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Parents and community members have called for a Houston school board trustee to resign after he savagely critiqued Black teachers during a racist rant at a school board meeting. Scott Henry of the Cypress Independent School District (CFISD) blamed students’ poor grades and low graduation rates on Black teachers and said diversity efforts were frivolous in comments that left lawmakers, activists and parents aghast.

In a school board meeting on Jan. 10, Onika Mayers, the director of Millennium Learning Concepts (MLC), went through a presentation about diversity and equitable practices and learning opportunities within the district’s middle and high schools. MLC is an organization that provides equity assessments. In the data provided, Mayers noted academic achievement disparities among different racial and ethnic groups.

During the 2019-20 school year, 72 percent of white students reached their academic grade level in English language arts and reading, while less than half of Black, Latino, and economically-disadvantaged students met the mark. Only a quarter of special needs students reached their achievement goals, according to Mayers’ presentation. There were also more Black and Latino students suspended than white students.

“Black and African American students in CFISD are suspended at elevated rates, and that takes away learning time [which] limits their academic potential,” Mayers said. “Black students are less than 20 percent of the CFISD population, but make up nearly 40 percent of students receiving in-school and out-of-school suspensions. MLC noted that this pattern does not appear to impact students of other ethnicities and harms African American students.”

    “Similar to achievement patterns, this discipline pattern is a district-wide concern consistent across CFISD and has profound consequences on student learning and academic outcomes,” Mayers continued.

    She added that the district’s faculty and leadership did not mirror the racial and ethnic demographics of the student body.

    “Hispanic or Latino students and Asian students do not see teachers and leaders across CFISD who look like them and share their cultural backgrounds,” Mayers said. She cited a study that found students are likely to be more academically successful and suspended less if they have teachers who they can racially or ethnically identify with.

    After Mayers’ presentation, Henry, who is white, immediately dissected the data she provided with negative remarks and unfounded theories.

    “I’m a big data guy, so I know data. Data can be skewed any way you want it to,” Henry said.

    He accused the information in the presentation of being “cherry picked” and claimed that the number of Black students who were suspended wasn’t really a big deal.

    “That number [of Black kids suspended] looks big and scary,” he said. “But that’s not really a big number if you’re looking at the total population of the school district.”

    While stumbling over words, mispronouncing “in-school suspension” and “intuition,” he called Mayers’ presentation “a pile of rubbish,” and called diversity efforts financially frivolous. Ironically, he said that the report did not focus on how kids of all races could achieve the same level of education. Rather than focusing on why certain students had poorer performances, Henry bashed the idea of equity discussions. He said he felt someone needed to be fired for inviting a guest speaker to talk about white privilege during a summer program.

    He said none of the recommendations provided in Mayers’ presentation should be adopted.

      Then, before he opened up the floor for others to speak, he blamed Black students’ low graduation rates and performances on the higher number of Black teachers.

      “Do you know what the statewide percent is for Black teachers? Ten percent,” Henry said. “Houston [Independent School District], which I'll use to shine an example, you know what their average percentage of Black teachers is? Thirty-six percent. I looked that up. You know what their dropout rate is? Four percent. I don't want to be 4 percent. …I want to be the premium place where people go to be.”

      Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo led a chorus of condemnation of Henry’s comments. “As a product of Cy-Fair ISD, I’m appalled by Board Member Scott Henry’s insinuation that more Black teachers lead to more dropouts,” she tweeted. “Divisiveness and racism are what’s hurting our students. Not diversity. Resign.”

      “This racist Texas #CyFair school board member just said that more Black teachers leads to worse student outcomes,” a Texas mom wrote on Twitter. “He must resign. And be called out. And maybe sued.”

      “I was deeply saddened and offended to hear the comments made by @CyFairISD School District Board Member Scott Henry. His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately,” wrote Houston Mayor Sylvester Terry.

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also slammed Henry. “The denial of structural racism abets further racism,” they tweeted. “@CyFairISD School Board Trustee Scott Henry’s suggestion that the presence of more Black teachers correlates to a higher dropout rate in any district is false and racist. Our teachers and students deserve better.”

      Henry released a statement Wednesday, implying that the public had taken his rant out of context.

      “I was defending our school district against attacks from an out-of-state political organization,” he wrote. “...This political organization claimed that one metric—the percent of black teachers in our schools—determined the quality of education our students receive. I was simply refuting that by pointing out the fact that there is no one metric that determines the education quality… Diversity is just one of those metrics, it’s not the only metric.”

      Mayers’ presentation suggested that the Cypress school district, which enrolls more than 117,000 students in northwest Houston, needed to offer more support for students of color. She said that rather than focusing on diversity on a larger scale, schools needed to make it more personable and hands on.

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      Tags: innovation independent school district the district’s african american students scott henry’s a school board meeting political organization you know what their school board member black teachers you know what racial and ethnic diversity efforts latino students school district number of black white students black students our students he said teachers really a big education claimed students i know data racist rant

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      Lawmaker’s staff allegedly ran errands for wife and helped with son’s job search

      Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn’s congressional staff frequently performed campaign-related errands at the request of his wife, threw a party for his daughter-in-law, assisted his son in applying for a job at the Pentagon, and were expected to contribute to personal gifts for the congressman such as craft beer on special occasions, according to ethics watchdog documents.

      The House Ethics Committee on Monday extended its review of the allegations against Lamborn and noted that further review “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.” As it did so, it released an Office of Congressional Ethics report and exhibits that said Lamborn may have “misused official resources for personal and non-official purposes” and “solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates,” which could violate House rules and federal law.

      In a statement, Lamborn spokeswoman Cassandra Sebastian said that “disgruntled former staffers have weaponized the ethics process for political and personal purposes” and that “these false and unfounded allegations have no merit.”

      “Congressman Lamborn intends to cooperate fully with the bi-partisan House Committee on Ethics, just as he did with all reasonable requests of the OCE. He remains certain the committee will ultimately reach the appropriate decision by dismissing the OCE's referral and he expects to be fully exonerated,” Sebastian said.


      Not of concern to the Office of Congressional Ethics was the allegation that Lamborn allowed his son to sleep in a storage unit in the Capitol complex, a claim made in a May 2021 lawsuit from a former congressional staffer. Lamborn denied that his son slept in the storage unit, telling ethics investigators: “That's a ridiculous accusation.”

      But his son did spend some nights on the couch in Lamborn’s D.C. office, the congressman said, including when his wife was also staying there. Asked where he and his wife slept when his son was also there, the congressman said that was “getting kind of personal. … I’ll just say in the office.”

      The ethics inquiry grew out of the lawsuit from the former staff member, Brandon Pope, which also charged that Lamborn had a “dangerous approach to COVID-19” and included allegations that staff were required to perform personal tasks for the Lamborn family. Counsel for Lamborn argued that the ethics office demonstrated bias because it described Pope’s allegations as “credible” despite Pope seeking monetary damages from Lamborn.

      But the findings could politically harm Lamborn, who was first elected to the Colorado Springs-area district in 2006. A Republican primary challenger, state Rep. Dave Williams, called on Lamborn to resign over the findings, saying it demonstrates “a culture of corruption that should not be tolerated.”

      “The voters never elected Lamborn to enrich himself off the backs of the taxpayers. If he refuses to step down for the good of our community, then I look forward to working with voters to retire this corrupt establishment politician come June,” Williams said in a statement.

      Ethics investigators, who spoke with Lamborn as well as with five current and former congressional staffers, found “a pattern and practice” of office staff conducting campaign-related tasks for Lamborn and his wife and conducting personal tasks for his family during normal work hours.


      Lamborn’s wife had an official email account, which the OCE noted is not unusual for spouses, but her role “exceeded what is permissible for spouses,” it said.

      The ethics investigation said she regularly asked staff members during normal work hours to complete campaign-related tasks such as picking up mail, and to run personal errands, with chief of staff Doug Anderson making clear that staff were expected to fulfill her requests.

      “Mrs. Lamborn would say, ‘If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy,’” a former staff member told ethics investigators.

      Some of those interviewed said that campaign-related tasks were done voluntarily, or that they were never asked to do personal errands. But one said that his unwillingness to do so led to him being fired from the office. Another backed up the claim that senior staff retaliated against those who did not want to perform campaign work.

      Lamborn said that one of the staff members helped his wife move furniture at the congressman’s home on personal time “on at least one or maybe per — perhaps two occasions.” But he said that his wife’s request that the staff member perform personal tasks was in part due to a “personal friendship” that developed between them, citing a time when the staff member helped his wife set up a Zoom video conference meeting with her daughter.

      She also slept in his office with him “a lot,” according to the congressman.


      Staff members also held a celebration for Lamborn’s daughter-in-law becoming a naturalized citizen in 2020. One former staffer said when he or she asked chief of staff Anderson how they would be compensated for throwing the party, he laughed.

      Lamborn said he could not remember if he attended the party, and that the party was his staff’s idea. “They felt sorry for her because she became a naturalized citizen during COVID,” he said. His legal counsel said the celebration was added to an already-planned party for a staff member.


      The congressman and his wife in 2020 asked staff members to help their son with the process of applying for a job at the Pentagon, the ethics investigation found. Lamborn said that he asked staff to treat his son “the same that they would do for any veteran who was also a constituent,” but ethics watchdogs said they found evidence suggesting otherwise.

      A former staff member said that he reviewed the son’s resume, evaluated job postings, and gave him mock interview questions. Another current staff member helped the son, including with interview question preparation on a weekend.

      Lamborn’s legal counsel said those claims were “highly exaggerated” and that the son already had an interview scheduled and found the staff meeting and advice a “waste of time, but politely sat through it.”


      Lamborn’s chief of staff requested that staff offices provide gifts valued between $125 and $200 to Lamborn and his wife around Christmas and their birthdays, the report alleged. In an interview with investigators, Lamborn recalled receiving a Bible, a theater ticket, and a restaurant gift card.

      A former staff member said he would normally get craft beer for the congressman. “We always had beer for the congressman,” he said.

      “It’s been fairly regular, not uniform though, to be — to receive a surprise Christmas present. And we will kind of do the same for our staff,” Lamborn told ethics investigators. “I don’t insist on it. It’s certainly not a requirement of anyone’s employment.”


      Investigators could not find evidence that any staff members received similar gifts for special occasions, but Lamborn’s legal counsel noted that the Lamborns would gift staff House Christmas ornaments and host holiday meals for the staff ranging from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars total.

      The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the Ethics Committee subpoena Lamborn for additional information, as well as a number of staffers who refused to cooperate with the inquiry. Lamborn initially provided some copies of daily reports to the OCE but refused requests to provide more, citing concerns over personal and privileged information being made public.

      News Congress Ethics Colorado 2022 Elections Washington D.C.

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