Open Meetings Act case against Carroll ISD to return to trial court, according to ruling

A group of people attend a Carroll ISD school board meeting
Carroll ISD's temporary restraining order on work related to the Cultural Competence Action Plan has been lifted. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)

Carroll ISD's temporary restraining order on work related to the Cultural Competence Action Plan has been lifted. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)

Texas’ Second Court of Appeals has dismissed Carroll ISD’s appeal that attempted to toss out a civil suit brought by a Southlake parent alleging the district violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The dismissal of the appeal sends the case back to the 153rd District Court in Tarrant County for further proceedings. The Second Court of Appeals also ruled that the temporary restraining order in the case be lifted. Carroll ISD trustees now have the ability to discuss and work on the Cultural Competence Action Plan if they so choose.

A spokesperson for Carroll ISD declined to comment on Oct. 15 due to the ongoing litigation.

Attorney Dustin Fillmore is representing Carroll ISD parent and Southlake resident Kristin Garcia in the case against the district.

“The Court of Appeals got it right, and we are looking forward to being back in the trial court,” he said.

In an opinion dated Oct. 14, the appellate court dismissed Carroll ISD’s appeal. It stated that the district did not address Garcia's amended petition, which referenced school board votes on Aug. 3 and Sept. 14. Instead the district's complaint addressed the original petition that referenced only the Aug. 3 board vote. The court ruled the district's argument involving the original petition was moot.

The temporary restraining order was first signed in November 2020 by Tarrant County District Judge Josh Burgess, requiring all work on the plan—including clarification, revisions, publication or implementation—to cease. The order applied to the CISD board of trustees and any involved district subcommittees. The webpage on the school district's site about the District Diversity Council has also been removed.

The order by Burgess stated that by moving forward with revisions, the board “is attempting to deprive the plaintiff of the remedies available to her under” the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The appellate ruling is the latest development in Carroll ISD’s ongoing lawsuit for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. The lawsuit was filed after the release of a series of text messages among five board members discussing how to approach the Cultural Competence Action Plan before the scheduled Aug. 3 board meeting.

As of February 2021, the district has spent more than $132,000 in legal fees related to the lawsuit.
By Sandra Sadek
Sandra Sadek covers the cities of Grapevine, Southlake and Roanoke as well as Carroll ISD for Community Impact. She graduated from Texas State University where she majored in journalism and international relations. She has experience working for several local papers including the University Star, the Katy Times, and the Fort Stockton Pioneer. When she's not on the ground reporting, she enjoys a good book and a hot drink. Follow her on social media @ssadek19.


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