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July 19th Board Meeting Report

Last night, Monday, July 19th, the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees held a Special Meeting at the Wayne Shaper Leadership Center. Although the Elizondo Lawsuit was not on the Board’s agenda to discuss, a standing-room-only crowd of attendees showed up to voice concerns about the lawsuit.

During the citizens comment section of the meeting at least twelve speakers were able to address the Board of Trustees before the Board moved on to other matters. Public comments centered on support for the board in the fight against the Elizondo lawsuit, with each speaker taking a different line of reasoning in their remarks.

Notably, not a single speaker addressed the board supporting a conversion to single-member district elections. This was similar to the June meeting, where a smaller but equally one-sided collection of citizens unanimously supported at-large voting in SBISD.

Save SBISD has been copied on some of the written communications made to the Board over the last week by their constituents. Those emails are also one-sided (and very well written, we would add), unanimously supporting the current election system and encouraging the Board to fight our best fight against the lawsuit.

Thank you to everyone who attended, spoke, or emailed the Board supporting our current at-large election methodology. We need to continue to deliver our message that the lawsuit needs to fought with all possible effort, and we fully and publicly support the Board in its efforts to do so. You can email them here.

Last night’s meeting was not completely serene. Citing the large number of speaking requests and the need for the board to address other business, President Chris Gonzalez shortened the time allocation for each speaker to two minutes each. Some speakers were cut off in the middle of their prepared remarks, leading to some mild grumbling from the audience.

Far more disrupting than this procedural change, however, was a lone heckler in the back of the room that continually and loudly shouted down speakers as they were attempting to address the board. The heckler’s actions riled the crowd and made what would have been an otherwise civil meeting a divided and contentious affair.

The heckler’s calls grew more aggressive as the public comments continued. The heckler repeatedly called for the Chair to silence the speakers and stop public comment, a bizarre and cowardly request indeed.

The heckler was briefly successful in completely disrupting the meeting and getting a rise out of the otherwise respectful and supportive audience. In response, President Gonzalez recessed the board for approximately 10 minutes, to allow the heckler a chance to reconsider their actions.

Upon returning to the boardroom, President Gonzalez made it clear that the meeting was to progress without interruption and continued to allow attendees to speak. The next few speakers delivered their remarks uninterrupted (and unanimously in support of the current at-large election method) and civil discourse was briefly restored.

The consistent message in support of at-large elections became too much for the heckler to bear, however, and cries to suppress speech again erupted from their lone, loud voice at the back of the room.

President Gonzalez abruptly moved on to the next agenda item and the meeting progressed without further citizen comment. President Gonzalez made no statement whether she had simply exhausted her list of speakers, or had chosen to move on due to continued interruptions by the heckler. Regardless, the message in support of at-large elections was effectively delivered this time.

President Gonzalez mentioned after returning from recess that the board would take up the lawsuit again at a future meeting. The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is Monday, August 9th. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend, as we will need a strong presence at that meeting to reinforce and reiterate our message.

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