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North Texans speak out for Northwest, Lewisville ISD teachers targeted online

Three Northwest ISD board members sit at a long desk behind microphones during a meeting
Bill Zeeble
Northwest ISD board president Steve Sprowls speaks during a board meeting on Monday, March 18, 2024. Of earlier hoax bomb threats against a teacher at her home and school, Sprowls called them "pathetic."

At Northwest ISD’s board meeting Monday night — the first sincefake bomb threats targeted a middle school teacher’s home and her campus last week — parents not only defended the teacher harassed and victimized, but praised the district for defending her.

“Party politics, personal opinions, and any biases have no room in the classroom…and with a strong board we have voted in,” said Brandi Romero.

Last week’s phony bomb scare followed online attacks posted by the conservative Libs of TikTok. They targeted a Medlin Middle School teacher who serves as the campus' gay-straight alliance advisor. She also supports the Trevor Project, a nonprofit created to prevent suicides among LGBTQ+ youth.

“As one of our own is being attacked on social media,” Romero said, “and threats are being made at her home and school, it's easy to be pulled in by our own biases and opinions and become keyboard warriors trying to justify our own personal stance. But once again, our district pulls together and in the face of adversity, they have shown what it truly means …to be mature and unbiased.”

Parent Jenny Murray thanked the board for their “unwavering support of students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators, especially during this time right now of unrest.”

NISD board president Steve Sprowls, whose wife teaches in the district, didn’t hesitate last week to call the hoax bomb threat “domestic terrorism.”

Speaking to KERA before Monday’s meeting, he said it’s “just unfortunate that the rhetoric in today's culture, especially in education, has gotten to the point where people feel it's appropriate to put a bomb threat on our campuses and … a teacher's residence. That's just absolutely pathetic.”

Northwest ISD said it will press charges against “anyone involved in criminal activity for either the bomb threat or harassment campaign.”

At the school board meeting in Lewisville ISD last night, some public speakers returned after they were previously prevented from talking at the March 4 board briefing in support of former Hebron High School chemistry teacher Rachmad Tjachyadi.

Libs of TikTok posted photos of Tjachyadi wearing a pink dress on the school’s spirit day, a campus fun day when school rules go intentionally lax.

Shortly after, the district put Tjachyadi — known affectionately as “Mr. T” — on leave pending an investigation, which cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He has since resigned, saying in a statement that “It is because of my love for Hebron and our students that I have decided not to return.

”I know that might sound strange, but any time adult disagreements overshadow our students' learning and well-being, it is time to step away.”

A number of his supporters returned to Lewisville ISD on Monday anyway to demand Mr. T’s reinstatement, including members of the nonprofit North Texas Asian Pacific Islander Public Affairs Association and the Trans Empowerment Coalition, among others.

Stacey Monroe with TEC said Mr. T resigned because of pressure from hate groups targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

“In a profession where exceptional educators are rare, we cannot afford to let prejudice dictate the fate of our teachers,” Monroe told trustees. “I urge you and the members of the board to lead with love, not with hate. There is still an opportunity to rectify this wrong. I implore you to extend an apology to Rachmad and to welcome him back into your school.”

Just one speaker supported Mr. T’s removal.

“Please come up with a professional staff dress code,” Donna Smith asked trustees.

Meanwhile, in Northwest ISD an investigation into the hoax bomb threats continue. The FBI is involved.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.