional rights.
The two men attended last September’s school board meeting to protest Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez’s continued employment and a proposed tax increase.
Texas Scorecard chronicled multiple scandals involving Round Rock ISD in a special report and a podcast series, Exposed, which included investigations into the school district and Azaiez. Five of the district’s seven trustees, dubbed the “Bad Faith Five,” were also brought under scrutiny for allegedly covering up domestic violence allegations against Azaiez.
At the August 16 board meeting, Round Rock ISD officers removed Story after he referenced the investigation into Azaiez. Amy Weir, president of the school board, instructed district officers to escort Story from the building, claiming his concerns about Azaiez did not follow the meeting’s agenda.
At the same meeting, trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston walked out after accusing the district of intentionally limiting seating under the guise of following COVID-19 safety guidelines. Clark then demanded the board let more citizens in to witness the meeting, and Weir subsequently instructed district officers to escort him out.
Three days later, Williamson County officers arrested Story and Clark. Although Story’s charges pertained to the August 16 meeting, Clark’s charges dated back to a September meeting of the school board. Their lawsuit, filed May 11, accuses all defendants of suppressing Story’s and Clark’s constitutional rights and claims they were arrested illegally.
If successful, the lawsuit would void Azaiez’s contract and prevent Round Rock ISD from restricting attendance at school board meetings due to COVID-19.
This January, the district placed Azaiez on paid administrative leave pending multiple investigations into his conduct. However, the school board reinstated Azaiez with a 5-2 vote in March, even though the Travis County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the allegations.
In a statement to Texas Scorecard, Story condemned the five trustees for suppressing citizens’ rights.
“This case involves and affects both Dustin and I but, it isn’t just about us,” said Story. “We hope to stop the chilling of freedom of speech and the right to petition your government caused by several members of the RRISD school board’s rogue actions. We also hope to expose the corruption that has been so rampant with the superintendent and several board members.”
Story also condemned Round Rock ISD for prioritizing personal politics over students’ education and expressed hope that the lawsuit will encourage parents across the nation to stand up to their school boards.
“It will set a precedent that will also stop similar actions occurring across Texas and America,” said Story. “This ultimately will help parents and community members hold school boards accountable to focusing on core academics rather than pushing their own extraneous political agendas on children.”
This article has been updated to correct dates referenced.