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Round Rock ISD superintendent addresses 'increasingly raucous' board meetings in letter to staff

In a letter to staff, Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said the district has not violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by limiting available seating in a meeting room.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Round Rock ISD's superintendent is addressing a series of chaotic school board meetings in recent months.

Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez shared a letter with district faculty and staff, which was later posted on social media on Dec. 3 by Place 4 Trustee Cory Vessa. In the letter, Azaiez said that as "passions have run high and frustrations have mounted" over the past year, the Board of Trustees meetings have become "increasingly raucous." 

"Unfortunately, to maintain order and security and conduct the business of the District, three people have had to be removed from Board meetings in the past few months," Azaiez said in the letter. "Information provided to the Williamson County Attorney's Office resulted in the arrest of two of those individuals. The arrests, misdemeanor charges for violating the Texas Penal Code, were carried out by the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, not the Round Rock ISD Police." 

Dustin Clark and Jeremy Story were arrested on Sept. 17, in connection with disruptions at a board meeting on Sept.14. According to Williamson County Jail records, both men faced misdemeanor charges of "hindering proceedings with disorderly conduct."

In the letter to faculty and staff, Azaiez also stated that the board has not violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by limiting seating in a meeting room and "in fact, our Board goes above and beyond what is required by the Open Meetings Act to ensure opportunity for public engagement."

Azaiez said the board allows public comment both in-person and virtually and also allows the public to comment on any topic during regular monthly meetings, "even though by law, the Board could restrict comments to agenda items only." Azaiez said that when the seating at meetings was limited due to COVID-19 concerns, the board set up a large overflow area where visitors could watch a livestream that is also broadcast, recorded and archived on RRISD's website.

"No one who signed up to speak at a meeting has ever been denied their opportunity to speak," Azaiez said in the letter.

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