News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former School Board Member Alleges Richardson ISD Violated Open Meetings Law

Stella M. Chavez
School board meetings are held in the Richardson Public Schools Administration Building in Richardson, Texas.

A former school board member is suing the Richardson school district and school board claiming they violated the state open meetings law.

David Tyson Jr. served on the Richardson school board from 2004 to 2010. In the lawsuit, he alleges board members had discussions and made decisions about votes on agenda items that did not take place during public meetings.

The suit, filed by Brewer Storefront, says the school board voted unanimously on more than 500 votes during the past seven years.

Attorney Bill Brewer said board members had what’s known as “walking quorums” or “walking meetings” to avoid the requirements of the law, called the Texas Open Meetings Act.

School board meetings require a quorum — or a majority — of trustees in attendance in order to conduct official district business.

The lawsuit alleges that some board members, but not enough for a quorum, would gather privately or correspond by text messages, emails or voicemail messages to reach a consensus on upcoming votes.

“That way, the votes are coordinated. The votes are done in secrecy," Brewer said. "The discussion and the debate that is obviously necessary on items of importance — the deployment of educational resources, the closing, potential opening of schools, the large budgetary items — are all done in secrecy outside the opportunity for people who live in the district and whose children are attending the schools to actually see why and how a decision is being made."

After these private deliberations took place, the lawsuit alleges, board members "intentionally delete and purge the electronic communications," which would have shown evidence of what took place.

Chris Moore, spokesman for Richardson ISD, said the district is aware of the lawsuit but can't comment until it's been served.

This is the second lawsuit Brewer Storefront has filed against Richardson ISD on behalf of Tyson, the former school board member.

The previous suit — which is ongoing — alleges the district’s at-large system for electing school board members violates the Voting Rights Act because it denies fair representation of African-Americans and other voters who aren't white.

Currently, the school board is all white while 30 percent of students are white. Nearly 40 percent of students are Hispanic, about 21 percent are African-American and 7 percent are Asian. 

Richardson ISD Lawsuit by KERANews on Scribd

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.