CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- On Thursday night, for nearly two hours, the community took turns condemning and supporting a Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District trustee who set off a firestorm when he linked Black teachers to student dropouts.
Scott Henry resisted calls to resign but acknowledged that he could have chosen his words more wisely.
The meeting on Thursday was contentious and followed the trend we've seen of high drama at school board meetings. In front of a packed house were teachers, students, political leaders, and the man who sparked this firestorm with his comments regarding the value of Black teachers spoke.
"Because I dared to disagree that it equates to high retention rates, there have been threats upon my life, and my wife and my children have been targeted. I will take responsibility for not saying it more eloquently," Henry said.
In his first public comments since Monday, Henry said his passion for students led him to make a false equivalence between Black teachers and high dropout rates. Three days later, 34 people showed up at a board meeting to respond. A teacher spoke out to clarify the value she said she brings to her students.
Supporters of Henry said he was the focus of a political attack. Some said they thought the audit on diversity and inclusion took away from a focus on academics. Two political leaders spoke out against Henry's comments, and a student asked the adults in the room to prioritize them.
A majority of the speakers said they support the equity audit Henry was arguing against and continued calls for his resignation. None of the board members echoed those calls, though Gilbert Sarabia, Lucas Scanlon, Debbie Blackshear, Julie Hinaman, and Tom Jackson indicated some support for understanding the audit and implementing some changes in the district.
Jackson is the president of the board. He apologized to the community, students, teachers, and said he sent a formal apology to Houston Independent School District's superintendent. Henry's remarks on Monday insinuated that HISD's dropout rate was linked to a higher percentage of Black teachers.
No action was taken on the topic beyond the comments made by board members and the public.