Katy ISD board of trustees voted 5-2 in favor of a resolution declining to change district’s policy to allow chaplains to serve as school counselors or to be employed in an official capacity as a chaplain during the regular board meeting Feb. 26.

Senate Bill 763, which was passed during the 2023 Texas legislative session, mandated that districts vote by March 1 whether to change their policy to allow chaplains to act in those capacities.

The backstory

The bill stipulates the funding for hiring chaplains could be taken from the school safety portion of the state's contribution to district budgets, an option rejected by many Houston-area school districts, as previously reported.

KISD joined Cy-Fair ISD, Lamar Consolidated ISD and Fort Bend ISD in also voting against adopting the provisions of the bill.

What they’re saying

On Feb. 19, the KISD board discussed the merits of changing district policy under the new law as well as the topic of parental rights in regards to the law. Trustees said they were concerned about the following:
  • Which faiths would be included or excluded
  • Parental rights in religious training
  • Lack of need due to existing mentoring programs
“As I stated before, spiritual formation and religious training are the responsibility of parents and their churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, ... and we cannot expect the schools to take over parenting,” board President Victor Perez said. “I want to make sure that the parents are not in any way a step behind or removed from what's going on with their child. ... I keep focusing on the fact that our role is to educate—reading, writing, math and science, etc. And Katy ISD does a good job of this.”

Those in favor/those against

Trustees Perez, Dawn Champagne, Lance Redmon, Rebecca Fox and Mary Ellen Cuzella voted for the resolution to decline the policy revisions proposed in SB 763.

Trustees Amy Thieme and Morgan Calhoun voted against the resolution, saying they believed a policy could be created that could work for district stakeholders.