New allegations of misconduct have emerged against Keller Independent School District trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann, including a possible violation of federal student privacy laws.
The allegations stem from Haussmann’s appearance on The Wells Report, a conservative talk radio show on Wednesday, Aug. 12, a day before the board was set to vote on amending its anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Haussmann, in the interview, discusses disciplinary action taken against Casey Akers who has lead the push for the LGBT protections after Akers was told by school officials it wasn’t appropriate to propose to a female friend who is straight.
According to Haussmann, Akers had an “agenda.”
“Well, you know, um, I believe the bottom line in all of this, is the fact that first of all there was a rule broken, a school rule on the promposal that they tried to do. Or that Casey tried to do,” Haussman said.
“Disciplinary action apparently wasn’t followed through appropriately once she came to the school board. I mean, in other words, she comes to the school board, she’s upset, now she wants to change policies. Instead of telling her ‘Well we can’t change policies, you did something wrong, you didn’t follow the rules, now there, you know, the consequences go with that’. So now instead of just being that you’re breaking a rule, all of a sudden you’re opening the door wide for her to be able to with her friend and her mother to sit in a committee meeting to change the policies. Which is irrelevant to her, really, to getting in trouble. I mean it’s like this was just used to try to, you know and, push their agenda,” she added.
Discussing a student’s private information violates the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, without prior consent from the student or a student’s family member.
Under FERPA, the student or student’s family can only disclose confidential information.
Haussmann’s opponents are now asking where she got the information after Ken Romines, later identified as her son, used the same language while speaking against the policy changes at the Aug. 13 meeting.
If she obtained that privileged information in her capacity as a school board member with intent to slander, as some suggest, Haussmann could be in big trouble.
Per state law, a school official, including a trustee, has the right to access district records, including a student’s records, without filing an open records request. In this case, Haussmann, like any other trustee, has access to the student’s records even there is no compelling educational reason. For a student like Akers, the district has the authority to redact any privileged information.
I’ve sent an email to Haussmann requesting comment.
We also want to point out — to Ms. Haussmann and her supporters — that in asking to perform a promposal, Casey Akers didn’t break any rules. It is our understanding that after being told promposals were not allowed, Akers did not go through with it. So therefore, Casey Akers broke no rules. It appears, however, that the question of whether Jo Lynn Haussmann broke a rule or two is still up in the air.