ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Two men are facing charges after a Round Rock Independent School District board meeting was cut short earlier this week when tensions between some board members and attendees escalated.
Dustin Clark and Jeremy Story have both been charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct, according to court records.
The two men say they were arrested in the late evening Friday, held in the Williamson County Jail overnight and released around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
KXAN has asked both Round Rock ISD and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office why a warrant was issued for the two men instead of a citation. The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office referred us to the RRISD Police Department even though court documents show the sheriff’s office was the arresting agency. A spokesperson for Round Rock ISD did not answer that question but did confirm the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office was the arresting agency.
The arrests come after a Round Rock ISD board meeting about whether the district will extend their mask mandate, regardless of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order, was cut short and pushed to Wednesday of next week.
People in attendance of the meeting, like Story and Clark, say the district did not allow a reasonable number of people into the main chambers to participate in the meeting. The spokesperson for the district disagrees, saying they limited space in that room was because both Williamson and Travis Counties are within the strictest tiers of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.
“There was no reason to not have more chairs,” Clark said.
Story and Clark also said they didn’t feel the overflow room set up by RRISD provided attendees with equal access to the meeting. A spokesperson for RRISD said the virtual stream is the exact stream you would see online, which includes various angles of the board members and speakers.
From the very beginning of the board meeting, there was already tension over who is being allowed into the main room and why.
RRISD staff and board members started the meeting by arguing about whether people who brought collapsible chairs into the room could stay. Clark told KXAN he was one of the people who brought his own chair.
Meanwhile, there are people outside the main room trying to get in. Story is one of them.
Less than 30 minutes in, people can be heard voicing their concerns over board members, who were not at that point discussing the mask mandate extension. The president of the board specifically refers to Clark, who can be heard demanding that people outside the room be allowed in.
“We cannot continue our meeting with him speaking,” President Amy Weir said. She directs police in the room to remove Clark, which they did.
As Clark is being escorted out by police he yelled: “It’s an open meeting! Shame on you. Communist! Communist! Let the public in!” he said.
The full video of the meeting can be viewed here:
Meanwhile, Story says he was outside the entrance to the main room trying to gain access when he was pinned against a pole by police. Story says he’s had disagreements with the Round Rock ISD school board prior to this week.
A spokesperson for Round Rock ISD says the two men were charged for their actions this week “as well as previous meetings.” She noted there is still an active investigation into the incidents.
“There were concerns over disruptive behavior that created a potentially threatening environment for students, staff and community members present and hindered official proceedings,” said RRISD spokesperson Jenny LaCoste-Caputo in an email to KXAN.
When KXAN interviewed both Story and Clark Saturday morning after they were released from the Williamson County Jail they said they disagreed with that statement. They instead feel as though the board were the ones creating a threatening environment and that they were being targeted for reacting.
They have hired a lawyer but say they’re really just asking that the school board allows more access during meetings.
“I know that educators work hard, and they’re so sacrificial, and there’s so much that they do and so we’re not angry, we just feel our civil rights have been violated,” Story said.