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Parent Sues Texas School District Over ‘Secretly’ Hiring A Diversity Consultant

It’s another day for problematic circumstances against DEI in the state of Texas.

A recent report from Billy Gates of NBC-affiliated TV station KXAN-TV said a parent is suing the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, accusing the district of being in “multiple violations” of the Texas Open Meetings Act “after hiring a diversity consultant.”

“In a lawsuit filed by Christie Oates, she said board members and superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard spoke secretly about hiring Dr. Mark Gooden, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant,” Gates wrote. “Gooden, who was hired in Summer 2020, led a district-wide committee to help ‘create a shared understanding of DEI through racial equity leadership training to build capacity and support sustainability,’ among other goals.”

Gates said the lawsuit, which refers to DEI as critical race theory, says the school board didn’t mention talks it had with the DEI consultant in meetings.

During a meeting on June 23, 2020, the lawsuit said superintendent Leonard mentioned in his report that the district had been talking with Gooden for more than six months. The lawsuit also said there wasn’t mention of talks with Gooden in “prior board agendas or meeting meetings or website information.”

The lawsuit also claims that “the public did not and could not have known the extent of EISD’s negotiations and discussions with their handpicked consultant, Dr. Mark Gooden.”

Gates wrote that “the lawsuit said there wasn’t any mention of Gooden, DEI, CRT or anything involving the subject on the meeting agenda for the date, and that no motions were made and votes weren’t taken. In the next board meeting, the board voted 7-0 to hire Gooden.”

Oates’ lawyer, Andy Taylor, said in a statement that the “consultant has led the district away from its long history of academic excellence and caused significant distraction and disruption to teachers, students and parents.”

Around the time Gooden was hired in the district, KXAN reported on racism at Westlake High School, which is an EISD school.

“KXAN’s investigation revealed years of alleged racism among students at the school, and members of the committee Gooden led thought his efforts were helping make Westlake more inclusive,” the news outlet wrote.

Gates wrote that “Taylor said the lawsuit is meant to ‘hold the school board and superintendent accountable for their illegal actions.’ It aims to void Gooden’s contract with the district and have ‘all curriculum and recommended trainings and content removed from the district.’”

KXAN said the school district declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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