AUSTIN (KXAN) — A group of Round Rock ISD parents and community members protested outside of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mansion Sunday, pushing for more local control for school districts throughout the state.
“We are tired of not being listened to,” Chuy Zaratae, a Round Rock ISD parent and protester, said.
Parents, teachers and others associated with the group “Access Education RRISD” are not happy.
The group feels the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has handled crises poorly — the latest being the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now all you have to do is fill out a form, and you don’t have to wear a mask,” Zarate said.
Round Rock ISD teacher Tammy Conrad said their concerns have been voiced repeatedly.
“The school districts are telling the state what’s going on, parents are telling the state, teaching organizations are telling the state, but I feel the governor has not responded appropriately during the pandemic,” Conrad said.
As of Sunday, Round Rock ISD currently has 342 new positive COVID-19 cases. The district has struggled to find subs with teachers out sick — like many other districts in Central Texas.
There’s a student petition alleging a lack of contact tracing, the district’s mask mandate not being enforced, and no access to testing. But not everyone agrees there should be more local control.
“Those laws are in place for a reason,” Round Rock ISD parent Leslie Winters said. “We have the TEA for a reason. And while I too don’t agree with everything that they do, or decisions that are made, that is the law that’s in place.”
Winters feels kids should still be in the classroom, rather than in virtual school. She said it’s just better for students.
“I am grateful that Round Rock ISD is allowing parents to apply to help and substitute in classrooms. I think that’s great,” Winters said.
School district’s do have a say locally on whether they have to temporarily shut down a classroom because of COVID outbreaks. However, protesters feel that’s not enough.
“Every day somebody is not in my classroom because they’re at home sick or one of their family members is sick,” Conrad said.