A motion to hire an attorney and conduct an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct made against Frisco ISD board trustee Marvin Lowe failed to garner a second, therefore the motion failed to consider possible action regarding the evaluation, duties and discipline of a public officer or employee, including that of Lowe.
Thirty-eight speakers came before the board during public comment, the majority of which voiced their support for Lowe after a report by the Dallas Morning News published on Sunday, Feb. 26, states that a then 16-year-old transgender student, from a school district outside of North Texas, said Lowe made him feel “dehumanized, violated and unsafe” after he spoke on a panel last September at a state educational conference in San Antonio.
The student, from Brownsville, and his mother, who The Dallas Morning News did not name because the student is a minor, sent an email complaint Oct. 22 to Frisco ISD detailing the encounter.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the alleged incident — some details of which have been corroborated by at least two witnesses, including the student’s mother — took place Sept. 28 at the Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators Convention, according to the documents The News received through a public records request.
At the Monday, March 6, board meeting, 12 of the 19 speakers during the stakeholders public comment time spoke in favor of Lowe. During the non-stakeholder portion of public comment, 14 people spoke in support of Lowe and none expressed concerns over Lowe's presence on the board. Those who spoke in support of Lowe used words "compassion" and "integrity" to describe Lowe's character. Those who did speak about their concerns of Lowe's alleged actions, expressed concerns over the incident and his representation of the board in and outside of the community.
Frisco ISD board president Rene Archambault wanted to clarify that the action before the board was not a vote regarding the possible censure of a board member. The action would offer the board the ability to hire an independent resource to investigate the alleged incident involving Lowe.
Board trustee Stephanie Elad expressed her concerns about the action being brought before the board so quickly, as she stated it was her knowledge that the item was placed on the agenda on Thursday, March 2.
"So, in order to make a fully informed decision on this, I think the board needs an opportunity to review all of the information, including documented previous discussions," Elad said. "I also think that we need an opportunity to review the initial complaint that was submitted to the district that I haven't read in months because it has been awhile. Additionally, I do not read the Dallas Morning News and I have not been officially briefed as to what additional information has been provided, I guess, from that article… I am very concerned about the standard that voting for this investigation will set. This current discussion is related to a news article, and I don't know what the standard is on that, but previous related allegations that have been addressed by the board, at least during my time on the board, there has also been time for the board to receive the information, have time to process and digest it, and then make an informed decision."
Elad then presented a motion to table the action item, which was seconded by Lowe. The motion failed by a vote of 5-2, with Elad and Lowe voting in favor.
Lowe then commented on the matter.
"First of all that I would like to say that I appreciate all of you who came out here to speak on my behalf," Lowe said. "It is a really interesting thing for something like this happen, for the newspaper of our area to make these unfounded claims. I tell you that they are not true. We have talked about this in executive session, and we thought it was a done deal. Now, we have come back to address it coincidentally right around election time. Maybe it is just a coincidence, I don't know. Some people think you all are playing politics with this. The bottom line is that you all have developed a really, really low standard for investigations now. A really low standard.
Added Lowe, talking to the five members of the board who voted against tabling the action item. "You are in the majority now, but one day you might not be. Would you like some accusations from some right-wing paper to say something about you, and we spend the district's money to investigate you?
"The bottom line is that there is an article coming out about you Rene, Debbie (Gillespie) and about Dynette Davis, which talks about you all conspiring to limit the voices of parents in this district," Lowe said during his public comments. "And unlike me, there is an actual video tape, a recording, of all you doing this. We can go ahead and do the investigation, I have nothing to hide… I just hope you all hold yourself to the same standard when you see this article and it is made public what you all have done."
Lowe did not present any other details about his public comment, or his allegations made to the board during the meeting. It is not known at this time what news outlet will be publishing the article Lowe referenced during his comments.
After Lowe's comments, board vice president Gillespie made a motion to authorize the board to retain an attorney to conduct a thorough investigation of Lowe into a complaint against Lowe alleging harassment of a minor. The motion did not gain a second, and the motion failed.
No other actions or comments on the matter were discussed during the remainder of the meeting.
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Rick Rogers is the president & publisher of Star Local Media and its 14 print and digital local media publications. Email him at email@example.com.
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