Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Round Rock School Board's Kangaroo Court: Constitutional Principles Not Relevant

Last night the Round Rock Independent School District voted to censure elected Trustee Terri Romere.  Romere could not be present, as her critically ill mother had been scheduled to move from one hospital to another late yesterday.  Trustee Bobby Seiferman abstained from the vote.

One of the legal principles on which this nation was founded is the right to face one's accuser.  According to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the accused has the right: be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
As Romere's attorney Ross Fischer noted in a letter to the district yesterday, she was not advised of the charges against her.  As last night's kangaroo court demonstrates, her accusers were permitted to make all sorts of wild accusations, and five board members eagerly jumped at the opportunity to convict without benefit of trial or counsel.  Granted this is not a criminal court, but the damage done to Ms. Romere without due process is shocking.

Some of the accusations were positively Orwellian, such as the claim that Romere did not listen to the needs of the community.  Back during the re-zoning controversy, parents of affected communities came out en force to demonstrate that Romere was the ONLY trustee who seemed to care about their plight.  But the most insidious, reprehensible charge, which came from Diane Cox, is that Romere is somehow "physically intimidating."  (Romere is about 5' 2")  There are no witnesses to what Cox claims, so it's her word against Romere's. 

That the Board would take action based on such a serious claim without proper procedure is an outrage, but apparently this Board believes it can do whatever it wishes. And maybe that's the root problem here.  Perhaps school district governance has too much power.  After all, parents and taxpayers are at the mercy of these people whether they like it or not.  Even parents who find it necessary to opt out must continue to surrender precious education dollars to the district to spend as Jesus Chavez sees fit.  And as for elections, Round Rock ISD is huge and trustees are elected at large, so communities that are suffering because of board decisions are easily over-ruled by communities that have been favored. 

Elections are coming in November, and I hope the community is paying attention to the antics of these board members.  But I don't hold out much hope because of the way the district has been structured.  This problem will continue until we find a way to check the power of local school districts. 


Jeffrey Fuller said...

This is incredible. I just started following this story an I must say I am stupefied. Never mind education, it's the politics of power that matters most. If one's opinion differs from that of the board and those in the higher echelons of school administration (believe me, they are one in the same) then she is nothing more than criminal. Kind of sound like the Obama administration... and definitely Orwellian.

roadkills-r-us said...

These people need to be removed from the board ASAP. Their behavior is more reprehensible each day,