Two candidates with children in the Carroll district are vying for a vacant school board seat in this fall’s special election.
Early voting starts Oct. 18 and continues through Oct. 29. Election day is Nov. 2.
Andrew Yeager and Stephanie Williams are running to fill the Place 7 seat after trustee David Alman resigned this summer. The district and a school board election last spring have been marked by division over a proposed diversity plan.
Both candidates in this fall’s election have teaching backgrounds and said their experience is valuable for the school board.
Yeager, a media sales director and adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, moved to Southlake eight years ago from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He volunteered for the Carroll High School band boosters and is a member of Southlake Sister Cities.
Yeager said he decided to run because it was time to use his leadership skills and to give back to the school district that helped his children thrive in programs such as engineering and computer animation. Yeager has two children who are graduates of the Carroll school system and one who is a senior in high school.
“I always played a leadership role in my personal life and in my kids’ lives,” he said.
Carroll diversity plan
But he added that when he heard about the district’s Cultural Competence Action Plan, or CCAP, that ratcheted up his involvement.
The plan was proposed as a starting point for dealing with complaints from students who were marginalized and who reported that they were bullied and intimidated because of their race or sexual orientation. The plan, which was designed to increase inclusion and track bullying, came about after videos of students shouting a racial slur went viral.
But critics said the plan promoted reverse racism and that it teaches critical race theory.
During the summer of 2020, the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition was formed, and the student-led group got hundreds of testimonials from former and current students who experienced discrimination.
The Cultural Competence Action Plan is on hold over an ongoing court case.
Yeager said he was concerned about “the policing of intended and unintended microaggressions.”
He was also concerned when he learned that the Code of Conduct was not being consistently enforced and student complaints weren’t addressed through “proper channels.”
Williams, a former teacher, said she is running because she has a passion for education. Williams is a fitness instructor and an independent facilitator for the Love and Logic Institute. She has two children who graduated from Carroll and two who are still in school.
Williams said none of the current trustees have classroom experience. “I feel I could offer that perspective,” she said.
Focus on students, education
Williams said it is time for trustees to talk about students and their education.
“We’ve talked about hyper-political issues,” she said. “We should find some common ground, find consensus, and move our community forward. Most of us moved to Southlake because of the schools, and we need to find a way to make them better.”
Williams said it is important to create an environment where all students feel safe and welcome at school. “We heard from over 500 students who didn’t feel that way,” she said.
Williams said she is not funded by a political action committee and is not running on an agenda.
“Political ideology has no place in a local, nonpartisan, non-political school board election,” Williams stated on her website.
Yeager also said he is not supported by a political action committee, but says on his website that he is endorsed by the Southlake Families PAC. Others who endorsed Yeager include Southlake mayor John Huffman and trustees Cam Bryan and Hannah Smith.
Yeager said he was exposed to 40 different nationalities as he grew up in Ann Arbor. Southlake is becoming naturally diverse as people from different ethnic groups move to the community because of the schools, he said.
Yeager said he is aware of the stories from students who did not feel welcome in the district. He said it is important to get incidents reported through the proper channels.
Yeager said his platform focuses on making sure students have a good grounding in the core competencies and to address the losses in test scores when children learned virtually.
He also wants to see a balanced budget and teachers’ salaries increased.
Mask mandate, COVID protocols
Williams and Yeager differ over mask mandates and COVID protocols.
Yeager said the school district should follow the governor’s order stating that school districts cannot issue mask mandates.
“It is a personal decision between the parents and students,” he said.
He said the district has offered to make accommodations such as having plexiglass shields if requested.
Williams said following science is key. “An education organization needs to follow the experts. A hundred doctors recommended COVID protocols,” she said.
Williams referred to a letter signed by physicians from Southlake asking the district to have COVID protocols such as a mask mandate.