ROUND ROCK — A troubling and contentious scandal continues in a “safe and suburban” Central Texas school district.
On Tuesday night, after months of public outcry and delays, the Round Rock Independent School District board of trustees met behind closed doors to again 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, though they did propose and vote on a separation agreement and finalized the independent investigation report (making it potentially available to the public).
The story traces back to a pivotal event last summer, when the seven-member board, despite objections from the community, controversially hired Azaiez as the district’s new superintendent.
Less than two months later, Azaiez was subject to a temporary restraining order and began facing serious accusations of domestic violence against his pregnant mistress—and five of the board members began facing allegations of covering it up.
In late summer, as community members began asking questions, the dramatic saga caught fire and made national headlines. Texas Scorecard previously chronicled the months-long saga in a recent special report and exclusive podcast series, Exposed.
Only in January did RRISD’s school board finally place Azaiez on paid administrative leave, pending investigations.
After more than five hours behind closed doors Tuesday night, the school board reconvened in the public meeting room and ultimately voted to reject their proposed separation agreement with Azaiez (though they did not publicly discuss its details). They also voted to finalize the external investigation report, meaning the public can now request the document, though the district will likely appeal to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stop its release.
Trustees Danielle Weston and Mary Bone—the two who have questioned and challenged the other five members’ actions the last several months—again called out the board for the whole saga, and called the attempted settlement agreement “not transparent” and “hush money” used to hide some of the trustee’s actions.
“It’s obvious to me that for the last seven months, this board is only interested in themselves and covering up their own indiscretions,” said Bone, detailing how members of the board attempted to “poison the investigation” by spreading rumors, discrediting the investigator and those who asked questions, and even tracking down and photographing the alleged assault victim.
“This community should be demanding why some of this board are going to such extreme measures to hide the truth,” Bone continued. “What do some members of this board have to gain?”
“On January 6, 2022, this board placed the superintendent on paid administrative leave and hired an outside investigator at taxpayer expense. We received a draft report from the investigator on January 30. We’ve been sitting on it for 38 days,” trustee Weston said. “I don’t have any explanation for all of the delays. I kept asking to address this sooner. $25,000 spent on the investigation, and I have concerns about some of the trustees’ behavior during the investigation.”
Citizens also spoke to the board during the public comment time.
“The actions of the board have tainted our district. … And if we can’t trust you to be forthcoming, how can we trust you to make decisions on behalf of our children?” said district parent Denise Ray.
“You do not care that you’ve wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars protecting and defending a superintendent that you never should have hired in the first place,” said Jill Farris. “You have completely lost touch with what should be your primary focus—the students and staff of Round Rock ISD.”
On Wednesday, Texas Scorecard sent the district an open records request for the investigation report, and the board is now scheduled to again discuss the superintendent’s employment status on March 21.