Last fall in Katy, Texas, 12-year-old Jordan Wooley stood before Superintendent Alton Frailey and other district members and told them that she, a Christian, was given a middle-school assignment that asked her to classify God as a fact, myth, or opinion. When she answered "fact," her teacher marked it wrong and told her the correct answer was "myth."
Her complaint was filmed and posted online as is customary practice at the district meetings. But this time, it wasn't just a handful of Katy citizens that watched this small corner of the Internet. As conservative media outlets caught wind of the story, the video went viral and put the Katy Independent School District in full panic mode. As a result, Superintendent Frailey held a press conference days later in which he said the student was lying.
Fast forward months later after the controversy has quieted: Katy ISD has decided that it will no longer record the open-forum section of the meeting like the one Wooley participated in. From Fox 26:
Monday, Katy's school board moved open forum from its main meeting to work study meetings, and said work study meetings will no longer be recorded.
The district explained to Fox 26, via email, that because of a new state law, posting the main meeting was the only requirement, and that not posting the work study meeting would save the district $4,000.
That recent policy change was supposed to "improve communication with the community," as Fox reports, but has instead been misinterpreted by the district. One co-author of the bill, St. Rep. Terry Canales, is upset:
It's disheartening that the people in the Katy Independent School District would go so far as to lessen transparency.
For them to claim that this is some sort of fiscal problem... I know where Katy is. I know the stature, and the financial position of the Katy school district. For them to use this law as an excuse to hide, or narrow the scope of their transparency, when anybody reading the law would know the purpose of the law is exactly the opposite, is shameful.
A former school board member is placing all the blame on Frailey and says transparency is not a top priority.
"By moving the public comment back to a work study meeting, and not video taping those meetings, they’re not allowing the taxpayers of the district to see what comments other people are making about things of great concern to them," Bill Proctor said.
EAGnews.org adds that Frailey recently announced his retirement after nine years on the job that currently pays him a salary of $288,400.