ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Two men who were arrested last year for disrupting a Round Rock Independent School District board meeting are now suing the district and the members of the school board, according to court documents.
Jeremy Story and Dustin Clark say the school district “conspired to violate plaintiffs’ constitutional rights when they tried to reveal the illegal hiring of Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez, expose Azaiez’s alleged assault of his pregnant extra-marital girlfriend, and object to a tax rate increase during an effectively closed meeting.”
They’re talking about a school board meeting that was cut short after it got out of hand last year. Some people in attendance believed the school district did not allow enough people in the board chamber for a contentious meeting. The district said seating was limited because of COVID-19 and that an overflow space was set up in compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act.
At that meeting, masks and the tax rate were on the agenda. It also happened parallel to an investigation into the superintendent, who has since been reinstated after the board says an outside investigator looked into Azaiez’s conduct and closed the case. No criminal charges have been brought against Azaiez.
RRISD spokesperson Jenny Caputo said the district has not been served with the civil lawsuit from Story and Clark and has not had a chance to review it. Therefore, they did not have a comment as of Thursday.
Caputo did send KXAN a statement in September of last year, after we reached out about the school board meeting at the center of this lawsuit. Caputo said the following, in-part:
“Round Rock ISD abides by the Open Meetings Act and did not violate the law in any way Tuesday evening. The law allows local governments to set reasonable capacity standards in meeting rooms. Current capacity is limited, with seats spaced six feet apart, due to the fact that we are currently in the highest COVID-19 risk phases (Red Phase and Stage 5) in both Williamson and Travis Counties. The public had access to the meeting room until capacity limits were met and also to an overflow area where video and audio of the meeting were live-streamed.“
Caputo also said there was an overflow room set up for people who did not fit in the main chamber area. She said the virtual set up streams the meeting exactly as it’s streamed on the website and that speakers were able to enter the chamber to make public comments.
Clark and Story are also taking issue in Wednesday’s lawsuit with the fact that they were ejected from that September board meeting and later arrested and jailed overnight. KXAN interviewed both Story and Clark after they were released from the Williamson County Jail.
“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 then.
Last year Caputo also addressed the arrests of these two men:
“There were concerns over disruptive behavior that created a potentially threatening environment for students, staff and community members present and hindered official proceedings,” her statement read. “Round Rock ISD coordinated with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, which was the arresting agency in this case.”