BISD board scolds Castro; Trustees issue official censure - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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BISD board scolds Castro; Trustees issue official censure

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 9:30 pm

The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees has censured embattled board member Erasmo Castro, who promptly posted his response on Facebook.

The action came at a special-called board meeting on Tuesday during which Superintendent René Gutierrez received a stellar evaluation of his first 100 days on the job. Gutierrez took over as BISD superintendent on July 1.

The report on Castro, who was elected to the board last November, was not nearly as good. The board read aloud and released a statement of Disapproval with Respect to Events Concerning Mr. Erasmo Castro.

“This board has the power to express disapproval when behavior by a single member of the school board casts a shadow or taints the board as a body corporate,” the statement begins. “This board thus feels that it must discipline Mr. Castro by expressing its disapproval concerning recent occurrences, some on social media, which have demeaned the board as a whole.”

Several parents have expressed concern to BISD about Castro’s behavior, some even to the point of filing grievances against him. Among other measures, the board modified its guidelines for members visiting school campuses to require prior approval. A chief complaint involved Castro going onto school campuses unannounced, taking photos of with students and posting them on his web pages.

The statement concerned three issues: attacks against other board members, Castro posting memes that included a student’s image, and third, a request by a grievant to have Castro removed from office. The statement noted that such removal proceedings are outside the powers of school boards in Texas.

“However, this board condemns Mr. Castro for engaging in behavior which introduced the ugliness and anger exhibited by some members of the public at the last few board meetings. The board has the right to condemn and does censure behavior by Mr. Castro, which resulted in introducing such unacceptable and disruptive behavior into our proceedings,” the statement says.

“Finally, to the public, we note that while all seven trustees hold the office of trustee, that the office itself belongs to the public. Our duty as trustees is to protect the good name of the school system and of the board as body corporate. … We want to express to the public, as a body corporate, that this board has taken a step today to protect the integrity and good name of BISD, the good name of the position of each trustee, the good name of all staff and all students and parents.”

The motion to approve the censure passed by a 6-1 vote, with Castro voting against.

In his statement, Castro says Roberts Rules of Order does not allow for censure in the manner approved by the board.

The statement goes on to say that Castro’s “I am the Cheez” is a source of income, that he has marketed himself to the point he has more than 186,000 followers, and followers and friends who have liked his pages more than 6 million times.

“Any action taken by the board to limit my opportunity to continue to earn income from my page(s) will cause me to lose substantial amounts of present and future income,” the statement says.

“Any previous, current or future restraint of my First Amendment constitutional rights as a citizen journalist (as recognized by Breitbart), blogger, talk show host and editorialist will prevent me from performing my duties. Such restraints will significantly limit my ability to earn revenue. You have suppressed me. You are suppressing me and it appears that you wish to continue to suppress me and hence infringing on my First Amendment constitutional rights. Whether it is of your liking or not, this is the way I make my livelihood. It is who I am. It is whom the voters elected to this board,” the statement says.

“Nothing I have done, am doing or will do on social media is illegal. I ask that this board cease and desist any and all form of harassment,” it concludes.

The board also discussed and accepted Gutierrez’s 100-day formative evaluation of “clearly outstanding.” In turn, board members praised the new superintendent’s job performance.

“You showed strong leadership. We’re a large district. … You made every effort to meet all the principals, you’ve been very transparent. I for one am very pleased, and I think the board shares my opinion,” board member Drue Brown said to Gutierrez.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com.

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