Getting Involved in School Districts

The Democrats have declared war on parents. Terry McAuliffe, a former governor of Virginia and longtime Democratic operative seeking to return to the Governor’s mansion stated “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Attorney General Merrick Garland has ordered the FBI to investigate parents that speak up at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.

Here in Texas, two parents have already been arrested and forced to spend the night in jail for the crime of participating in a public school board meeting.

Today, I’m joined with those two parents, Dustin Clark and Jeremy Story and the two brave board members that are fighting back against the abuse of power by the majority of the school board, Danielle Weston and Mary Bone of the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD).

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Jonathan Schober:
I think the case could be made that the most important elected office is at the local level and specifically at the school districts. We’ve all seen the videos that are going around of parents that are getting involved concerned about the things that are going on in their schools, whether it’s critical race theory or property taxes or pornography in the libraries.

And right here in central Texas, it’s happening in two of our school districts at Leander and also at Round Rock Independent School District. I have with me today as my guest, two members of the Round Rock School District board, Danielle Weston and Mary Bone. And I also have two fathers that have been very involved in some of the things that are going on in Round Rock.

And we’re going to talk about community involvement, parent involvement, and honestly, abuse of power by people that are in authority that should know better. Well, guys, welcome to the show. I’m going to start with Danielle. Let let’s start with, before we get into where we are, let’s start with why did you decide to run for school board?

Danielle Weston:
Well, I decided to run because I attended my first school board meeting back in the summer of 2018. I arrived promptly on time at 5:30 and they didn’t let me speak until after midnight during public comments. And at the time I was very concerned about their desire to create a school police force.

And I felt like I had some valid concerns about that. A little bit of background about me, I’m a former air force officer, so is my husband. We’ve been married for over 20 years. We’re a blended family. We have five children. One of my active duty tours was in a security forces squadron. So I had very high regard for the blue. My father is a 25 year police officer, but I have no concerns about the school police force.

And the way I was treated that night in the school board meeting happened to wait so long to speak. I drove home tired, blurry eyed, and I didn’t know what the future was going to hold, but I knew that my engagement in local politics had just changed. I didn’t know what that was going to look like.

What it ended up looking like was I ran for the board in 2018, put together a campaign in about two weeks and I almost won that thing. I lost by less than one half of 1%, but I came away encouraged and I spent the next two years attending every school board meeting in Round Rock ISD, a school district that my children have benefited from tremendously for over a decade.

And I ended up winning by eight points in November of 2020. Mary and I, Mary also ran last year with me and we ended up both winning and we’ve spent the first year of our tenure working really hard to try to work with our colleagues. There’s a lot of diversity on the board as far as different opinions on different things.

And in the beginning I thought we were all going to be able to make this work, but we reached a point where different topics would come and go, controversial topics. Whether it’s masks, whether it’s hiring of the superintendent, how we’re going to hold our meetings. These issues come and go.

But in the, probably the last six months, there’s been a disappointing de-evolution and our ability to work as a team. And it’s become so bad that the other, in my opinion, and as one trustee, obviously I can only speak for myself. I don’t speak for the board, but in my opinion, we’ve now reached a point where if you disagree with the majority on the school board, which I often do, then you’re treated differently.

And not only treat it differently if you’re in the minority as a trustee, but if they perceive that you are in the minority as a member of the public or a parent or a person who attends our school board meetings. We’re going to get into some of those recent events where they’re now treating some of the members of the public different.

So, whereas I came in really enthusiastic about spending my time working to make sure that the resources which are vast, we have vast resources that come to our school district to educate our 47,000 students, to make sure that we are laser focused on serving them. Jon, these are students who many of them have been at home for a year.

The learning loss has been historic. Mary and I are very concerned about this. We talk about this a lot. So I came in really wanting to make sure the educational needs of our students was prioritized, but over the last six months, we’ve devolved into now, I’m spending my time, do we value the rule of law here?

Do we value parental rights? Do we value open government? So the things that I came in a year ago really excited to work on, we have all these distractions now because these fundamental concepts and precepts are under fire.

Jonathan Schober:
Mary, go ahead and tell us about why you ran and what you expected and what you’re seeing now that you’re on the board.

Mary Bone:
Sure. So, I ran because I think public education is really one of the foundations to the greatness of America. I’m a product of public education and my husband’s a product of public education, and both of us being very poor kids with families that didn’t have very many resources growing up.

I hold a doctorate now in engineering and I teach internationally and my husband has a master’s in engineering. And we have made an amazing life for ourselves and I’ve seen what public education can do. And just the opportunities that you get from an education. And we specifically, we’re one of the many families that specifically moved to Round Rock for the public education system.

Round rock ISD is known for their great education. And when we moved here, we have two girls and I love to get involved. So, volunteer at the school and do mentor and you hear rumblings, right? And sometimes that’s just always going to be there, but I also believe in getting involved. So I was on the bond committee in Round Rock ISD for a 2018 bond.

And I met a lot of people and I saw how things were working. And I’m also one of those people that if you’re going to complain about something, I think you should really get involved. And so through that process, I kind of thought, well, maybe I should run for board. And I met a lot of people that thought I had skills. I’m a systems engineer.

And what systems engineers do is we basically build large systems and build processes to govern those large systems and make them the best they can. So I have a skillset that through that bond process, I was like, this might benefit my whole community. And my husband and I have the ability that I could spend some time volunteering and doing that.

So just really giving back and to the public schools was my goal. And so I decided to run in 2020 for school board and with the goal of just making our education system the best it could be. Once we got on the board things have been different than I thought they would be. I thought we would focus. We did run during COVID. So definitely COVID was a factor.

I knew we were going to need strong leaders after COVID and we were hoping to be it after COVID now, but obviously we’re not. But we haven’t really been able to focus on the students since we’ve gotten on the board. We’ve been trying to do our goals for our school district since we became board members in November, but we’ve gotten kind of caught up and I really don’t know what to even call it.

But it’s just a lot of political back and forth. And as Danielle has already mentioned, we’ve gotten into this cycle of if you question or if you’re in the minority, they really don’t necessarily appreciate that or want you to be in the minority. If you look at a lot of boards across America and as I’ve watched my own kids, we have seven trustees and they really love the seven oh votes and they don’t want any dissenting votes.

And I come from the place that I think people should vote the way they should. And even if you’re one just, you vote for that one. And I actually think it makes a board better, right? Asking questions, you get better governance. But that has kind of descended now into a very polarized board of this five, two, and not just a polarized board, but it’s also kind of gone into polarizing the community.

And that is not my desire. I really want to work as a team, but I do want to stay in the realms of the law and the policy. And I am a stickler for law and policy. I’ve worked for the department of defense. I currently consult with NASA. So I’m really bound to lots of policies through my day job.

And I kind of bring that into the boardroom and have the same expectations. So, our goal is always to get back to working as a team, but right now we are at a place where that just isn’t happening the way we want it to.

Jonathan Schober:
So now we’re going to shift over to Dustin and Jeremy. So Dustin and Jeremy, you are two parents in Round Rock Independent School District. And I think let’s kind of get to the meat of what’s going on. So we’ve got Danielle and Mary, they’re on the board, they’re expecting to be able to do good things, make sure that resources are properly allocated for the kids.

To some extent kind of boring, but a very needed job for the community. And then all of a sudden, a couple of crazy parents decide to get involved and people end up in jail. Dustin, why don’t you kind of bring us up to speed from the parent involvement perspective?

Dustin Clark:
Sure, yeah. I’ve got four kids in the district from elementary through high school, and we’re kind of broken down into feeder schools. There’s, I think one of the trustees mentioned, there’s 47,000 or so students, so it’s a large school district. But over time where the last six months I started to get involved.

Initially it was back in April, had to do with some mass stuff. And this was my first time ever going to a board meeting. And I thought similar to, I think, what Mary said is you can’t complain if you’re not involved. And I wasn’t really complaining, but I thought at that moment I think the governor had recently lifted the mask requirement mandate at that point, or at least the city one.

I can’t remember it right now off the top of my head, but I just wanted my voice to be heard that, hey, I think we should have the choice. And so that’s kind of where I started to get involved. And then over the next couple weeks, as I continued to join the board meetings, I learned about the new superintendent being hired.

And so I started asking questions about that process, started learning that the process didn’t seem the same with each trustee. And so I started asking each of the trustees questions about why they chose who they chose. And the great thing I found about Danielle and Mary is that they were very transparent, offered a lot of objective information about why they selected or why they made the decision they made.

And this seemed like the other five, they gave very subjective stuff and it wasn’t… Or I didn’t get a response that actually from a couple of the trustees. They didn’t give a response at all. And then as time went on, we started to get concerned as parents about the qualifications. We started looking into this candidate.

And so we started asking more questions, asking for open forums which was recommended by the search firm that the school district do that. And I don’t know exactly who, but I’m guessing the board president declined to do those open forums in her plan. And then when we asked for them, she did email us back and say that the board decided to not do open forums or that they made a decision after discussing it as a board.

And then some allegations came up with the superintendent shortly after he was hired. And so Jeremy and I both started asking questions among some other parents about these allegations, what the board was doing. We were getting some inconsistent answers from some of the board of trustees and things weren’t adding up. And so we started to speak out.

I know at one point I think Jeremy was the first parent to speak in a public meeting about it. And he was eventually shut off. And this kind of goes back to, I think it was Mary and maybe Danielle made the point too, is if you don’t agree with the five, and I know they both use the word the minority, I don’t think our concerns and the parents who are concerned right now are the minority, but the makeup of the board is a five, two.

And Mary and Danielle sit in a minority of thought, I guess you could say. But I would venture to guess that at least half of the community still holds some conservative values that Jeremy and I have spoke out about in of the superintendent and some of the allegations. And then again, as we have spoken out, and Mary and Danielle mentioned this, if it disagrees with the thought on the other side for the other five, there is either a shutdown.

Either they’re trying to interrupt you and saying you’re not staying on topic for the agenda item, or most recently over the past couple months, there’s been a systematic reduction of the number of chairs in the boardroom to prevent the number of people that can sit in the boardroom and pushing people out to what they call an overflow room where there’s a virtual stream of what’s going on.

But you don’t really get full access to that board meeting. And then most recently for myself, I spoke up during a meeting on September 14th where many of the community were being kept out of the room. The administration, I think it was the administration still haven’t got a clear answer yet, but somebody gave direction to the campus police officers to block the door, to not let any more community members in than the 18 chairs that were provided.

They only wanted the 18 folks to be in there. And so there were 20 or 30 community members out there that wanted to come in. And Mary, Danielle made a couple statements from the Dias about asking why wasn’t the public being let in. So I think at one point, Mary and Danielle ended up leaving the board meeting because the community wasn’t being let in.

And probably five or 10 minutes later, the board started to discuss the agenda item of property taxes, and they were going to change the rate, raise the rate. And so at that moment, I just couldn’t be silent anymore. And so I interrupted the meeting and said, you have to stop this meeting. You can’t talk about raising the public’s property taxes while keeping them out.

There’s 20 or 30 people out there that want to be in. They want to be in here, they want to participate. They want to hear what’s going on. And I was given a warning that if I didn’t stop I’d be escorted out, and I just, like I said, I couldn’t be silent in that moment. So I just kept going. I said, I’m not going to stop talking.

I’m not going to stop standing up for what’s right. I don’t believe what you’re doing is lawful to keep the public out while talking about raising their property taxes. And then eventually they had the police escort me out. They took me outside and we went our separate ways. The police officers went back in and I left.

Three days later, they’d show up at my door, Friday evening and arrest me in front of my eight year old son. And Jeremy and I spent the night in jail. And I know Jeremy’s story is a little bit different than mine in terms of why he got arrested, but he also spoke or was there to speak at that same meeting that I was at that I got escorted out of. And then he was arrested at the same time on the same date, and we were both taken to the same Williams County Sheriff’s office.

Jonathan Schober:
So again, let’s just make sure, you’ve been arrested because you were in a government meeting, a public meeting and you were being kept out of coming in and allegedly there were 18 chairs. Now, how big is this room? I mean, is this something that would only fit 30 people or how big is this room, even if you wanted to do social distancing?

Dustin Clark:
The placard on the walls says the room capacity is 375.

Jonathan Schober:
So according to the fire Marshall, capacity 375.

Dustin Clark:
Correct. Now they had 18 chairs set out, that didn’t count, the chairs for the trustees up on the Dias. And I think one or two others for some administrative officials, but I believe they had a total of 18 set out for the community. So I think that’s barely 5% of the room capacity. Of course, they cited COVID safety as the reason for doing that. This was at the beginning of the meeting.

And in the overflow that they had set up though, they had another, I didn’t count exactly, but probably 50 to 100 chairs. None of them were spaced more than a foot or two apart. Whereas those chairs inside the board meeting room, they were probably six to eight feet apart. I mean, I would say it was more than six feet.

And I know because I was in there. So, Jeremy and some others didn’t end up making it into the board meeting. I happened to get there 45 minutes early. So I was inside. And so my arrest was for hindering the proceedings by disorderly conduct for voicing my concerns and wanting them to stop until they let the public in.

So Jeremy’s was a little different. Jeremy was outside of the board meeting with the other community members that wanted to be let in.

Jonathan Schober:
So let’s talk about the issue at hand. So what’s going on is they’re not letting you in to the meetings. Why do you think this is important? Why do you think it’s important? And I’ll open the stall to each of you? Why is it important that the public have physical access to their representatives for things like this? Danielle, I’ll start with you.

Danielle Weston:
I’ll just say that as somebody, as a parent who attended these meetings for a full two years in advance, I understand. And also just as an American citizen, it’s important. This is one of the things that makes our country different. We’re talking about democracy here. We’re talking about open government.

Earlier I said, it just never occurred to me once I got elected that I’d be having to spend all of my time advocating for these basic principles, the rule of law, parental rights and open government. That’s where we are, Jon. And as a trustee, here I am now, but now I’m a leader. Now I’m not a parent sitting in the meetings. Now I’m on the other side of the table and I’m sitting in my chair at the Dias.

And I see over at the wall that they are using police officers to prevent parents. These are people who have children in our school who pay taxes. That is who we’re talking about. Let’s not forget that we’ve also got children out there who are being denied access into this meeting.

And let me just add that across the hallway in this same building, my own son is one of 300 band students in the high school band in the gym shoulder to shoulder blowing their instruments practicing for their band competition, which they did very well in this past weekend. But it’s just this alternate universe and it was very troubling.

So I had a decision as a leader to make. If I sit here and I go through this meeting, I’m condoning what’s happening here and I don’t. I don’t condo it. So we try to operate within the confines of parliament procedure. So some people might not know that the chair of a meeting, every decision that the chair of a meeting makes is subject to appeal.

Now this is not often used, but it’s right there in Roberts Rules of Order, which is what my school district and a lot of other school districts use to conduct these board meetings. So we’re challenging the decision of the chair to uphold the administration’s decision to keep these people out of the meetings.

So anyway, I became so turned off by it, and let’s remember, I actually went out in the hallway to see how many people are we talking about? Are there 1000 people out there. Jon, it was like 15 or 20 people. And again, these are just parents.

These are people who volunteer in our schools. These are the people who set up the carnivals. These are the people who are PTA members. It was just a bizarre alternate universe. And I look at it and I say, when I get home, I’ve got to look myself in the mirror. And if I stay here, I can’t do that.

So I tried to just excuse myself to just say, due to the hostility being directed towards the public, I believe we have a failure of leadership here because I have concerns about what we’re doing with the Texas Open Meetings Act and so I’m leaving. And I peacefully and professionally stood up, and Mary did as well, and we slowly walked out the room.

Jonathan Schober:
Now, Mary, who would’ve… What did you think would happen when you peacefully and professionally stood up? What did you think the consequences were going to be and what actually happened to you? What did this majority, I’ll just say the majority, what did you think was going to happen and what actually did they do?

Mary Bone:
Yeah, so when I got up to leave, I thought I did it very peacefully. I don’t think lots of people actually even noticed that I got up and left. I was very quiet and I’d packed my stuff up during the recess and when we came back in and I understood that people were not going to be let in, that that was going to be the final decision.

And I just couldn’t be a part of that. I figured the rest of the board would go on with the meeting as agenda and I was okay with that. That was their right, just as it was my right to get up and leave. And I thought that’s really what… I thought things were okay actually for about three days. The meeting was on, was it a Thursday night? And Wednesday night… Tuesday night, it was on a Tuesday night.

We usually have meetings on Thursdays. It was on a Tuesday night. And then that Saturday we were having another meeting, was already set up for the following week. And there was the items added to the agenda that we were going to be censured. And honestly we didn’t know, that was on the Saturday and we didn’t really know what we were being censured for.

And then it wasn’t until the Monday that we found out they posted the resolutions. And it was in regards to us asking for parliamentary procedures during the meeting and we had only been there for 28 minutes. So I mean, it was a very brief interaction. So we were surprised that that’s what we were being censured for.

Danielle Weston:
Even before that, I was just going to say, yeah, before the Saturday posting of the censured resolutions, the Friday night was when Dustin and Jeremy were arrested. So this is how over basically a two week period, the temperature just kept getting turned up and turned up and they would double down and they would make it worse. But go ahead.

Jonathan Schober:
Let me understand you, as a school board trustee, I mean, this is a big ticket, high paying job. You guys get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct yourselves on these board members, right?

Mary Bone:
Yeah, that’s what someone would like you to think.

Jonathan Schober:
Community decision. And again, I want to be clear, we’re not even talking about the issue at hand in terms of whether it’s masks or this or that, or the other. The issue at hand is by law, there’s an open meetings act. And by law, that legislation, those laws were being violated.

And I don’t care what you think about mask or CRT or even pornography. I mean, we can go on, but I want to make sure we haven’t even gotten to that point yet, right?

Dustin Clark:
Yeah. And Jon, if I can to add to that, in Texas Education Code Title 2 chapter 26.007, it talks about parents having complete access. It uses the words complete access to any meeting of the school board. And what Mary and Danielle just described about them getting up and leaving the meeting, if you were watching that virtually or you were sitting in the overflow room, which is what they are claiming is complete access, you couldn’t see that because the camera only points to whoever is talking.

So at the time I believe the board president was talking. And so the camera is pointed at her. You don’t get to see if you were out in overflow room, you don’t have access to see what’s going on. Some of the community didn’t even know Mary and Danielle had left until later maybe when the camera happened to pan to another trustee speaking, and then now that seat’s empty.

And when I was escorted out by the police, the same thing. The camera was pointed, I believe at the board president or one of the other trustees. The camera’s not pointed the other way. So if you weren’t in that overflow room, you didn’t get to see what happened. You didn’t get to see somebody escorted out by the police.

Jonathan Schober:
I want to grab Jeremy. Jeremy, you had a little… You were also arrested. You’re also a parent in the community. Give us a little bit of what happened to you? And again, we’re not talking some back woods country. We’re not even talking about a small town school district. We’re talking about Round Rock Independent School District, right outside of Austin.

I mean, 47,000 students. This is not a little kind of small town rinky dink school district. And we are literal having parents arrested, thrown in jail and spending the night in jail for this. Jeremy, tell us your story.

Jeremy Story:
I’m in public environment, so hopefully you don’t hear a lot of background noise, but yeah, I mean, absolutely perfect statement there that we are not extraordinary people in that sense. Dustin is a captain in the army and I am a minister. In fact, I’m the chaplain of the Republican party of Texas. So if they can do it to me, for all your Republicans out there, they can do it to you.

And for me, my story’s even worse in the sense that a month ago, what I was arrested for happened actually over a month ago. And it was basically what Dustin just said, that when you look at the board camera, you don’t get the same perspective as you get if you were in the room. And mine is a perfect point of that because we had a bunch of parents filming.

And when you look at the video what those parents filmed, what I’m about to tell you, and when you a video with the official board camera filmed that you would’ve had to watch if you were forced outside the room, you would’ve gotten two very, very different perspectives of reality. Except one of them wasn’t reality. That’s the problem.

So what I was arrested for ostensibly was because I was asked to speak during the public comments period by the board chair. I walked up to this stand to begin to speak during public comments after she had called my name. Before I could get to the front, the board chair, her name is Amy Weir, decided that I did not need to speak about what I was… I hadn’t even started yet.

And she said, I hear you’re going to speak about something that isn’t germane. You can’t speak about that. Now, mind you, I had said nothing at that point. I’m just walking to the stand and she says, you can’t speak. So that’s a free speech violation, if anything. I hadn’t even spoke yet. This is during public comments, right?

I’m not being rowdy. I’m not yelling. None of that is occurring. Not a bit. I walk up to the stand, before I even get there she interrupts me. So then I say Miss Weir what I’m about to say is extremely germane to the topic at hand. Would you like to hear me explain that? I kid you not, this is what she says, no.

You couldn’t write it in a book better than that. And so I said you mean you don’t want to hear me speak? And she says, well, no. I mean, yes. I mean, no. I mean, yes. And I said, well, if you’re saying yes, then I want to continue. And I began my speech and I’m reading from a document that I have since released exactly what I was going to say.

And I discussed a resolution that we were talking about that night, of which 90% of it was about public safety and about supervision of the superintendent. That was about 90% of the wording of a two page resolution. I quoted that resolution. I spent about a minute of my two minutes detailing what I was talking about about that resolution.

Right in front of me a Constable had spoken right before me. And he had spoken about rule of law and public safety. I was speaking on the same exact issues, except that I actually referred to the resolution. So I was even more germane. And then I happened to give an example that anywhere the board president didn’t want to hear.

And as I began to get those words out Amy Weir slammed on her gavel, screamed and said, you can do that. It’s inappropriate. And then she waved her hand and called the police officer, so as did the superintendent. If you watch the video, he does the same thing with his hand.

And they come from the back of the room, two officers grab me by either arm and drag me out of the room, down the hallway, through the cafeteria and push me out the front door. That my friends is what I was arrested for, my Republican friends across the state. Not mind you a day later, or two days later, or even a week later, I get arrested randomly a month later.

And my real crime was using an example that the board president didn’t want to hear. My motive for sharing wasn’t about masks. It wasn’t about all these other issues. My motive for sharing was about public safety and the rule of law, which was a major discussion that night.

This school district is using a police force as their own little gestapo to silence people who might speak against them, even on something of this egregious nature.

Jonathan Schober:
Danielle, you had some comments to make.

Danielle Weston:
As a trustee, I’m not in a position to be commenting on anything specific with the superintendent. I will tell you that the board was in receipt of some concerning information about the superintendent back in July. And Mary Bone and I were the only trustees who were asking to have a special meeting.

I mean, obviously we’re not going to be sharing the things that come to us with the public. We’re going to be handling that. Like Mary said, she’s a stickler for the rules. So she’s always adamant about that. So that’s not really why I’m here, but I do want to circle back to the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Because some people might not be aware that during COVID the governor, governor Abbot, actually suspended parts of the Texas Open Meetings Act. This is what allowed elected the officials, county commissioners, city council members, school board members to participate in these meetings virtually which prior to that they weren’t allowed to do.

Before COVID, I couldn’t be zooming in from Idaho and then voting on the tax rate. But during COVID, the governor suspended some of these rules so that our government could operate and move forward unencumbered by the pandemic. All of that changed on September 1st when his executive order that waived a lot of those provisions expired.

So it’s important to note that I was warning the board president leading up to September 1st that things are going to change. And this is all documented via email, okay? That we’ve got to go back to the way it was. The flexibility is gone. We can’t bend this anymore. We’ve got to get back to normal in the Texas Health Meetings Act and in our adherence to it.

The number one reason, if you look up where school board trustees go wrong, nine out of 10 times it’s the Texas Open Meetings Act. So as a trustee, when Mary and I got elected, we were required to have this training on… This is how important this is.

The idea is that in the state of Texas, what we have said is the public who pays for our schools has a right to know what their elected officials are going to be discussing 72 hours before they discuss it. They have a right to share their concerns with those elected officials during public comments and in a regular meeting, you can speak on any topic.

In a called meeting or a special meeting, you’re limited to items on the agenda, but you have a right to address your elected officials and share your concerns. You have a right to be in the meeting. You have all of these rights. And I sense that we were struggling, our board as a whole was struggling with recommitting and having an understanding that that’s what we needed.

So as one person, again, I only speak for myself, I only represent myself, all I could do was warn my colleagues to be prepared for this. So that September 14th meeting which triggered some of these negative events, including the attempted sensors of Mary and I, stem from that September 14th, which is the first meeting since the suspension of the Texas Open Meetings Act expired.

Dustin Clark:
And Jonathan to kind of piggyback on what Danielle is talking about in terms of the struggling to recommit to those parental rights, I attended the in-person board meeting in June. There were no restrictions. And the expiration of the September 1st date still hadn’t occurred, but in June, there was no limitation on capacity.

And to me, it was very interesting that as we started to speak up, then that dynamic changed in terms of how many folks could be in there. But also, and I think it was Danielle that mentioned it earlier, the turning up of the heat of the environment of what was going on that. As the heat was kind of turned up on them, then they wanted to turn around and turn up the heat on the environment of the public and what the public could do and what the public could say.

And like I said, I had attended in-person almost every meeting since June, and there were none of these outbursts and disruptions that they’re claiming were happening now, which is why they needed to have the police there, why they needed to move it to the McNeil Pack Center.

But really my belief is that the administration and with the board president created that environment on September 14th that resulted in me needing to stand up and speak out about what they were doing with the public that resulted in two trustees of the board feeling like they were not participating in a lawful meeting, or at least at the very least that what they were doing was wrong to keep the public out.

And one of them mentioned, I went out the hall and looked and saw 15 to 20 people, had they just let 15 to 20 people and stand in the back, none of this would’ve happened. There would not have been disruptions. People weren’t there to be violent or disruptive, or as one trustee of our board put it.

And so on social media, she claimed that parents were beating down the door and plotting devious harm. Those were words that she made on her social media page. That was further from the truth. None of us were there to disrupt. None of us were there to cause a big scene. None of us were there beating down the doors and plotting devious harm.

We just wanted to be heard. We wanted our free speech to be acknowledged and to have the opportunity to address our elected officials on items that they were putting on the agenda. And we have in Texas every right to do that. And many parents were being denied that right. And so, yes, then it escalated into parents standing outside the room, shouting let us in, let us in.

I mean, at what point, we’re not burning down stores, we’re not breaking things. We’re not looting. We’re just using our voice and asking to be heard. And that over the past couple months has felt like there’s been a ratcheting up to oppress that voice.

And it’s just not right. And Jeremy and I and lot of other parents are not going to stand by and just let that continue. There’s the quote. And I forget who said it, the only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good men and women to stand by and do nothing. And I appreciate trustees, Weston and Bone standing up at that meeting and saying, hey, if you’re not letting the public in, we’re not going to participate in this.

And I felt led to do the same later in the meeting when they started talking about raising the public’s property taxes while simultaneously keeping them out. And so this environment that’s being created by the administration is what’s resulted in where we’re at right now.

And I think Danielle mentioned it earlier, the board just, the public has lost respect for the board, has lost confidence in the board and its ability to govern the school district. And we have to bring down this temperature. We have to get back to allowing the public to participate and to see what’s going on and to be a part of that open government.

Jeremy Story:
Listen, this is historic in the state of Texas. We had a school board that arrested two lawful citizens for doing nothing more than trying to share truth with the public. And then said school board, five members in particular, not the two that are on this call, basically then put out misinformation in the form of press releases and whatnot.

They literally arrested citizens. Not angry, wild citizens, but an ex-army captain and a minister. That is what happened. Why did they do that? Because we were doing something horrible? No. Because we were trying to walk into a board meeting and participate.

In my case, it wasn’t even trying to walk in. It was actually in the middle of my speech, which she interrupted that somehow I get arrested for.

Jonathan Schober:
Jeez, because I want to go onto this arrest. I want to go onto this arrest for just a second. So within the context this was Round Rock police… Sorry. This was the Round Rock ISD police department as opposed to Round Rock city. Is that correct?

Mary Bone:
It was well, Dustin can probably speak better to it, but it was Round Rock ISD I believe that issued the arrest warrant, but it was Wilco I believe that executed it.

Jonathan Schober:
And who does the head of the Round Rock School District police, who do they report to?

Mary Bone:
So the chief of Round Rock ISD police reports directly to the superintendent and that’s actually by law.

Jonathan Schober:
Just to make sure, because I know Danielle, you had concerns about creating a police force within the context of a school district, okay? And I just want to make sure that I have my facts right. That what we have is we have a law enforcement agency who the chief reports to the superintendent that although may not have executed the arrest, they are the ones that issued the arrest warrant, even if Wilco, Williamson County, executed the arrest warrant.

So what we have is we literally have the superintendents police force, they’re the head of it, creating a highly questionable arrest warrant and getting people arrested. Is that the facts of what happened?

Danielle Weston:
When you’re talking about concentrations of power and that’s what a police officer has. A police officer has a lot of power. And I looked up the law and like Dustin said, I know this police chief of a school police force is going to work for the superintendent. That means there are no checks and balances.

And we’ve seen that play out across the state and across the country. A lot of colleges and universities have police forces that work with the chancellor and these things happen. Rapes happen, robberies happen. They don’t want the bad news to get out and they can control the narrative and they can control what gets out because it’s not an external organization.

So I felt like our partnerships with the Sheriff’s office, with the city police, that there was a layer of checks and balances that not only protected all of our community, but it also protected the police officers. Because if you think about the police officers in that meeting last night, again, as a person who’s been attending board meetings for years, I never witnessed the police used in the way they were in that September 14th meeting.

One wonders if there was a check and balance on who was reporting to who. One wonders if we wouldn’t have gone off into the territory that we found ourselves in because of who they report to.

Jonathan Schober:
So I want to change gears just a little bit. So I want us all just put our hats on just as parents, community members. I mean, this almost seems like you throw up your hands, right? Why even try, why even do anything? Why even fight? I mean, Danielle and Mary, you guys are in here united, have been censored by the board.

Dustin and Jeremy you’ve been arrested. Let’s just put our citizen hat on, just our parents’ citizen hat on. Mary, I’m going to start with you. To your neighbor, what would you say to your neighbor?

Mary Bone:
Oh, absolutely. I tell people all the time, this is our generation. I talk to our churches. I think everybody should be involved in our schools. These are our kids and our kids have a lot of needs. We’ve all gone through COVID. There’s a lot of kids that are struggling and they need adults and we need adults in the schools.

We need the talents of the adults in the schools. When we throw more minds at something we come up with better solutions. Of course, it’s one of the reasons I got involved. I noticed I’m an engineer and we’re in Austin area. We have lots of engineers. But engineers sometimes we are more quiet and we don’t necessarily get involved with politics necessarily sometimes.

And so I even saw that we have a lot to offer and everybody. So I told my neighbor, you have a lot to offer the school, get involved in one way, mentor programs, reading to elementary students. We have so many needs, even though we have vast resources. The one resource that we can’t get is human time.

And that is the one resource that we need in our schools. And whether it’s advocacy at the board level all the way down to like I said, just volunteering at the local elementary, reading a half an hour a week to a second grader. These are all needs that we need and we just need more humans. And it’s things that we can’t do virtually, which is what we saw last year, right?

We saw virtual education doesn’t work because these students need humans. It’s the best way we learn. So I would say, just get involved. The future needs it.

Jonathan Schober:
Good. Jeremy, again, just being a citizen, okay? What would you say to your neighbor about, is it worth it? Should you be involved?

Jeremy Story:
I think it’s absolutely worth it. I mean, that’s why we’re here because without, like Dustin said, without us speaking out tyranny reigns. And the way that we don’t see the evil happen is if we speak out and stories that come to my mind is, look, we’re sitting here talking about high level things in the superintendent, board malfeasance, a variety of other things, but who loses in all of this, who ultimately loses are the students, the teachers, the community members that no longer trust their school district, the people that are now afraid to and are under a private gag order in essence that was sort of that they’re afraid if they speak out, the same thing might happen to them.

So what stories are we not hearing? Because the board acts like this, we must speak out. I can tell you privately or not privately, but personally here the night that they wouldn’t let us in the board meeting, they stationed the police officers at the doors. And again, Round Rock ISD, police officers. I had to bring my daughter that night.

I wouldn’t have normally brought her, but she had a doctor’s appointment, just sort of a checkup right before. And you have a deadline you have to sort of sign up for, or you can’t speak if you cross that deadline. And so wanted to make sure I met that and the timing was I had to bring her with me.

So she was standing there with me and I will not forget my daughter seeing the way the police officers are treating me as I was trying to walk through the door and asking me, daddy, why are the officers hurting you? Why are the officers not letting you walk into that school board meeting? Why can’t you go into the meeting like everybody else?

Why are these parents being held out there? And she was in tears, not because she was embarrassed as some of the board members through their never-ending PR disinformation campaign said, but actually she was scared of the police officers because they were under pressure to do something they shouldn’t have.

And these police officers are put in a horrible position, right? Because the board is pressuring them. Somebody had depression because I know that they were telling me personally, I’ve got them on tape telling me that we don’t want to do this. Can you please help us make this easy? This is the kind of situation we’re in.

Another little girl when I just, I’ll close with this in terms of how it affects students, another little girl that was out in the hallway was in tears. You know why? Because her mom had been let in and they would not let her in. And they were trying to figure out a way to let the girl going with her mother to sit with her mother so they could testify together.

And when she went in, Amy Weir, literally, that’s the board president gain, literally threatened this 13 year old girl with being yanked out of the room just like I was. So who ultimately loses when people like Amy Weir choose their personal agendas over kids, are the kids. And so I will speak out again about that.

And I would encourage every parent across the state to speak out for kids because this education is our future and how we treat our kids and how we create a platform for them to do better than we’ve done is all based on education. And when you have leaders at the highest level that are corrupting that, we must speak out to solve this because our whole future is at stake.

Jonathan Schober:
Dustin, if you were talking to your neighbor and they’re looking at all of this and they’re looking at what you’ve been through and what you’ve witnessed, what’d he tell your neighbor? What do you tell your kids?

Dustin Clark:
Well, first I think it’s absolutely worth it. We accept what we allow. We have this thing I say sometimes at work, when I ask if anybody have an issue with doing this thing that we’re about to do, and when there’s no response, I say, well, then silence is acceptance. And often conservatives like to be proud of being the silent majority, but voting is one thing, being actually engaged and involved and understanding what’s going on is another.

We can’t be silent on these issues. We can’t stick our heads in the sand. And I’m guilty of it up until April. I moved to this school district for the schools after I got out of the army. Fort Hood was my last duty station. And we moved here for the schools and for the last four and a half years, I had my head in the sand.

Kids are doing good. We had this good, bad habit as conservatives. We were hanging out with our family. We raised our kids and we go to work. We go to church and then we expect things at school are kind of on cruise control. But really what’s, if you look around, what’s going on in our country, it’s a symptom.

Everything outside after the school, in my opinion, is a symptom because our children and the adults today, all of us, we were taught something very early on in school. We were taught how how civics worked and how we were supposed to be involved. And we were taught math, reading, writing, science.

And everything that’s going on today is a symptom of what happens in the learning environment and the education of a child. And unfortunately, when we stick our heads in the sand the left does not, and they are in the schools and they are teaching our children things that we don’t know if we’re not paying attention. And they’re engaging in surveys.

Just this year, my daughter was subjected to a pronoun survey in her English language arts class. Not sure what understanding pronouns has to do with English language arts, but on the first day of school, the teacher had went around to every kid and had them out loud, say their name and their pronoun. And to me, that’s just not necessary.

Now, if a kid wants to be called something else and they go up to the teacher and say, hey, I’m Suzy, call me Joey and call me he/his. Fine, whatever. But when you go around as a teacher and have every kid recite verbally and take a survey of what their pronouns are, I mean, you might have a kid who’s struggling with their sexuality, and now you’re putting them on the spot to say what, who they are and try to identify themselves in front of their classmates.

And then you’ve got children like my daughter, who is strong in her faith. And she’s sitting there thinking to herself, why do I have to answer this question? But because everybody else is doing it, now I’m feeling pressured because I’ve gotten this teacher who is in authority over me telling me I have to do it.

And the good rule follower my daughter is participated in it and did it. And so if we’re not staying engaged and we’re not asking our children’s, it starts in the home first. First we train up our child in the way they should go, right? It starts in our home and when our children get home from school, it starts with talking to them about not just, hey, how was your day? Good, okay.

It’s asking them, hey, well, what happened in this class? What was your favorite part? What was your best part? Did anything bother you? Really starting to understand, and this is something I’ve started doing this year. And again, I’m guilty of it, wasn’t doing it last couple of years. Probably should have been doing it a long time ago.

Well, we have to be engaged in first in our children’s lives, and second in the schools. Start going to these PTA meetings. There are a lot of folks on the left that take up these volunteer positions and they bring curriculum and content and knowledge sharing to these teachers and then to the students that we’re just not aware of if we’re not paying attention.

So I would say, be engaged, start paying attention, talk with your children, continue to train them up in the way that God wants them to go and the way you want them to go. But we have to get engaged. We can’t keep being the silent majority. We can’t keep sticking our head in the sand and just hoping everything’s going to work out.

Jonathan Schober:
Okay. Danielle, I’m a close with you. You started this. You wanted to make sure that funds were being prioritized and resources were going to the children. You didn’t want to be in this scenario. That’s not why you ran. If your neighbor came and said, hey, I’m thinking about running for school board, what would you say?

Danielle Weston:
Well, Jon, I think that I would say that I want to echo what Mary, Jeremy and Dustin have already said. And I think what they’re getting at is that the days of just paying your taxes and sending your kids to school, and that that meant doing your part, those days are over. That is not the current reality.

If that’s what you’re doing, then you’re going to be really disappointed with what the outcome of that is going to be. So that luxury that we all once enjoyed, it’s just gone. Those days are gone. And I would add with regard to running for school board, I’ll tell you this, somebody wants told me that government belongs to those who show up. And those who show up, those are going to be the decision makers.

And we will get the government we deserve. Right now, and this is kind of to Dustin’s point, he’s owning, I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t know who I voted for in the last school board election. I don’t know who ran. I didn’t vet anybody. I didn’t ask any questions. Right now, like it or not, we have the government that our community deserves.

That’s where we are. We cannot unring that bell. What we can do is get engaged and that mobilization is happening, okay? I’m watching people in this community who I’ve never met that are coming out of the woodwork that are ready to get involved. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves. I’ve got people from around the state reaching out to me.

They want me to speak, they want me to do this. All these things they want to learn. And I’m doing the best that I can to field all of this while I’m raising a family. But government belongs to those who show up and, and we’d get the government we deserve. Mary and I are safe in our seats until 2024.

And I think that one thing that Mary and I understand very well is that the seats that we sit in, we are just temporary stewards of these seats that belong to the citizens of our community. Mary and I have a deep respect and understanding for that. That’s why when we see things that we don’t believe our parents were being respected, that open government is being challenged, this is very clear to us this is wrong.

We’re not confused. There’s no lack of clarity. So we are safe until 2024 because we just got elected in 2020, but the others are going to be on the ballot. And no matter what the voters decide, I will respect the decisions. And I think we’re all in our community, we’re going to learn a lot in the November 2022 elections in Round Rock ISD.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, Dustin and Jeremy, I want to thank you for being good parents and for getting involved. Mary and Danielle I want to thank you for being trustees. I want to thank you for serving with honor, integrity and doing things that you feel is right, even if you’re in a majority.

So thank you all for being and serving and appreciate the time from each of you guys. Well, guys, this has been an episode of The Elephant Heard. We hope that you enjoyed this. If you do have any questions or comments or suggestions for other episodes, if you would, you can give me a text at (512) 729-5 712.

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