At the GCISD board of trustees meeting Aug. 23, Mitchell Ryan claims Rodriguez infringed on his free speech when Ryan spoke during the public comment section about Colleyville-Heritage High School Principal James Whitfield.
According to a copy of the lawsuit posted in the Facebook group “Colleyville Citizens for Accountability,” Ryan alleges he could not speak about Whitfield in depth because of the district’s policy that doesn’t allow citizens to identify district employees by name during a public forum. Ryan hired Tony McDonald of Austin to represent his case.
At the meeting, Ryan began his public comment by saying that “there are 56 languages spoken in GCISD, but the universal language is the language of love.” Later, he mentioned Whitfield by name. He was interrupted by Rodriguez, who reminded him of the rules. Ryan then asked if Rodriguez was saying he couldn’t finish his comment.
“I am telling you that you cannot be mentioning and making complaints of our employees during open forum,” Rodriguez said.
Because of the large number of individuals who signed up for public comment at the meeting, residents were only given one minute to speak. And due to the back-and-forth between Ryan and Rodriguez, compounded by audience interruptions, Ryan ran out of time to finish speaking.
“President Rodriguez is expected to enforce the policy again at the board’s future meetings in ways that will further silence Mr. Ryan’s speech,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the case docket, Ryan filed for a temporary restraining order against the district Sept. 21. However, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas declined to issue the restraining order Sept. 27. A hearing will be held Oct. 12 at 9 a.m.
In an email to Community Impact Newspaper, GCISD Executive Director of Communications Kristin Snively declined to comment on the recent ruling.
“This remains an ongoing legal matter with a hearing scheduled for October—so I will refrain from commenting until then,” Snively wrote.