A parent has been selected to replace a Keller Independent School District trustee who resigned in December during a heated debate over whether to accept unlicensed religious volunteer services on campuses.
Heather Washington has taken over the Place 7 seat previously held by Ruthie Keyes, who served as trustee for 11 years. Keyes was sworn in on Wednesday and will serve as a trustee until the seat — as well as two others — goes up for election in May.
Washington is a district parent and has volunteered extensively with the PTA, the 4-H Club, and more.
Calling Washington “an excellent addition to the board,” board president Dr. Charles Randklev issued a statement favorable to the new appointment.
“We know Heather is committed to our students, our excellent teachers, and our amazing parents,” Randklev’s statement read, according to WFAA. “We look forward to working with Trustee Washington in our focus to keep Keller ISD a district of excellence.”
Washington also released a statement expressing her gratitude for being called on to serve.
“This appointment gives me an opportunity to continue serving others, and I am committed to exceptional learning opportunities for all students, taking care of our amazing educators and supporting our fantastic parents. I’m excited to get [to] work and I look forward to working with the Board and District in the days ahead,” she said.
Keyes stepped down from the board after trustees voted to allow chaplains to “provide support, services, and programs for students” as volunteers at district schools, as previously covered in The Dallas Express.
“This resolution has locked in my decision to step down from this board,” Keyes said before her departure, according to KERA.
As previously covered in The Dallas Express, the so-called chaplain bill — Senate Bill 763 — was passed by Texas lawmakers in 2023. It allows unlicensed chaplains to serve board-approved volunteer duties in public schools, as well as take on paid positions as mental health counselors using safety funds.
Yet school boards had to vote on whether they intended to enlist these services by March 1.
While Keller ISD has accepted these volunteer services but rejected chaplains coming on as mental health counselors, other school boards, such as that of Dallas ISD, have opted out altogether, as previously covered in The Dallas Express.