Citing a divisive ideology, Southlake Carroll leaves nonpartisan school board association

Southlake Caroll school board members voted Monday to leave the nonpartisan Texas Association of School Boards, citing objections to policies that favored diversity and to using tax dollars for services that could be found at a cheaper price.

The vote was 5-1 with Michelle Moore voting against the resolution over concerns that the district needed more time to evaluate the ramifications of pulling out of the association and ensuring that services could be found elsewhere.

The association provides training, policy guidance and risk management to school districts. The district spent $11,000 on the membership and approximately $20,000 on services, according to superintendent Lane Ledbetter.

Before the vote, board president Cameron Bryan read the resolution, and also read a statement that said elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and that the school board association pushes an ideology “that our community specifically and overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box.”

Bryan also said that while the association has a corner on the market, the organization doesn’t have a monopoly on services, and that he is confident the district can find comparable services for insurance and policy guidance elsewhere for less money.

Board member Andrew Yeager agreed.

“This is truly an historic event for this district and for the state of Texas,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to break away from a monopoly, from a non-governmental agency. Monopolies also stifle new ideas.”

Board member Hannah Smith said Carroll needs to be free from “the undue influence of TASB agendas.”

However, Moore cautioned the other board members to hold off on the decision until they had information about comparable services.

“I think we need to pause for a minute,” Moore said. “We don’t know if things will be available for competitive prices, we’re jumping ahead here.”

Moore said she is concerned about the policy guidance the association provides, and that Carroll may spend more in the long run to have the district’s attorneys review policies.

But several board members said the Texas Education Agency offers legislative updates on policy changes.

On Friday, state Rep. Brian Harrison, a Republican from Waxahachie, posted on Twitter that the Carroll school district is leaving the Texas Association of School Boards and praised its “leadership.”

Harrison sent a letter to all school districts in January asking them to consider leaving the Texas Association of School Boards because of the organization’s “divisive” agenda. Harrison included the text of the letter in his tweet about the Carroll school district.

In his letter, Harrison wrote that it took almost a year for the the state association to leave the National School Boards Association after that organization called for federal investigations into parents’ actions at school board meetings.

He also criticized the Texas Association of School Boards over issuing new legal guidelines on transgender policies in school districts that “appears to encourage school districts to refrain from reporting child abuse and to obscure information regarding children exhibiting gender dysphoria from their parents.”

Harrison’s letter also said the vast majority of Texans support conservative values and the rule of law.

The Carroll school board resolution reflects what Harrison wrote and, along with calling for the district to leave the association starting in 2024, it directs the superintendent to put out requests for risk management services and other services needed.

Several speakers in the audience also applauded the district’s move away from the association.

Marvin Lowe, a Frisco school board member, came to Monday’s meeting to voice his support and said he ran for election campaigning for Frisco to leave TASB.

“It didn’t make sense to me that we were taking marching orders from TASB. It just didn’t make sense. When I saw that you guys decided to to put forth a resolution disassociating from TASB, I’m telling you, it’s like I won election again,” he said.

Lowe added that he hopes other school boards will follow Carroll’s lead.

But Jennifer Schutter, a parent in the Carroll school district, said she is concerned as a taxpayer about increasing costs if Carroll left TASB.