Two Texas fathers who were arrested for disorderly conduct at a school board meeting are requesting that the charges against them be dropped following the suspension of the district superintendent who allegedly sought their arrest.
Dustin Clark and Jeremy Story are calling on the Williamson County, Texas, attorney to drop assault charges against them following the suspension of Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez.
The two have been prominent critics of the school district since the summer of 2021, when RRISD first discussed appointing Azaiez, who the fathers allege has a history of using the police to silence people speaking out against him.
“The county attorney should drop the charges and dismiss the case immediately,” Story told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “There is no need for the county to get involved in certain members of the school board’s unlawful actions.”
In December, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) sent a memorandum to board president Amy Weir and the RRISD Board of Trustees, recommending Azaiez’s suspension and an external investigation into allegations of assault by him and his alleged use of school police to silence critics at both RRISD and his former district, Donna ISD, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. RRISD approved the memorandum in a vote at Thursday’s board meeting.
One claim against Azaiez alleges that he “assaulted a mistress that he had gotten pregnant” in July 2021 after she refused to seek out an abortion, Clark told the DCNF. The alleged victim emailed the RRISD Board of Trustees requesting to speak to them about “a series of serious events” that reportedly transpired between her and Azaiez, according to an email obtained by the DCNF.
There is also “video of him [Azaiez] actually sending district police with an order to a 68-year-old hispanic grandmother’s house to prevent her from coming onto campus for two years,” at Donna ISD, Story previously told the DCNF. “The whole backdrop to this is that this guy had a prior history of being heavy handed and abusing the power given to him.”
Later in September, Clark and Story were arrested by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office after the school district police issued an affidavit to get the county sheriff to show up at their homes “on the same day, at the same time,” for a disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge, Story said.
Story believes an exception was made “by someone at a high level in the sheriff’s office … because you’re not supposed to be jailed for the level of misdemeanor we had in our county,” but police told him that they were just doing their job, as directed by the school board.
At an August school board meeting, Story had his microphone cut and was dragged out by police officers during the public comment portion of the meeting for mentioning the allegations against Azaiez and criticizing the board for its inaction. He alleged that Azaiez and the school board had a premeditated plan for this to happen.
In August, RRISD started restricting seats for school board meetings and by mid September, there were only 18 seats available at a meeting for a district of over 50,000 students. If a school district has a police force, they report to the superintendent, according to Texas law, so to enforce new seating limits, the school board deployed police to keep members of the community out of the meeting.
Story said the same two police officers who dragged him out of the August meeting were the ones barricading the door to prevent him from coming into a September meeting.
“One of them eventually grabbed me and wrapped me around the pole and put a cut in my back,” he said. “The other one pushed me down to the floor.”
Clark was escorted out of the same meeting by RRISD police after he questioned board members over why they were restricting public access and requested that they refill empty seats as they became available.
“Before the meeting even started, one of the trustees asked where this new restricted seating capacity policy was documented, and no one from the district could produce the policy, and the Superintendent admitted he had just made it up,” Clark told the DCNF. “This policy was not being applied or enforced anywhere else in the school district, and during that meeting, right across the hall, were 100+ maskless band students standing shoulder to shoulder blowing their instruments while rehearsing.”
During a Jan. 6, 2022 meeting, which was called by the board of trustees to consider the TEA’s recommendation to suspend Azaiez and conduct an investigation, RRISD Board President Amber Feller said she and other board members were “made aware” of the allegations against Azaiez on July 14, 2021.
She allowed “non-germane comments … as long as people came back around to an item on the agenda,” Story said. At the same meeting in August where he was dragged out, other community members were allowed to make “non-germane comments and were not similarly unlawfully restrained,” Story added.
“This is the exact opposite of what happened the day had the police drag me out of the room while making a lawful and calm speech during the public comments period,” he said. “It is this very incident for which 30 days later I was arrested at my home. Their whole reason for dragging me off the stand was that I had uttered one word the Board President deemed non-germane. This is a basic equal protection of the law violation.”
The students and community of RRISD have suffered as a result of the “failed leaders” of the school board, board member Danielle Weston told the DCNF, speaking in an individual capacity, not for the board. She also echoed Story’s stance that community members have commented on “non-germane” issues in the past.
“I was shocked and horrified when I witnessed the board president order a school police officer to remove Mr Story from our 16 Aug 2021 board meeting,” Weston said. “I did not witness Mr Story violate the law and in fact in RRISD board meetings prior to and since 16 Aug 2021, public speakers have come to the mic during public comments in special and called board meetings and have spoken on items not on the agenda. None have been removed by the police or arrested.”
RRISD and the TEA did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.