Longtime Grapevine-Colleyville schools trustee Becky St. John said she was the target of a witch hunt after facing accusations that she cursed at another board member and publicly criticized a district policy after she questioned why she did not get an explanation on why she was listed on Monday’s meeting agenda.
St. John asked board president Casey Ford to explain why she was listed as a topic of discussion during executive session, and asked that the discussion take place in public rather than behind closed doors.
“Obviously, I don’t know why this item was on the agenda,” St. John said.
“I was trying to be respectful to you behind closed doors where we could speak as a legal body,” Ford said.
St. John asked whether the accusations against her discussed in executive session met legal requirements and wanted advice from the district’s attorney. Trustees then went behind closed doors. When they reconvened, St. John asked for the discussion to be held in public.
Ford said that he didn’t like airing another person’s dirty laundry, but said that St. John cursed at another board member during a recent meeting and criticized a school district policy. Ford explained that St. John and the other trustees signed an ethics pledge.
St. John denied calling board member Kathy Spradley a name, saying she did not see any evidence of that in the many videos that were emailed to her over the weekend.
Ford said St. John called another trustee the “B” word followed by the “F” word, which violates the board’s ethics standards.
“OK, we are now acting like our middle schoolers,” St. John said.
St. John denied the accusation, but Spradley said she saw St. John mouth the words.
“The email accusations are patently false. I did not call Kathy anything,” she said.
Ford also said St. John called a district policy “trash” but St. John said she was referring to a policy from April and said it required more than 40 pages of legal interpretation.
St. John said she has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, which is why she wants more information on the hiring of the Cantey Hanger law firm to represent the school board.
“Is there a reprimand somewhere? I apologize to the community,” she said.
As the sparring continued, some audience members clapped from time to time. Ford then threatened to remove audience membbers if they continued to be disruptive.
He asked who clapped.
“Just point. Who was that?” he said.
Former board president Jorge Rodriguez admonished Ford for not talking to St. John about his concerns.
“Putting someone on the agenda without telling them is unprofessional. We have a code of ethics. Just talk to the person,” Rodriguez said.
Before the discussion of the accusations against St. John, some in the audience praised the longtime trustee for her hard work and years of involvement in the community, but others said she behaved unprofessionally and pandered to the Texas Association of School Boards and to the news media.
“She continues to use her intelligence and problem-solving skills,” Lori Bland, a retired teacher, said of St. John.
Michael Watson called the accusations against St. John a “power grab.”
Another speaker, Tina Ferguson, said that St. John was held to a higher standard as a board member.
Michael Quinn said there are rules for some but not for others. “That’s not cool,” he said.