Last summer, several school board members engaged in a series of text messages regarding the district’s Cultural Competence Action Plan (CCAP) that raised concerns about an Open Meetings Act violation, as originally reported by The Texan.
The Texas Government Code prohibits the so-called “walking quorum,” when members engage in communications separately that, when taken together, would constitute a quorum.
The Texas Attorney General’s Open Meetings Act Handbook says, “Amended section 551.143 now prohibits discussion about an item of public business among a quorum of a governmental body through a series of communications.” The new amendments were adopted in 2019.
A quorum for the CISD school board is four members.
A violation is considered a misdemeanor offense and can carry a fine of between $100 and $500 and/or confinement in jail between one and six months.
“I am blown away that two of our school board trustees are now facing criminal charges in Tarrant County for conspiring to circumvent the process and hold a secret meeting,” CISD parent Bonnie Pendergrass said of the arrests. “The fact that they were arrested, posted bond, and had the nerve to show up to our school board meeting that evening is appalling.”
Pendergrass believes that Moore and Carlton should resign immediately. “They have no business making decisions for our children.”
A civil lawsuit has also been filed against the board for violating the Open Meetings Act. Currently, a temporary restraining order is in place forbidding further consideration of CCAP.
It states in part, “Defendant CISD Board shall not permit CISD or any subcommittee of Defendant CISD Board, including the CISD District Diversity Council, to take any further action concerning CCAP. All CISD administrative work to advance CCAP, including work to clarify, revise, publish, or implement CCAP, shall immediately cease.”
“The civil case has always been about enforcement of the Open Meetings Act. It appears the district attorney is likewise interested, and we are gratified by her willingness to enforce the act,” Dusty Fillmore, attorney in the civil case, told The Texan.
The same violation is the basis for both the civil and criminal cases, but at this time, Fillmore doesn’t see that the criminal case will have a direct impact on the civil case.
Last week, the parties in the civil case attempted to resolve the dispute but were unable to reach an agreement, according to Fillmore.
CCAP is touted as a plan to address racial issues and was proposed by the District Diversity Council. It has come under criticism from members of the community as having a political agenda that could infringe on parental rights and punish students who don’t adhere to more progressive ideologies.
CISD did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
The indictments of Moore and Carlton can be found below:
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.