Humble ISD trustees will consider removing Trustee Robert Scarfo from all board committees following a poll taken by President Martina Lemond Dixon during a special-called Aug. 18 meeting.

Dixon took a poll of all board members at the meeting, asking whether the action should be considered at the district’s next regular board meeting Sept. 13. Every trustee aside from Scarfo approved the matter being taken up for consideration.

Scarfo is the chair of the district’s finance committee and is a member of the advocacy committee.

The decision to consider Scarfo’s removal from committees is coming after Scarfo questioned whether trustees’ nomination of Dixon to serve as board president for a second consecutive term in June violated the board’s policies and procedures.

“The board directly violated board policy BDAA Local, which expressly provides that, ... I quote, ‘No officer of the board shall serve two consecutive years in any office,'” Scarfo said during an Aug. 9 meeting. “It's very important to recognize that this is about following our own board policies that we have sworn to uphold.”

During that meeting, Scarfo was told that he would be required to request the matter be brought up at a future meeting because it was not included in the Aug. 9 agenda.

According to HISD outside counsel Jonathan Brush, it is within the board's rights to deviate from its policies.

“The Texas Education Code Section 11.151 grants authority in a local school district to take all steps necessary to govern the school district unless a power has been reserved to the commissioner of education or the state,” Brush said, noting school districts have the power to set, interpret and take variance from their own policies. “When a school district passes a policy and then varies from its policy, the school district is not violating the law. At most, the school district is implicitly waiving or suspending the policy when it takes action.”

At a June 21 board meeting, a motion was initially made to appoint Scarfo as HISD's board president. However, Scarfo was required to second the motion himself after a period of silence from the rest of the board.

According to Dixon, she adjourned the board to closed session to discuss the matter privately after Scarfo seconded the motion.

“I did this specifically to prevent Mr. Scarfo from any potential public embarrassment,” Dixon said.

Following the closed session, a motion was ultimately approved to appoint Dixon as president for a second consecutive term.

Several of the trustees who spoke during the Aug. 18 meeting indicated they would have not have approved the appointment of Scarfo during the June 21 meeting.

Trustee Robert Sitton said he had reservations because he felt Scarfo had overworked staff members in the superintendent's office and chief financial officer’s office.

Sitton said from May 2019 to September 2019, Scarfo sent roughly 150 pages worth of emails to the superintendent’s office with requests for information. According to Sitton, Scarfo had also sent a similar amount of emails to the chief financial officer’s office as the district worked on this year’s budget.

“Some of those are requesting documents ahead of time to be prepared, which makes sense, but that’s more work that the CFO has to do,” Sitton said.

Scarfo said he did not feel as if he would be able to effectively do his job as a board member if he did not fully understand the issues the board was considering.

“The questions I ask is because I didn’t know the answer[s],” Scarfo said. “If I raise my hand to vote on something, I want to feel comfortable explaining to a constituent, whether they agree with me or not, why I voted the way I did.”

Trustee Chris Parker raised concerns over an email Scarfo sent to constituents following the Aug. 9 meeting in which he said the board could have addressed the concerns he raised regarding Dixon's presidential appointment but chose to not take action.

Scarfo said he was entitled to send the email.

“I don’t think I should be criticized for doing that because that’s not an attempt to undermine,” Scarfo said. “That’s an attempt to get information out there.”

Additionally, several trustees raised concern over an email Scarfo sent to the Chief Financial Officer Billy Beattie in which they contended Scarfo questioned whether Beattie was being forthright with information concerning revenues for this year's budget. Scarfo said it was never his intention to question whether Beattie was being forthright and that he was only asking for more information.

Once the issue was raised to Scarfo, he said he sent an email to Beattie and Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen apologizing for what he said was a misunderstanding.

Trustees will consider removing Scarfo from board committees at the board's Sept. 13 meeting.