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ISD Trustees Accused of Undermining Colleagues

Education

Frisco ISD Logo | Image by Frisco ISD

An audio recording obtained by The Dallas Express suggests that three far-left members of the Frisco Independent School District’s (FISD) Board of Trustees have been working to sideline two board members and minimize community input on certain policy matters.

At a meeting with constituents at Sweet Waters Coffee & Tea in Frisco, FISD Board President René Archambault, Trustee Dynette Davis, and Trustee Debbie Gillespie fielded questions and apparently discussed how they have been counteracting the efforts of their fellow trustees Marvin Lowe and Stephanie Elad.

An edited video published by Current Revolt appears to substantiate the contents of the recording.

“I am so tired of talking about transgender students in public. I think it’s unhealthy. I think that it is harmful. I’m tired of having things on the agenda so people can come out and speak negatively about transgender students,” said Archambault, commenting on Lowe and Elad’s previous proposal to update the district’s bathroom policies to account for transgender students.

The existence of the recording was made public at Monday evening’s special meeting of the FISD school board, where Lowe accused some of the other trustees of trying to “limit the voices of parents in the district,” as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

Unidentified constituents in the audio voiced their displeasure that Lowe and Elad had any power at all on the school board.

“If two trustees want to place a discussion on the agenda, then we have to discuss it,” explained Davis.

However, Archambault claimed she has been maneuvering to delay initiatives proposed by the two conservative board members.

“I can use our subcommittee structure, and they wanted to vote on this in July. It’s November, that’s how long I’ve been able to push this out,” she said, again referring to the bathroom policy issue.

Archambault went on to suggest that Lowe and Elad were focusing on issues concerning transgender students to garner publicity. She said she would try to schedule meetings on such items that would make it more difficult for the public to attend.

“They want it on regular board meetings because it’s a show. If they ask for anything transgender policy going forward, it’ll be in a special meeting in the middle of the day that nobody goes to,” Archambault said.

School district bathroom policies have been a flashpoint at school board meetings across North Texas in recent years, often prompting dozens of parents on both sides of the issue to attend board meetings and voice their concerns directly to board members.

The release of the audio precedes school board elections this May in which Davis will face a challenger, FISD parent and teacher Reed Bond.

Two contenders filed to run for Gillespie’s seat after she announced in January that she would not be seeking reelection, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The Dallas Express reached out to Board President Archambault and Trustee Davis for comment on some of the statements recorded in the audio but did not receive a response by press time.

However, Trustee Gillespie did speak with The Dallas Express about the recording. She denied that the three board members were attempting to minimize public involvement in school board policy decisions.

“We work tirelessly to get community input, parental input. It’s what we were doing at that coffee shop, listening to parents with concerns,” she said.

Gillespie went on to deny comments attributed to her by Current Revolt. The outlet suggested she made something along the lines of a death threat, quoting her as saying, “Because I’m about to chop and butcher this man, and I’ll feel bad.”

However, Gillespie told The Dallas Express that she did not make those statements and that it was a constituent who was speaking on the audio recording. She also said the statement was inaccurate.”

What was said [was] ‘Because I’m about to chop up and butcher that NAME,” Gillespie said in a follow-up email to The Dallas Express.

Gillespie also accused a trustee from a neighboring school district of secretly recording the meeting.

“Although the meeting was at a coffee shop, it was inappropriate for Garrett Linker to record and share the recording for defamation of character purposes. … He should know the importance of meeting with community members and keeping those conversations safe,” she said.

The Dallas Express reached out to Linker, a trustee for the Prosper Independent School District, to ask if he recorded the meeting. He confirmed he was present but denied that he or the woman he was with made the recording.

“I was helping my mom move and we stopped there to take a break,” Linker said. He said that his mother did not record the meeting either.

CORRECTION (5:26 p.m. 3/10/23): A previous version of this article stated that Gillespie said Linker and an unidentified woman were the only other people in the establishment not affiliated with the constituent group. Gillespie contends she did not make such a statement.

In a follow-up email to The Dallas Express, Gillespie retracted her claim about Linker, stating:

“I was told by multiple sources that Garrett Linker, or the woman he was with, had something to do with the unauthorized audio/video recording. I did not say that they were the only other people in the establishment not affiliated with the constituent group.

“He has contacted me and said that he is not responsible for the recording. So, I will take his word for it and have apologized to him. I should have called him to verify before I shared that with you.”

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