Keller’s Haussmann mired in further allegations of privacy violations, abuse of office


Jo Lynn Haussmann

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.

—  James Russell

In text exchange, Haussmann, Schofield wanted vote for LGBT protections


Jo Lynn Haussmann

According to Keller Independent School District trustees Jo Lynn Haussmann and Brad Schofield, opposing a policy meant to protect LGBT students and employees is, in fact, about the kids.

At least that’s what the two implied in text messages on Thursday, Aug. 13.

The exchange was prompted when, just hours before the board was set to vote on the protections, Superintendent Randy Reid texted the board, recommending they pull the vote from the agenda.

“Just an FYI…I just sent all of you an email to your [school district accounts] recommending that we pull the antidiscrimination policy tonight. Please read and confirm so we can proceed with getting information out,” he wrote, according to records obtained by the Dallas Voice.

“Count this as my ok,” replied board president Craig Allen.

“Mine as well,” Karina Davis replied.

“With hesitation, mine too,” wrote Ruthie Keyes.

Jo Lynn Haussmann disagreed, however.

“I feel we should go through with the vote. We’ve had plenty of time to make any changes. I requested a meeting between the preview [and] vote to have a team discussion and it was refused. We could have even used our Team meeting to do that. Apparently the majority feels good about it as is. You said you supported it 100 percent,” she wrote.

Postponing wouldn’t make any difference, she continued.

“You said you wanted to protect the students. If we postpone the vote, your opportunity to do that is not going to be in effect when school starts,” she wrote.

Another opponent of the policy, Brad Schofield, agreed with Haussmann.

“I think we should not hesitate and move forward with a vote. The kids are counting on all of us,” he wrote. “Don’t let them down.”

Absolutely, Haussmann replied in all caps.

“I have pulled the item,” Reid replied.

But Haussmann wasn’t just concerned about the kids; she was concerned about open meetings laws as well.

“Did everyone vote? I was just thinking, ‘Won’t this be considered an Open Meeting [sic]?”

The decision to pull the item is within the superintendent’s jurisdiction.

“I really wasn’t asking for a vote. Just your opinion,” Reid replied.

In an e-mail to the Voice earlier this week, Haussmann wrote her opposition to the policy was not “against the LGBT’s [sic]” but a student breaking a rule.

Evidently it wasn’t just about breaking the rules either.

It was actually just as other opponents of the policy have said: it was about the kids.

Who knew?

—  James Russell

Keller ISD nondiscrimination ordinance up for vote on Thursday

Jo Lynn Haussmann

Keller ISD Trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann opposes the ordinance

The Keller Independent School District school board will vote Thursday on whether to amend the district’s nondiscrimination policy to protect students and employees from bullying, discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Administrators with the district in northeast Tarrant County crafted it after a lesbian student alleged discrimination based on her sexual orientation by school administrators earlier this year.

Two trustees, Jo Lynn Haussmann and Brad Schofield — backed by anti-LGBT activists — oppose the measure.

In a Facebook post, Haussman wrote the ordinance would “take away [students’] rights and morality.” She then linked to a radio post from the fundamentalist Christian group WallBuilders.

On a radio show this morning, Brad Schofield slammed his fellow trustees for being “too liberal.”

Conservative groups opposed to the ordinance urged members to attend the meeting and voice opposition to the measure, even those who don’t live in the school district and would not be impacted by it.

In an email, the conservative Northeast Tarrant County Tea Party called the ordinance part of the LGBT “agenda” which is “spreading like cancer” and suggests the policy would “fundamentally change America.”

It also warns against “unintended consequences, requiring mixed gender bathroom and locker room use as well as explicit sexual orientation education at all school age groups from K–12.”

Proponents of the ordinance request attendees wear blue and green; bring flags or signs of support to wave at the entrance or silently in back of the room.

“Be respectful at all times,” reads a notice from Fairness Fort Worth. “We aren’t the circus act in the room; they are.”

The board meeting takes place 6:30 p.m. at the Keller ISD Education Center, 350 Keller Parkway, Keller.

—  James Russell

Keller youth petitions his city to add LGBT protections

GSA president collected more than 2,000 signatures before making a presentation at City Hall

Keller High School student Isaiah Smith, right, collected signatures to urge his City Council to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance. The mayor said the council has not decided whether to take action.

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

KELLER— Isaiah Smith, 16, made a presentation to the Keller City Council on April 17 after collecting the signatures from about 1,200 adult residents and  800 youth. He’s petitioning to his city to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in restaurants in the city.

“A person can be denied service at a restaurant,” he explained. “I view this as an injustice. All people should be treated equally.”

Smith was inspired by an episode of the ABC show What Would You Do? that was filmed at Norma’s Cafe in North Dallas. Actors played a waitress and a lesbian couple couple with kids,  and mostly patrons defended the lesbian couple.

Smith said that under state law, he needed to submit his petition to the city within 180 days of collecting the first signature.

He said he was the first signer on Oct. 22, making his deadline April 19.

Bernardo Vallarino from GLSEN Greater Dallas, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said: “He was very eloquent. I was pleasantly surprised.”

Vallarino postponed another meeting to attend and was delighted that he got to hear Smith speak.

“He was as good as any lawyer who addresses a city council,” Vallarino said, adding that Smith was a cut above most citizens who speak before council.

Vallarino said one of Smith’s best points that seemed to catch the attention of council members was that nondiscrimination affects everyone. Smith explained that no one should be singled out because of sexual orientation, whether gay or straight.

Assistant City Manager Steve Polacek said later of Smith: “We certainly appreciate his energy and respect his passion. He’s working for something he loves.”

Mayor Pat McGrail allowed Smith seven minutes to speak, more than the usual three minutes. After Smith finished, a counselor from the Keller school system addressed the council and told them that she is a lesbian and would benefit from having a nondiscrimination ordinance on the books.

Later in the week, Mayor McGrail said, “We certainly applaud Mr. Smith’s passion and commitment to his cause; however, council has not discussed nor decided on any action at this time.”

Soon after he began collecting the signatures, Smith was featured on the Channel 33 news. He said that after that, one woman recognized him and asked him if she could sign. Most of the signatures he gathered by going door to door and discussing discrimination with people in Keller.

Smith, who said he would like to enter politics, said he’s learned quite a bit about the law.

“I had some officers tell me I needed a solicitation permit,” he said. But an attorney confirmed to him that the type of canvassing he’s doing doesn’t require a permit.

“I spoke to the city secretary,” he said. He called her to ask about the procedure to submit a petition and have the signatures verified.

“She was shocked and said she never had a petition like that before,” he said.

He had copies of Dallas and Fort Worth nondiscrimination ordinances that are much broader, covering employment, housing and public accommodations.

“If you work in government, you need to make sure there’s no discrimination,” he said.

While he gets little support from his family, he said he gets lots of support at Keller High School.

“Middle school was hell on wheels,” he said. “But my school is very accepting.”

Keller High School had a controversy with its GSA when it first formed. A Facebook page appeared in October 2011 called “Abolish the GSA, Gay-Straight Alliance, at Keller High School.” As a result of the controversy, the GSA had to move from a small classroom to a large lecture hall to accommodate the number of additional students who began participating.

Now the group has settled in, and Smith said they have movie nights and a number of regular activities.

“They tried to start a ‘straight alliance,’ but no teacher would sponsor,” Smith said. “My school won’t allow a bigoted organization to be part of the school.”

And if they did, they’d have to contend with Smith.

After the jump, the text of Smith’s council presentation:

—  David Taffet

Keller teen to ask mayor to sign marriage pledge

Isaiah Smith, left, collecting signatures in Keller. (Screen grab from KDAF Channel 33)

KELLER — Sixteen-year-old Isaiah Smith wants Keller Mayor Pat McGrail to join the mayors of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and several smaller cities in Texas by signing Freedom to Marry’s pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price have declined to sign the pledge, which now contains the signatures of more than 150 mayors nationwide.

Smith said he’ll be at Keller City Hall this afternoon to address city officials at the the regularly scheduled council meeting. Smith is a junior at Keller High School, but he said he’s not acting on behalf of his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. He said he’s going to City Hall with just one other friend and thinks his mayor should do the right thing.

“I’ll be giving a speech on why he should sign,” Smith told Instant Tea.

McGrail would become the first North Texas mayor to sign, if he listens to his young constituent.

Smith has also been collecting signatures on a petition calling for the council to pass an ordinance outlawing discrimination in restaurants in the city. He will present the petition to the City Council later this month.

Last week in a statewide day of action, callers contacted Rawlings to keep up the pressure to sign the pledge.

—  David Taffet