While parents are fighting school officials forcing masks on their children, many school district administrators and board members from across the state opted to not wear masks at a conference in Dallas last weekend. In fact, masks were not even required.

Since last year, citizens have been engaging at a level not often seen in their local school districts. The fight initially began over critical race theory. While that conflict is ongoing, Texans from Round Rock ISD to Dallas ISD and beyond are opposing school officials who are forcing face coverings on their children. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has published a list of school districts not complying with Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates, and he is suing a number of them.

Meanwhile, while a number of attendees at a convention last weekend for school board members and administrators were masked, many were seen unmasked, with no segregation of masked and unmasked (as has occurred in Dallas ISD).

The Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards held txEDCON21, their annual conference, in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Hotel. The conference ran from September 24-26. Masks were encouraged but not required, despite officers and boards of directors for both associations being made up of various school districts.

Texas Scorecard was present Saturday at the conference.

Not all school districts in Texas have mask mandates, so it should be expected that board members or administrators from such districts would be unmasked. For example, representatives of Boerne ISD—where mask wearing is optional—were photographed unmasked with Texas Education Association Commissioner Mike Morath.

Other school districts like Austin ISD mandate masks for everyone, including staff. Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde was seen unmasked at the conference.

Inquiries to the Austin ISD board of trustees weren’t replied to before publication.

Saturday’s portion of the conference also featured discussion panels. Pictured here are the panelists for one of the discussions. None of the panelists wore masks.

From left to right on stage: Janet Bubert of Underwood Law Firm; Joy Baskin, director of TASB Legal Services; and James Whitton of law firm Brackett & Ellis, P.C. Far left and off-stage is panelist Daniel Stockton, Frisco ISD’s executive director of Government and Legal Affairs. Frisco ISD does not mandate masks.

Smaller panels had a mix of masked and unmasked panelists.


Unmasked attendees were seen throughout the convention center hallways.

School officials’ attitudes that day conflict with many districts’ image of fighting to mandate masks. Texas Scorecard did not observe any remote participation option made available to those concerned about people not wearing masks, nor did the conference program mention such an option.

Citizens are opposing school district mask mandates, and vehemently so, as Dallas ISD parent Lauren Davis demonstrated during last Thursday’s board meeting. “Your lawless behavior [and] segregation practices are turning unmasked kids into the virus,” she said. “They are humans!” These parents are organizing together, speaking to their local school boards, and filing lawsuits.

To date, the Texas Legislature has not passed legislation banning these mandates, nor has Abbott put it on state senators’ and representatives’ to-do list in the current special session. Paxton has requested citizens report districts mandating masks by sending an email to maskmandate@oag.texas.gov.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.