Round Rock Superintendent furloughed: Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez’s paid leave pending results of external investigation into allegations of abuse and loyalty – News
Round Rock ISD Headquarters (Photo by John Anderson)
A group of curators round rock isd parents celebrated last week the district’s decision to place Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez on paid leave as a small victory. For months, those parents have been asking for Azaiez’s dismissal over allegations of infidelity and abusive behavior in his personal life. On January 6, the directors of RISD deliberated in camera on a letter from a monitor appointed by the Texas Education Agency (in response to the discord between the administrators themselves), recommending that Azaiez be placed on leave pending the findings of an external investigation. But many parents have argued in multiple board meetings, loud protests and countless Facebook posts that he should be fired altogether. As for the five administrators who defended his position? They should quit, critics say.
When the directors met again on January 6 in open session, the Chairman of the Board Amber Feller explained his reluctance to adhere to the recommendations of the TEA monitor. “I teach a course every two weeks on abuse, neglect and exploitation; I take the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations very seriously,” she said. However, many troubling facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations led her to doubt their validity. “I have repeatedly requested that this board be granted access to the information that TEA and our monitor used to make these recommendations. My requests have been repeatedly denied.” Feller said she voted in favor of the motion to furlough Azaiez, which passed 6-1, reassured in her belief that paid administrative leave is not an unemployment action.
There is no doubt that the charges were co-opted by an increasingly vocal group of Round Rock conservatives for their political advantage; it remains to be determined if Azaiez did anything wrong. Even if a protective order has been filed ex parte against him, he reached a settlement agreement with the other party. Whether or not there was abuse, the facts of an extramarital affair are described in the original application for a protective order. But should a superintendent’s personal life be put in the mirror when it comes to employment?
Raquel Martinez, a militant “watchdog” in Donna DSI in the Rio Grande Valley, where Azaiez was superintendent before Round Rock, called during the board meeting to say yes. Regardless of the validity of the allegations, Martinez told the the Chronicle, the standard that support administrators hold Azaiez to is different from what an educator would face in a similar circumstance. “I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican, whether you wear a mask or don’t wear a mask — that’s up to you,” she said. “If it had been a teacher, that teacher would have been suspended.”