Fort Bend ISD board denounces conduct of trustee Denetta Williams following discrimination investigation

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees adopted a resolution denouncing the actions of fellow trustee Denetta Williams after an investigation found Williams engaged in discriminatory and abusive behaviors against a former district employee. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees adopted a resolution denouncing the actions of fellow trustee Denetta Williams after an investigation found Williams engaged in discriminatory and abusive behaviors against a former district employee. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees adopted a resolution denouncing the actions of fellow trustee Denetta Williams after an investigation found Williams engaged in discriminatory and abusive behaviors against a former district employee. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees adopted a resolution denouncing the actions of fellow trustee Denetta Williams after an investigation conducted by a law firm found Williams engaged in discriminatory and abusive behaviors against a former district employee.

Williams was elected to Position 5 of the FBISD board of trustees in November 2020. Williams declined Community Impact Newspaper’s request for additional comment.

The board resolution, which also called on Williams to resign, was approved 6-1 during the Oct. 18 school board meeting, with Williams voting against it. Williams did not resign during the Oct. 18 meeting.

The resolution came after former district employee Gary Rosier, who served as executive assistant to the board of trustees before resigning Aug. 3, filed a grievance with the district on June 21.

In the grievance, Rosier alleges Williams created a hostile and threatening work environment, harassed and impeded him in the performance of his job duties, subjected him to public and private defamation of character, and mistreated him because of his race and gender, according to a memo from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a Tennessee-based law firm hired to conduct an investigation into Rosier’s grievance.



The district's board policy prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and it requires the district to authorize an investigation when there is notice of prohibited conduct, according to district documents.

In the resolution—which trustees Dave Rosenthal, Shirley Rose-Gilliam and Jim Rice read aloud—the board wrote that Williams stereotyped Rosier by “admitting she believed he was doing a woman’s job and questioned whether he might be homosexual.”

"Because Texas law does not permit a school board to vote to remove a trustee, at most the board can adopt a resolution publicly denouncing trustee Williams' conduct and behaviors, including her repeated failure to comply with laws, board policy and the board's code of ethics," Rosenthal said.

The Sept. 14 Baker Donelson memo cites several email and phone exchanges between Williams and Rosier.

These communications include a May 25 phone call between Williams and Rosier. Witnesses to the call described Williams’ behavior as “abusive,” “bullying,” “unprofessional” and speaking with “fighting words,” because Rosier had not arranged for her in-person attendance at the Texas Association of School Boards Leadership Institute in San Antonio, despite Williams expressing in writing her desire to attend virtually.

“In Rosier, as witnesses describe, Williams saw a white male in a subordinate role in a job she openly regarded as woman’s work. ... Because Rosier played essentially a secretarial role, Williams admits that she thought he was gay,” the memo reads.

Additionally, the law firm memo states Williams retaliated against Rosier for accusing her of wrongdoing. On Aug. 2, Williams sent an email to the board and district administrators asking “what is going to be done about ... this nonsensical complaint by Garrett Rosier,” according to the memo.

In addition to discrimination, the resolution also claims Williams has posted inflammatory comments on social media, violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, shared confidential information on social media, and failed to participate in the superintendent search and board trainings.

After the resolution was presented, Williams said Rosier filed the complaint with malicious intent and alleged he and other district employees had falsified emails related to the investigation. Additionally, Williams pointed to complaints she has filed against the district, including when FBISD failed to host a public hearing before expanding mental health services on campus.

The Baker Donelson memo stated there is no evidence supporting claims that Rosier and FBISD personnel falsified or altered emails.

"I've earned my reputation, I've worked too hard and I've given too much to our kids," Williams said during the Oct. 18 meeting. "You can call me a whole lot of things, but how dare you, as a board, stand up there and call me a racist."

By Claire Shoop

Reporter, Sugar Land/Missouri City

Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.



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