The Keller school district, with more than 33,000 students on 39 campuses, encompasses 51 square miles and serves a very diverse population that includes portions of eight other cities including Fort Worth.
In its published “Core Documents,” the district states emphatically in its list of values: “We embrace diversity.”
After a recent Facebook posting by a new board member, some might question whether that statement is true. That is why it is important for the school board to act decisively to repudiate one member’s bigoted words and reassure its constituency that such intolerance has no place in the district or the community as a whole.
Board member Jo Lynn Haussmann, who was elected in May, commented on social media about the election of surgeon Shahid Shafi to the Southlake City Council. Her comment said:
“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!!!!!”
She has issued a public apology, and the rest of the board members said in a statement that they were “disheartened and highly offended.” That statement quoted board President Jim Stitt as saying, “We want our community to know that this behavior by a board member is unacceptable, and that it will be addressed.”
That’s a start, but there should be something stronger, particularly since such statements by Haussmann are not new. Before the last presidential election, she posted comments urging people to vote for Mitt Romney by saying, “I’d rather have a Mormon with HIGH MORALS than a Muslim.”
So there is a disturbing pattern here.
A special board meeting has been called for Monday to determine what options are available to discipline Haussmann, including the possibility of removal.
Although some have called for her resignation, Haussmann has said she will not step down. Her offense, though detestable, probably does not rise to the level of being removed, even if the board has that authority.
Board members should formally vote to reprimand or censure her, noting that such behavior will not be tolerated in a district that embraces diversity.
As for Haussmann, it is up to her to rehabilitate her image and make amends to the district, and especially the Muslim community.