School boards across the nation have been trying to shut down the voices of concerned parents and citizens. But, the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) Board of Education took their tactics to a whole new level, proving that they are not interested in hearing from their Texas constituents.
FWISD changed its board meeting guidelines on February 22 to deter community members from coming to speak out. The board changed their meeting location to a new building, hoping no one would notice. They also canceled the live stream of the meeting and positioned the cameras in the room so that the audience was no longer visible in the recording. In addition, signs were limited to a size where nothing was readable.
A police guarded barricade was between the audience and the board, serving as a visual message that they wanted the public as far away from them as possible. Visual presentations were on screens in the back of the room, requiring community members in attendance to turn around instead of facing the front where the board sits. And the heat was turned up full blast in the room, making it as uncomfortable as possible. And worst of all, the trustees moved general public comments to the end of the meeting, which lasted over seven hours. Parents and invested stakeholders didn’t begin speaking until nearly midnight.
But, none of these tactics could keep these bold Texans from showing up at their local school board meeting to express their concerns. Several of them wore pajamas, brought their dinner, and hauled their young children to the forum, proving that they would not back down no matter what ludicrous measures were put in place to try and keep them away.
One mother in attendance said from the podium that she couldn’t afford a babysitter and had no choice but to haul her two young children to the meeting with her. “Do you want to be known as the district who causes toddlers to have to stay up until midnight so their mother can exercise her constitutional right?” voiced Jennifer Crossland.
While the board’s nefarious measures were put in place to hinder the adults, the trustees didn’t consider that they were also punishing the children in the district. Teenagers who came to discuss their desires for their high school were also forced to stay out past midnight on a school night when they should’ve been home in bed.
Longtime FWISD trustee Dr. Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos Jr. struggled to hold back his contempt for the many community members who showed up to voice their opinion despite efforts to keep them out. Ramos shouted, “you don’t own me” in response to requests from the audience to pay attention and look at the mother speaking. He continued by asking that the adults in the room refer to him as “Dr. Ramos.”
Yet, the pressure appears to have been too much for Dr. Ramos, as the former board president announced his resignation from the FWISD Governing Board during a board workshop meeting on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
Parents, keep showing and speaking out because it’s working, as this situation in Fort Worth, Texas and other success stories around the country prove.