The Round Rock school board on Thursday night voted to ask that an independent investigation into Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez be concluded and that a final report by delivered by its next regular meeting on Feb. 17.
The decision passed on a 5-2 vote after the board met for more than four hours in executive session. Trustees Tiffanie Harrison and Jun Xiao voted against the measure.
On Jan. 6, Azaiez was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation of a protective order filed against him on July 30 in Travis County, a recommendation made by the Texas Education Agency. No charges have been filed against Azaiez and the protective order has expired.
Before heading into closed session on Thursday, the board heard public comments for almost an hour. Most residents were in support of the termination of the three-year, $350,000 annual base-salary contract Azaiez signed in June.
Many expressed concerned that the district did not do a better job to vet Azaiez before hiring him, and for taking so long to take action on the issue.
‘”Your job was to hire the best candidate for superintendent and you failed us all because you willfully choose to disregard (the) allegations, … lack of experience and the numerous requests of the community to pause the hiring process to vet him more thoroughly,” said district resident Christy Slate. “It’s over. Pull the plug. Terminate his contract.”
Some speakers voiced support for Azaiez being reinstated.
“I am asking you to step into your roles as leaders for our district,” said district resident Rebecca Molis. “I am asking you to stand up against the bullying by TEA trying to take away your democratically elected rights to lead our district. I am asking to stand up to the outside agitators trying to tell you what our children need.”
School board President Amber Feller has said she has asked the TEA to give the board access to the information it used to make its recommendations but has been denied.
Daniel Presley, who served for six months as acting superintendent before Azaiez was hired from the Donna school district in South Texas, is again acting in that role.