School trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann issued a public apology Monday for making disparaging comments about a recently elected Southlake City Council member, but said she does not intend to step down from her position.
“I can’t believe I did anything so stupid,” she told the Star-Telegram Monday morning.
Haussmann made the comments on Facebook, saying: “SOUTH LAKE - Do you realize because SO FEW voters took the time and responsibility to VOTE in the municipal elections - YOU NOW HAVE A ‘MUSLIM’ on the City Council!!! What A SHAME!!!!!”
The comments were in reference to Southlake Councilman Shahid Shafi, who is Muslim. He, like Haussmann, was elected to his position in May.
The Facebook posting, which was quickly taken down, ignited a firestorm of comments through social media — and in emails to the Star-Telegram — with some comparing Haussmann to Donald Sterling, the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was essentially kicked out of the NBA for racially insensitive comments he made.
In her apology, Haussmann said: “I made an extremely inappropriate comment on Facebook and I wanted to publicly apologize for my statement. I am sorry for the hurt that I have caused. … Several people had complained to me about the changes in the council make-up and my statement was in relation to that.
“Today, I personally apologized to Dr. Shafi — he was thankful for my phone call — and we will be meeting in person shortly.”
She told the Star-Telegram she was “very embarrassed” and attributed the comment to being burned out after campaigning so hard for the Keller school board.
Shafi, a surgeon, said Hausmann’s comments are the first derogatory words directed toward him since he moved to the United States in 1990.
“These comments are just unfortunate and disappointing, but I know it does not reflect the mass majority of people in our society,” said Shafi, a Muslim. “I believe this country and society as a whole is above such comments.”
School board takes
The Keller school board released a statement Monday evening, saying trustees were “disheartened and highly offended with the recent comments made by newly elected Trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann. The Trustees feel strongly that KISD is a district that cannot tolerate any form of hatred, bigotry or intolerance. The officers will be calling a special meeting in the coming days to address this issue.”
According to the school board’s ethics policy, board members vow to be “fair, just, and impartial in all my decisions and actions” and “will refuse to surrender judgment to any individual or group at the expense of the District as a whole.”
It will be up to board members to decide if Haussmann violated the code of ethics.
School board President Jim Stitt said in the statement, “We want our community to know that this behavior by a board member is unacceptable, and that it will be addressed. As leaders of this district, we expect board members to promote respect and care for all members of our community.”
Easy winner in election
In her statement, Haussmann said: “I ran for the KISD Trustee position to bring another voice to our outstanding board — a strong voice of dedication and support. I look forward to focusing on the needs of KISD constituents and stakeholders.”
Haussmann, 62, was the easy winner for the Place 5 seat on the school board, besting three other candidates. She had endorsements from State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-North Richland Hills), State Rep. Matthew Krause (R-Fort Worth), the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party and Empower Texans.
Haussmann served as a Watauga City Council member for four months in 2013 before moving to north Fort Worth, which is in the Keller school district and said she enjoyed her time in city government, wanting to continue her involvement in civic affairs.
She has made anti-Muslim statements before on Facebook, posting comments on a YouTube video before the last presidential election, “DON’T SELL OUT YOUR COUNTRY TO BE A SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST NATION BY NOT VOTING ‘ROMNEY!’ … “I’d rather have a Mormon with HIGH MORALS than a muslim!”
Staff writer Dustin Dangli contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.