ROUND ROCK — The troubling months-long saga continues in the “safe and suburban” Central Texas school district.
On Monday, the Round Rock Independent School District board of trustees met behind closed doors to discuss the state government investigation into recently hired superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez, who has been accused of domestic violence.
According to the claims, Azaiez allegedly demanded his pregnant mistress get an abortion and threatened her with violence when she refused. After she approached RRISD trustees in July, Azaiez allegedly assaulted her.
Once the allegations publicly surfaced in the summer, school board trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston called for an immediate special meeting to discuss the matter, but they were denied by the other five members.
“Criminal accusations against the superintendent that came to the entire board in a 7/23/2021 e-mail are worrisome,” the trustees wrote. “First, all persons in our country are innocent until proven guilty. Second, the well-being of our students, staff and community are more important than anything else. Third, given the credibility of the accuser, these accusations cannot be ignored.”
They added, “In our view, the failure to promptly schedule and hold a board of trustees meeting to discuss and address this matter can only mean that our high level of concern and sense of urgency is not universally shared among all seven trustees.”
The allegations then sparked months of public outcry and incidents that made national headlines, which are chronicled in a recent Texas Scorecard special report and exclusive podcast series. The saga included a temporary restraining order against Azaiez, ongoing investigations by the Texas Education Agency and Travis County Sheriff’s Office, and the board blocking parents from public meetings and arresting concerned citizens.
Finally, after more than five tumultuous months, the board met on Monday to “review the TEA monitor’s letter” on the situation.
“As appointed monitor, I recommend the governing board to place Round Rock Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation regarding the underlying conduct found in a protective order issued by a Travis County District Court,” read the letter, obtained by Fox News, “[and] contract the services of an external investigator to conduct an investigation regarding the underlying conduct described above.”
At Monday’s meeting, before the school board went into its closed session discussion, district parents packed the lecture hall for the public comment time to testify again to the trustees—and Azaiez—on the troubling saga.
“The meeting today is six months late,” said citizen Renate Sims. “The fact that it took the TEA letter to do what concerned parents and trustees Weston and Bone have urged the [five] of you [board members to do] since July makes me feel disregarded as a parent and constituent.”
“If your daughter came to you alleging that she was the victim of domestic assault, what would you do? Look the other way, call her a liar, or launch an investigation and seek justice?” district parent Denise Ray asked the board.
“This should be the obvious immediate response to an allegation as serious as assault and battery,” another parent said. “These very same facts have been brought to this board by members of the community six months ago, [but] this board’s response was to shut down the community members, use police to drag them from the meetings, and hope that the problem would go away.”
“Why did you hire [Azaiez]? Why are you protecting him? Why do you insist on keeping him around?” asked Jill Farris.
“Putting this man on paid leave to do an investigation is a waste of time and money. Keeping him employed doesn’t validate your poor decision to hire him in the first place,” Farris added, referencing last summer, when five of the board members selected Azaiez despite objections from the community. Trustees Bone and Weston were the only two to vote against the decision.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, the board decided to postpone any action relating to the superintendent until Thursday. The board’s upcoming agenda states it will “consider” the TEA’s recommendations and “discuss and consider the appointment of a temporary Acting Superintendent pending a search for an Interim Superintendent.”