Court order temporarily blocks Round Rock ISD from censuring 2 board trustees at meeting

Education

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A new temporary restraining order issued by a Williamson County district court has blocked the Round Rock ISD school board from censuring two board trustees at a meeting Wednesday evening.

The board was set to discuss whether to censure Trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston, whose actions the district claims led to the disruption of the Sept. 14 board meeting. Bone and Weston filed for a temporary restraining order against the other board members, which was granted Wednesday evening before the meeting.

The temporary restraining order stops the other board members from publicly or privately censuring Bone and Weston at the Wednesday meeting. The order also says they must follow their own operating procedures before taking a vote on whether to censure the Bone and Weston.

Excerpt from temporary restraining order granted in favor of RRISD Board Trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston.
Excerpt from temporary restraining order granted in favor of RRISD Board Trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston.

The pair of trustees released a statement Wednesday night on the order, saying, “We are very thankful to the 425th District Court for granting a Temporary Restraining Order against the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees and the five individual trustees who were attempting to stifle discussion about important issues facing our community and prevent two strong voices on the board of trustees from fully advocating for the educational needs of 47,000 students.”

The TRO is in effect for 14 days and can be extended.

Other board members are seeking attorney input on the new TRO. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 6 at 9 a.m., where Bone and Weston say they will present more facts and information to the court. They hope the court proceedings will help resolve differences they have with other school board members.

Bone and Weston were in attendance at the Wednesday night meeting, and a round of applause could be heard from the community as they walked on stage.

The board still heard public comments related to the censures, even though no action would be taken.

“If you have censure-ship of certain members, that means I personally am not being represented,” said student Emma Ray. “What good does it do to shame people and show to the public that you cannot represent every student? Because that’s what it seems like to me.”

The board claims Bone and Weston “repeatedly insisted on calling for a vote on spacing rules for the September 14, 2021 Board Meeting even though this matter was not on the agenda.” The two ended up walking out of that meeting, which was ultimately cut short because of the repeated disruptions. Two men were arrested in the aftermath.

“I also ask the board to censure trustees Bone and Weston for continuing to violate their oath to protect our children,” said one parent.

Also at the meeting, the board voted 5-2 to extend its mask rules and use a “mask matrix” to dictate when they’ll require or recommend masks in the future. Weston and Bone cast the dissenting votes.

Proposed mask matrix from RRISD Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez (Round Rock ISD Board Documents)
Proposed mask matrix from RRISD Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez (Round Rock ISD Board Documents)

The RRISD agenda resolutions state “to censure” means to reprimand a trustee and make clear to the public the board doesn’t support their actions. If the censure is approved Wednesday night, the resolutions state the following actions will be enacted:

  • The pair will be referred to as “Censured Trustee Weston” and “Censured Trustee Bone” on all district communications and the district website.
  • They will be prohibited from holding a board officer position.
  • They will be prohibited from using district funds for their official duties without board approval.
  • They will be prohibited from visiting district properties as a trustee without board approval, with the exception of board meetings.

Disruptions at the Sept. 14 meeting were largely related to seating guidelines inside the meeting room. The district only let as many people into the room as social distancing measures would allow, it told KXAN. The rest were sent to an overflow room equipped with a live stream of the meeting.

Several community members were upset about the arrangement and found it to be an infringement on their rights.

The board will also attempt to discuss its mask mandate again at the Wednesday evening meeting, after the item was already rescheduled twice. Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez will suggest connecting the district’s mask rules to different COVID-19 risk stages set by Williamson and Travis County health authorities.

The Wednesday board meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Raymond E. Hartfield PAC off McNeil Drive in northwest Austin.

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