Last week, Texas Scorecard reported on Round Rock ISD’s refusal to allow citizens to enter a board of trustees meeting where the district was considering its tax rate for the 2022 fiscal year. It is alleged that this was a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The story became more disturbing last Friday night when the school had two citizen activists arrested.
Now, the saga continues.
The Round Rock ISD board will hold a special called meeting on Wednesday, September 22, to consider resolutions of censure against board members Mary Bone and Danielle Weston.
Blaming the Chinese coronavirus, the Round Rock ISD school board last week limited the number of citizens who could attend a meeting where extending the district mask mandate and raising taxes were on the agenda. School police were deployed to block more citizens from entering.
“This rule was implemented to silence community members,” citizen Jeremy Story told Texas Scorecard. He was among the citizens blocked by RRISD police from entering the board meeting last Tuesday. Dustin Clark, who had made it inside, was forced out by school police after he rebuked the board members for discussing raising taxes while blocking citizens from entering.
Both men were arrested by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office on Friday evening and charged with “hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct,” according to Connie Odum, public affairs manager for Williamson County.
RRISD spokesperson Jenny Lacoste–Caputo said the school district “coordinated” with the sheriff. “The arrests are the result of an ongoing investigation over disruptive behavior at Tuesday’s board meeting as well as past board meetings that created a potentially threatening environment for students, staff and community members and hindered official proceedings,” she said.
Clark and Story were released on Saturday.
Bone and Weston disagreed with the board’s decision to restrict citizen access, and they left the meeting in protest. Weston believes the board violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, saying suspensions of TOMA out of concern for the virus expired on September 1. Lacoste–Caputo denies the board violated the law.
In the proposed censure, the district charges both with violating portions of the Texas Penal and Education Codes, not agreeing with the capacity limits in the meeting, and trying to put those limitations to a vote.
In an exclusive interview, Story denied being disruptive. He also said his arrest wasn’t because of masks or taxes, but what he believes is a cover-up. “My purpose was to share information regarding the alleged illegal activities and allegations that the superintendent had been doing,” he told Texas Scorecard.
Story alleges RRISD Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez demanded his mistress get an abortion, and when she refused, he threatened her both with violence and having her discredited by the RRISD board. After she went to the RRISD trustees, Story further alleges Dr. Azaiez assaulted her.
Story would not reveal the identity of the mistress. “She is a very credible high-level educator and is not at Round Rock ISD.” He said he made repeated attempts to privately bring these allegations to the board’s attention, but only Bone and Weston tried to look into it.
After multiple attempts, the other five eventually replied, but with a different tone. “They all said some variation of ‘this really isn’t our job.’” He said repeated offers to show them evidence were ignored.
Bone and Weston published a press release last month addressing the allegations against Dr. Azaiez. The release states Bone was contacted by a woman in July who claimed “Dr. Azaiez assaulted her and that she feared for her safety and that of her unborn child.” The woman asked to be able to speak with Board President Amy Weir. Bone told Weir, and Weir refused. When the alleged victim emailed the board July 14, a board meeting was scheduled for July 23 to discuss the superintendent’s contract, but was cancelled, and “repeated requests” for a meeting by Bone and Weston were denied until finally scheduling one for August 23.
“Two trustees did not even bother to show up. The meeting was held in close session. Two other trustees said they had to leave early,” Weston told Texas Scorecard. “They basically gave us 2 1/2 hours and mostly just scolded us. Nothing came as a result.”
Weir and Trustees Fellers and Harrison have previously called the allegations “unsubstantiated rumors,” saying that Bone and Weston’s press release “included inaccurate information” and the board hadn’t “received any claims of alleged assault or domestic violence from any alleged victim.”
In mid-August, Story went public by attempting to speak at a board meeting about the allegations. He was cut off and school police dragged him out. Days later, on August 19, he was finally able to make the allegations publicly to the board.
According to Board President Amy Weir, “Several Board members have requested that the censure of Trustees Bone and Weston be added to a Board agenda.”
Wednesday night’s meeting will be held at the McNeil High School Performing Arts Center (5720 McNeil Boulevard). At 5 p.m., citizens may sign up to speak at the meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.