Republican members of the State Board of Education reportedly left their board meeting early on Wednesday, leaving the discussion and decisions to a Democrat majority.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) met in Austin this past week from Tuesday to Friday. Political consultant Aaron Harris told The Dallas Express that during Wednesday’s meeting, five Republican members of the SBOE left early in what appeared to be a “coordinated” move.
He said these members included Will Hickman, Pam Little, Patricia Hardy, Tom Maynard, and Audrey Young. The Dallas Express contacted all five individuals for comment but received no response by press time.
“[At] about 7:30 p.m. … in what appeared to be a coordinated deal, five Republican members just up and left,” Harris said. “Will Hickman went first, and then Tom Maynard, Pat Hardy, and Pam Little followed suit. And then eventually a little later, Audrey Young left as well.”
“What [the Republican members leaving] did was it gave effective control to the [four] Democrats who remained,” he asserted. “The Democrats, of course, didn’t leave.”
Harris said he believes the members’ decision to leave was a “dereliction of duty,” as they left before a “very important” discussion about a “suitability rubric for instructional material” that the SBOE is drafting “from scratch” to comply with HB 1605, which passed during the most recent legislative session.
“The SBOE is going to have to create a rubric to approve all instructional materials that are in classrooms moving forward. This is literally the beginning of the process that will determine every single instructional material in the classroom in Texas,” he explained.
“We had the first discussion of what that rubric was going to look like … and they left before that, and this is something that is going to have a long-term generational impact on what’s in our classrooms,” Harris continued. “They didn’t want to tackle that issue … so they just left.”
He added that on Tuesday and Friday, the Republicans accomplished their agenda, but Thursday was comprised of “a bunch of closed-door meetings,” while Republicans “lost most of everything” on Wednesday — the day the five members left early.
However, Audrey Young told The Dallas Express that while she did leave the meeting on Wednesday, she “returned and stayed until the end.” In a subsequent clarifying statement to the news outlet, she said she left at 6 p.m. and came back by 7:30 p.m., staying until around 9:30 p.m.
“There was no discussion about social studies,” she added. “We will return on December 13th for a special called meeting to finish the suitability standards rubric.”
The Texas State Board of Education has a few board meetings annually, approximately one meeting per quarter. Each meeting however can sometimes last most of a week.
UPDATE: This article was edited to include a clarifying statement to The Dallas Express by SBOE Member Audrey Young. The change was made at 3:35 p.m. on December 1, 2023.