Open Letter to the School Board Members of the Round Rock ISD

December 13, 2012

Round Rock ISD
1311 Round Rock Avenue
Round Rock, Texas 78681

Open Letter to the School Board Members of the Round Rock ISD:

As inconvenient a truth as it may be, you do not work for one another.  You are elected by citizens and are accountable to the citizens.  As elected members of the school board, you have no authority or responsibility to censure a fellow board member.

You abuse the authority of this body by using a censure vote as a campaign tool to admonish a fellow member who you do not agree with, or to silence a member, or to discourage a member from asking questions and seeking information.

The free exchange of information between government and the people—we who elect and create that government—is fundamental to the democratic process.  The right to know what our government is doing is one of our greatest freedoms.  The First Amendment protects all speech — including political speech — to facilitate self-government, and its exercise depends on access to government information.  Censuring an elected board member, a citizens’ representative, for seeking information to make an informed decision runs counter to these principles.

It is a legitimate duty of the school board members to ask questions and to have information you deem necessary to make decisions on school district matters – specifically concerning expenditure of funds.

To admonish a fellow member is an abuse of your position and can be considered purely political.

The National School Boards Association has sanctioned this practice of school board members censuring fellow members, but we at Americans for Prosperity do not support this politically motivated tactic to coerce board members behavior.   Taxpayers are the arbitrators of their elected officials, not fellow board members.

Had El Paso ISD school board members known their responsibilities and assumed those responsibilities, they would have seen and read the audit report, which their superintendent denied providing to them and which he had said they did not have the authority to receive.  As you all know, that superintendent is now behind bars, but before his conviction, parents and taxpayers were cheated out of education funding and kids were cheated out of educational opportunities.

In Texas, access to public records belongs to everyone–including this board—and censures aimed at discouraging elected members from seeking such information is a clear attempt to impede our right to do so through our representatives.

Taxpayers want our elected officials to ask the tough questions – even ones the Superintendent may not want to answer.  After all, you do not work for the Superintendent.  The Superintendent works for you.  And fellow board members do not work for you.  They work on behalf of their constituents.

We taxpayers want our elected officials to ask questions and welcome them investigating issues they are asked to vote on – particularly if they are not given information they deem adequate to make an informed decision.

Peggy M. Venable,
RRISD Taxpayer and Texas Director of Americans for Prosperity

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