ROUND ROCK — A troubling and contentious scandal continues in a “safe and suburban” Central Texas school district.
On Thursday, after months of public outcry and delays, the Round Rock Independent School District board of trustees met behind closed doors to discuss the status of the district’s investigation into recently hired Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez—who has been accused of domestic violence—and potentially decide on his employment.
They again declined to act.
Allegations against Azaiez first surfaced last summer and sparked months of incidents in the community that made national headlines—including the school board ignoring and allegedly covering up the accusations, blocking parents from public meetings, arresting concerned citizens, and trying to censure two dissenting trustees.
Meanwhile, a district judge issued a temporary restraining order against Azaiez, and the Texas Education Agency and Travis County Sheriff’s Office opened ongoing investigations into the superintendent and district.
Only in January, RRISD’s school board finally placed Azaiez on paid administrative leave, pending investigations.
The school board originally planned to produce a finalized report of the TEA investigation at last night’s meeting, but after discussing it behind closed doors for nearly three hours, the board decided to postpone the findings until a March meeting.
Two trustees—Danielle Weston and Mary Bone, who have opposed the board’s actions the last several months and repeatedly attempted to address the allegations—again dissented last night, bringing up motions to finalize the report now and make it available to the public. Weston and Bone also brought up a motion to include “possible termination of the superintendent” on their next meeting’s agenda.
The rest of the board denied the requests in a vote of 5-2.
Furthermore, Weston and Bone brought forth motions to investigate the district’s police department for any procedural violations and several of the board members—board president Amber Feller, Amy Weir, and Tiffanie Harrison—for abuse of power, but those efforts were also voted down.
“I’m here once again disturbed by all the national, state, and local media attention Round Rock has gotten not for academic excellence, but still for scandal and failure of this board,” one citizen testified to the board Thursday night.
“You led us to believe that the saga is close to an end, but now it seems uncertain,” another added. “The public deserves to know the truth so we can settle this once and for all.”
Other citizens, such as Jill Farris, noted that the school board has been preoccupied with scandal rather than actually addressing educational problems, such as the district’s “F” rating with the TEA, a multimillion-dollar deficit, declining enrollment, and teacher shortages.
“You’ve been focused on hiring and then covering for an unqualified superintendent and [a] superintendent with credible criminal complaints involving the assault of a fellow educator,” Farris said. “You’ve continued to waste time and money defending the superintendent, defending your censure resolutions, and fighting mask mandates in court. … It’s time for you five to stop running for cover and hiding from your misdeeds, and start fixing these giant messes you made.”
“But don’t worry,” Farris concluded, “if you don’t fix them—we will.”