Tuesday, December 5, 2023

“This is not a win win situation” Granbury ISD Board of Trustee’s vote to censure Karen Lowery


School Board Trustee member Karen Lowery was censured in a special meeting called on Aug. 23 after being seen in a library with unauthorized access.

The incident led to a stir in the community on social media and a special meeting to address the accusation that Lowery violated district policy.

With a 5-2 vote, Lowery was censured by the board after a four-hour long meeting that was filled with tension and emotions running high both from board members and the community.

The special meeting began with the board’s attorney Joey Moore giving a report on the incident from evidence collected by the administration.

Over 50 speakers spoke during the open forum session voicing their thoughts on the situation.

Karen Lowery’s Side

Lowery presented a 20-minute-long statement detailing her side of the story. She stated that when sworn in she was issued an all-access card to enter GISD buildings. Lowery also gave details regarding a meeting held with the superintendent, board president and Melanie Graft where Lowery asked about going into the library at any time and school, to which the superintendent told her yes and to make an appointment.

Lowery stated she called the main office of GHS before her visit then later checked in at the front alongside her friend and parent Carylon Reeves. Reeves signed in through the Raptor system, a school safety software. Lowery stated she wore her badge and made note that neither she nor Reeves stated they were going anywhere but the library.

Lowery added that she was not being “sneaky” as some witnesses stated, and noted she casually went in the door she was familiar with noting she was unaware of the door closet when en route to the library.

Lowery stated there was enough ambient light to see in the library that there wasn’t a need to turn on the lights, and that she couldn’t find the light switch. She used her cell phone flashlight to look at books on the bottom of the shelves noting she took photos of the books.

Lowery noted she followed all of the correct procedures in accordance with the Board of Education for visiting district facilities.

“I am not going anywhere,” Lowery said prompting a standing ovation from a large portion of the packed board room, including Board Trustee member Melanie Graft.

“I was elected by the community, and I will fulfill my campaign promises to the best of my ability until my term is over so Mr. Superintendent and President (Herrington) I will be here another two years,” Lowery stated at the end of her speech.

After the speech, members of the board held a discussion and went back and forth on Dr. Herrington’s gathering details not aligning with Lowery’s statement.

The open discussion between the board

“On Aug. 2 I was told by someone in the community, one of our board members was in the library in darkness,” Dr. Herrington stated.

“Name the person,” Lowery responded.

Dr. Herrington did not respond to Lowery and continued, “She said I saw it on social media. That was the first I heard of this on the day of the incident, they saw it on social media, so I called Dr. Glenn to verify that,” Dr. Herington said which Dr. Glenn told Dr. Herrington they were looking into it.

“The next day (Aug. 3) I got copies of the statements that were made, and copies of the security camera videos from the hallways,” Dr. Herrington said before attempting to start reading the full email sent to Lowery after the incident.

Lowery stepped in, “I think the discussion of your accusations was for me to be presented by me. Are we now going to have a debate about what you said and what I said, because I’ve already read most of your email.”

Dr. Herrington noted she sent three emails to Lowery asking if she would like to respond or make a statement to which Lowery noted her attorney advised against responding.

Dr. Herrington also noted that a request for an open records act was requested on Aug. 4.

“I will go on record here and state for this community and Mrs. Lowery that at no time did Dr. Glenn or I put this stuff out for the public,” Herrington noted.

Lowery vocalized her concern noting that posts on social media showing the security camera footage were out within two hours of the incident on social media.

Board Trustee Melanie Graft read a social media post from whom she described as being a “hate group” that she submitted. She named the creator of the post Zeb Ullom. Ullom also created a petition on Aug. 4 that demanded Lowery to resign that had 246 signatures as of press time on Aug. 24.

“This is going to be here before we know it. I’ve been asked by other board members to ask the public taxpayers of Granbury to email the board to express your concerns on this important matter. Speakers will be held to a mere three minutes, but our emails are communicated in full. Please write the board ahead of this meeting so that they can give full consideration to your concerns,” Graft said.

“My question is this; who on this board asked him to do this. What board members did that,” Graft asked.

“I can guarantee you, I did not do that,” Dr. Herrington said.

“I did not either,” Mike Moore said. “What’s the name of the group?”

“I’m not going to give the name of the ‘hate group.’ I think most people know. I’m not going to give it attention. It’s not a place that I would advise anyone to go to so why would I name the group,” Graft responded.

Courtney Gore then asked about the all access card Lowery had mentioned asking if Lowery got a different card than the rest of the board.

Dr. Glenn noted that the card is just to access the doors of the board administration building.

Lowery responded, “I was given it and told I had access to buildings. Sometimes the communication doesn’t come real significantly to the two of us (Graft). We kinda get left out of things.”

“I don’t know what communication you’re referring to. I just know that when I got mine (badge card) I was told it was just for that door (board meeting door),” Gore said.

Graft then gave an example of being left out of communication and noted that at the teacher’s convocation all the names of the trustees were put on a plaque besides herself and Lowery.

“I looked at Karen and said, ‘Did you get that email,’” Graft said.

“It was sent out to every trustee,” Trustee Billy Wimberly said. “The fact that you didn’t sign up for the email is your problem not ours.”

“I can’t sign up for something I didn’t get an email for,” Graft added.

“I did not get that email,” Lowery added.

Lowery then suggested that they end the discussion as it was nearly 10 p.m. and noted people probably wanted to go home.

“Well, I have some questions essential to how I would vote tonight that I’d like to ask,” Gore noted that led to cheers and claps from some of the crowd.

Gore then asked if Lowery asked Assistant Principal Danny Guidry to turn the lights on for her since she claimed she couldn’t find the switch.

“I did not because he never even offered, he just said who are you and what are you doing here and then he left,” Lowery responded.

“He asked if he could assist you,” Gore replied.

To which Lowery claimed he did not, “What we’re doing here is taking his word and the little girl at the front desks’ word and we’re trying to say this is fact and it wasn’t fact.”

Gore then asked if Lowery was stating that the assistant principal and front desk clerk were lying.

“I’m saying that there’s a lot of misinformation going on,” Lowery said. “My testimony is a lot more reliable than a young lady who is sitting behind the Raptor system. What do you think she is going to say?”

“When she said thank you for being here and volunteering, did you correct her in that?” Gore asked.

“She didn’t say that. She said, ‘Have a good day,’” Lowery responded and noted later in the meeting that she had asked for audio and video recordings of her interaction with the receptionist.

“So, we have a case here of her (front desk clerk’s) word and his (assistant principal’s) word against yours is essentially what we have here. They’re saying they said these things and you’re saying you did not,” Gore noted.

Graft then asked if Lowery knew Operation School Supplies was taking place the day of the incident and Lowery said she did not. Graft also asked Lowery to tell the receptionist where she was going, and Lowery said she told the receptionist exactly where she was going and says that’s where she stayed.

Graft then asked who the outside investigator was, and Dr. Glenn noted they had the investigation report in front of each member signed by Joey Moore.

To which Graft and Lowery noted Moore stated in her report she did not conduct the investigation and was presented the information.

“Who talked to the principal, who talked to the other person, who wrote all this up and then gave it to Joey Moore?” Lowery asked Dr. Glenn.

“They were asked to provide statements,” Dr. Glenn said.

“By who?” Lowery asked.

“Who’s they?” Graft asked.

Dr. Glenn then said the school board doesn’t police their members and that they have to police themselves.

“I am happy to provide clarifications on all these questions,” Dr. Glenn said.

“We’re waiting,” Graft responded.

Dr. Glenn then noted he was at Operation School Supplies and left early for an inter-governmental meeting, “which you were aware of because you were there,” he noted to Lowery.

Dr. Glenn then told details of how he received a call after he left Operation School Supplies from assistant superintendent, Tammy Clark, regarding the incident. Clark was alerted by Guidry that Lowery was reported being seen by teachers in the hallways with concern after seeing Lowery using her cell phone flashlight in the library.

The staff at GHS was under the assumption that Lowery and Reeves were at the school to help with Operation School Supplies and Clark asked Dr. Glenn if he wanted Lowery and Reeves to be escorted out, and Dr. Glenn said “No.”

Dr. Glenn then asked Clark to get statements from the high school principal Jamie Robinson, assistant principal Guidry and the receptionist. The statements were then forwarded to attorney Moore.

Dr. Glenn’s explanation led Graft to note that it was not an outside investigation and asked who the outside investigator was.

“Someone was asked from the outside to do that. I guess I asked,” Dr. Herrington said.

“I can explain it again, but I can’t understand it for you,” Dr. Glenn told Graft.

Graft then added that his words were disrespectful.

Dr. Glenn then told Lowery that no one knew she was coming to the campus and that the staff refutes Lowery saying she called and spoke to the receptionist.

“We want parents and board members to come into our facilities. We want to provide that access. We just want trustees and the community and the public to follow those procedures when they do that,” Dr. Glenn stated.

Lowery says she did follow the procedures and suggested reviewing the policies and procedures from the board handbook.

“I don’t think any trustee up here or any trustee in any district in the state of Texas wants to be feared by staff. I can assure you that no employee of Granbury ISD wants to have to walk in and tell a trustee, ‘Hey I’m gonna have to get you out of here, you’re not where you’re supposed to be. They want to have positive relationships,” Dr. Glenn said.

“We get undermined quite a bit with all of this. When I was at the governmental meeting with you two (Herrington and Glenn) and you had already gotten your phone call, why didn’t you pull me aside and say I need to talk to you?” Lowery asked Dr. Glenn.

Dr. Glenn said he had not spoken with the Granbury High School principal at that time.

“We’ll be very transparent with the community. You and Mrs. Graft have said that you want no communication with me, or the other trustees except by email,” Dr. Glenn stated sparking some applause from a part of the audience.

“Did we (Graft and Dr. Glenn) not go to a meeting with you after a bunch of emails back and forth and nothing got fixed so we went in a room with you to discuss at training. We did do that. We’re just saying we don’t want any phone calls,” Lowery responded.

Graft noted they request emails because they can be traced.

“When someone does a public information request, it’s very transparent to the public. They can see everything that we’ve ever discussed. I’ve mentioned that more than once,” Graft said.

Wimberly noted he had a question and said, “You guys are doing all the talking.”

Graft added that she wasn’t done talking.

“We’ll you’ve been talking quite a bit,” Wimberly responded.

Wimberly then asked the school marshals in the room or anyone that would know the answer if the light switches were particularly hard to find in the library.

A meeting attendee raised his hand and noted that the light switches are by the front door.

“You were in there for an hour and 20 minutes and didn’t even think about going to look on a wall for a light switch,” Wimberly asked Lowery.

“The parent that I was with (Carolyn Reeves) looked. We didn’t see it. Like I said there was enough ambient light all we had to do was look we didn’t need the full light on. In fact, there was a person in there when we got there with no light on but they left when we got there,” Lowery responded.

“It didn’t take a mental giant to figure out (to) walk around the wall and look for a light switch,” Wimberly said.

“I’ve not called you any names,” Lowery noted.

“I didn’t call you any names either. It doesn’t take a mental giant to walk around the room and find a light switch. For an hour and 20 minutes I would have walked around and found a light switch and turned it on and gone on and done whatever I had to do,” Wimbery said.

“It would have been a waste of my time to walk around for an hour and 20 minutes looking for a light switch,” Lowery replied.

“You’re wasting a lot of our time here tonight,” Wimberly added.

“I didn’t start this,” Lowery added with cheering from the audience after this response.

Graft noted Lowery did not call this meeting and questioned why there was no approval for the board meeting.

“Actually she (Lowery) asked for this agenda to be put on this meeting,” Dr. Herrington said.

“I didn’t ask for an investigation, nor did I ask for a meeting. A simple sit-down discussion would have been just fine with me,” Lowery stated.

“You didn’t say that,” Dr. Herrington added.

“You’re the board president. You should have offered it,” Lowery noted.

Courtey Gore then noted Dr. Herrington reached out to Lowery several times asking for her side of the story.

“Courtney, you don’t understand,” Lowery responded.

Gore noted she saw the emails sent to Lowery that got no response.

“Because the lawyer said don’t,” Lowery said.

Gore then asked Lowery how there is supposed to be communication.

“Well gee I don’t know maybe instead of sending this long email to everybody she might have just called and said, ‘Karen, let’s go sit down and talk about this,’” Lowery replied.

Dr. Herrington could not call Lowery as she later noted she does not have Lowery’s phone number.

Dr. Herrington then noted the board was getting nowhere with this discussion and that they heard Lowery’s comments.

“If her behavior was so nefarious, then why wasn’t law enforcement called?” Graft asked.

Dr. Glenn said in his opinion that what Lowery did didn’t constitute a criminal act.

“As far as the actions of the administration, we serve with the discretion of the board. We did what we were asked to do in the process,” Dr. Glenn added.

“As board president of this board, it was my responsibility to look at what was happening and the minute I found out I emailed Mrs. Lowery (as she doesn’t have her phone number) with the information that had been reported to me. The minute that I got the other information and evaluated it I sat on it until I found out that an open records request had been made and that it was going to hit the public. As I said in my email to her (Lowery) I thought it was unfair to her for everyone else in the community to have it and not have what facts were being offered. It is not my responsibility to get anybody in law enforcement involved. It’s my responsibility to work with the board to try to work through these things. Three times I reached out to her asking if she had a statement, and if she was going present a statement and responded in one of them that she would. However, I saw the statement the first time and the accusations the first time, and the fact and that she had been in the library for the first time on social media.”

Graft then told the board she met the new Granbury High School principal Jamie Robinson on the first day of school. Graft asked about trustee members coming on campus and if they needed to check in or had to stop by the principal’s office in which Mr. Robinson told her she only needed to check in at the office as he would want to know if a trustee member was there.

Gore then again noted that it is Graft and Lowery’s word versus employees that they have spoken with. Gore asked Dr. Herrington to describe board policies and regulations and asked that the board trustees are required to follow them, and Dr. Herrington told her, “Yes.”

Lowery then read off the school board policies highlighting some policies that related to the accusations against Lowery.

“It talks about visits to campus after checking in with the principal regarding the best time to visit so long as it does not disrupt the learning process, trustees shall check in with the principal’s office upon arrival and follow all campus guidelines for visitors. Trustees are strongly encouraged to display their badge identifying them as trustees at all times. That is what I did,” Lowery noted.

Trustee member Barbra Townsend wanted to make it known to the public that there was no security breach of any kind as much of the public speculated Lowery could have got hold of student records and files.

Dr. Herrington also wanted to make known that every member of the board is committed to keeping libraries safe and everyone has expressed the opinion that the board is against pornography and doesn’t support that kind of material in the library.

Dr. Herrington then said her main issue with the incident was fundamental and referenced the United States Constitution mentioning six different sections referring to rules.

Dr. Herrington then read her prepared comments and referred to the policies of the board. Dr. Herrington also noted that she and Lowery had received over 60 emails at the time Dr. Herrington wrote her comment. Many of which Dr. Herrington said were asking for the resignation of Lowery, and some of the emails asked the board to ask Lowery for her resignation.

“This board was not prepared tonight to ask her for a resignation because those are not even within the purview of our responsibilities. Tonight, what we have to do and this board is to look at the facts that were presented from statements from the staff in this community and to look at the facts of the videos,” Dr. Herrington said. “I would ask all of the board members to look at the summation of the attorney where she thought were breaches of our laws and rules. I would say to you (the board) that you have heard the evidence as presented by the attorney… You have heard Mrs. Lowery’s comments. What we have to do now is determine whose statements are true and whose are not. You have to make your decision solely on facts and not personal opinion or personal likes or dislikes or who is your friend or who is not your friend.” Dr. Herrington added, “I will tell you, this is not a win win situation for us because half of this room is going to go out of here angry tonight. And I would ask whoever that half is angry to not go out joyful showing that you won. No one is going to win in this.”

Dr. Herrington added that a censure is only a public reprimand.

“It has no real authority. We do not have the authority to ask for her resignation. We do not have the authority to do anything else,” Dr. Herrington wanted to make that clear and told the board to vote as objective as they could be.

Wimberly added that he was keeping a tabulation of the speakers for and against Lowery and noted that it was nearly split in half.

“The public here has been deceived in a way I think by groups in the county. I think that there’s two members of this board that are members of these groups. I think they’re destructive to the process of fair play and good politics in the county. I think we’re hurt by that…” Wimberly stated. “I think that there’s groups in this county that have influence over two of our trustees. We have a hard split. There’s very little effective communication because of the way some of our board members want to be addressed or not addressed by other members of the board and that just creates a gap.”

Gore agreed with Wimberly noting communication between the board is key.

“It’s unfortunate that it has come to this. Based on the report we’ve got and the statements from the employees, it’s clear to me that the people at the front office thought that Mrs. Lowery and her companion were there for Operation School Supplies as indicated by the Raptor badge,” Gore said. “The location there was cafeteria. If there was no attempt made to correct that assumption, then that is what has led us here. It should have been corrected in the office at that time so that they knew where they were intending to go.

“One of the rules of a trustee is to set policies for the district in creating policies for the district both of which maintain the integrity of our school district and our role as board members. Our status as elected officials does not give us unfettered access to school campuses nor does it give us the authority to run over the district how we please. We as board members must be willing to follow our own policies so it’s not to create an environment of distrust within the district and the community. “

“It is clear that the actions Mrs. Lowery took as evidenced by the community and the outcry that we have heard tonight has broken some of that trust with our staff, parents and community members,” Gore added.

Mrs. Townsend agreed with Gore noting a lot of the incident was due to the lack of communication being an issue and created a loss of trust within the community and staff.

“The idea that you would have been given counsel not to answer, I just can’t imagine what possible good was supposed to come from that, and I’m sorry that you did receive that type of counsel,” Townsend said.

“The reason that I did receive that type of counsel was because I was told that this was going to the school board, so I thought that it was time for me to be sure that I counsel up too because this person was not going to be representing me,” Lowery stated.

“The only people that pay the price for this no matter what happens tonight, are the kids of this district,” Gore noted.

Lowery added that the board policy needs to be cleared and should be worked on, and Gore agreed.

“I think that coming together and working on that policy is a good first step,” Gore said.

Lowery expressed her concern and confusion again with how the incident got out so quickly on social media, to which Dr. Herrington told her she did not know.

Lowery also expressed concern with how Caryolyn Reeves’ name got out as Lowery claims that was a breach of ethics and asked if an investigation on that was going to be conducted also claiming that Reeves’ name being out has caused a lot of problems.

“I don’t think that’s been nearly as problematic for this district or this community as some other issues have been. I will say that without a doubt, however you perceived my contact with you I think it’s misperceived,” Dr. Herrington said. “I think that this tonight has become more of a vendetta against me as board president than you. I’m okay with that… This has almost become Karen Lowery versus Dr. Herrington and Dr. Glenn evening. It’s a sad thing that we as board members have to bring those of the community to hear this malicious stuff going on.”

The final call

After nearly an hour of back-and-forth discussion between the trustees, a motion was made.

“I’m going to stand with our teachers and our staff and move that we censure Karen Lowery,” Gore said followed by clapping and many cheers from the audience.

Wimberly seconded the motion and the vote to censure was 5-2 with Lowery and Graft voting against. No further action was taken nor was there any more discussion from the board.

Lowery then went around the board room speaking with supporters before exiting the administration building.

According to the Granbury ISD school board policy handbook, under section BBF, ethics board members are required to follow many ethical standards including telling the truth as well as not taking private action that may compromise one’s performance or responsibilities. A public servant commits an offense if knowingly violates a law relation to the office under penal code 39.02(a)

The Hood County News requested comment after the meeting from Mark Lowery, Karen’s husband, but he declined.

To view the entirety of the school board meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z6oMmPsA2c online.

The Incident

A library incident took place at the Operation School Supplies at Granbury High school on the morning of Aug. 2.

A security camera video obtained through an open records request showed Karen Lowery and Carolyn Reeves walking towards the library and shows the two walking around where they spent around an hour and a half.

Board President Dr. Herrington requested a statement from GHS Assistant Principal Danny Guidry who had spotted Lowery in the library.

In an email statement shared with the public as part of an open records request, Mr. Guidry noted seeing two individuals walking around in the dark library.

“They were flashing lights from the phones looking at some books,” Guidry said.

Guidry proceeded to make his way into the library and asked if he could assist the individuals. Lowery identified herself and told Guidry that she had been asked by Superintendent Dr. Glenn to come and look at some books. The other individual did not identify themselves but later was identified as Carolyn Reeves.

Guidry noted to Lowery to exit as soon as possible to which Lowery responded saying, “Thank you” and “It would be fine.”

Reeves asked about a storage room in the learning commons and Guidry informed the individual that it was storage for computer carts and textbooks. Guidry noted that the individual continued to see what was inside the room and opened the door.

Superintendent Dr. Glenn told Dr. Herrington he was not contacted by Mrs. Lowery to schedule the visit to the library.

On Aug. 4 Granbury ISD posted to their Facebook page with a statement from Dr. Herrington.

“The GISD School Board is aware of alleged concerns surrounding one of its trustees on August 2nd, 2023. The district is looking into the allegations and will take appropriate action if deemed necessary.”

After an uproar on social media, the Granbury community became heavily involved and concerned with many comments and opinions as well as the making of a petition.

Chairman of the Hood County GOP, Steve Biggers posted a call to action on social media to attend the Aug. 21 meeting. Biggers claims Lowery has been smeared on social media and requested members of the Republican Party of Hood County to show up and show Lowery they care for her.

The board’s regularly scheduled meeting

The school board meeting on Aug. 21 was the first meeting held after the incident took place. The meeting did not have anything on the agenda regarding the incident but many people across the community came to vocalize their thoughts.

Every seat was filled, and people lined the back walls of the room. The room was divided with strong opinions shared both in support of Lowery’s actions and against.

“Our culture has changed radically and so has schools and so has school boards. To me, this incident was a public deflection to obstruct Karen’s attempt to address the real issue and that was she was canvasing the library for possible potential sexually explicit books that her campaign clearly ran on. I hope you can see this truth and create a future climate and culture of fairness by embracing a positive change,” Sherry Woodel said during the open forum part of the meeting. “I was distressed at the lack of good taste on your board, demonstrating that your own teammate, Karen Lowery, by not publicly discouraging those public verbal attacks and the continued condonations and gross mischaracterizations of her being a rogue trustee implying that she was untrustworthy and an unprincipled person to resign from her position. I was struck mostly by your silence of all these attacks and struck that you lacked the insight of the effects it would have on you as a board. Your boards EFB policy states all material should be appropriate for students. Karen was elected by supporting that premise on those grounds. She’s an extra pair of eyes that was just simply going to the library to see if that was being followed through. Sexually explicit materials was her purpose in that visit,” Woodel added.

Dr. Paula McDonald, who formerly served in Lowery’s seat before being outvoted by Lowery last November shared her thoughts on Lowery’s actions.

“Because I served this school district as a trustee, I fully understand what the title of trustee means. I took an oath, as each of you did to follow all policies and procedures set forth by the district…. Karen, you have screamed transparency and demanded the district do better for two straight years. I’m appalled at your behavior. You are not above the law and cannot do what you wish. As a trustee you are required to know the policies and procedures set forth for all board members… I am embarrassed for you, and I’m absolutely sickened that you desecrated the elected seat in which you sit in. Take note those who digs their heels in so deeply, eventually lose their footing and topple backwards.”

This specific speech from Dr. McDonald sparked many vocal comments including name calling and interruptions of McDonald’s speech from those in support of Lowery.

“With the gravity of the situation, I respectfully demand an immediate investigation and the resignation of Mrs. Lowery due to her apparent breach of ethical conduct. Mrs. Lowery’s involvement in this debacle only deepens the faulty negative perception of our community,” Sharee Westlund said.  “As a concerned citizen and parent, we demand transparency and ethical conduct from our representatives. Let us uphold the principles of authentic leadership by holding our officials to the standards we believe in. Our actions guided by our faith and our values should be a beacon of light that illuminates our path. No flashlight needed.”

“Despite Superintendent Glenn, Dr. Herrington and several other efforts to usurp the will of the parents who elected me to protect the children of this district, I will not be silenced nor deterred,” Lowery wrote, in a public statement on Facebook. “The lies that have been told about my visit to Granbury High School are easily refuted by my appointment and security camera recordings showing that I checked in at the front desk with my badge. Due to the ongoing harassment and untruthful attacks from the GISD administration, I have, at my own expense, hired my own legal counsel. Isn’t it a shame that I have to hire an attorney to protect our GISD students? The work to keep our children safe is not done. I will continue to pursue this issue as long as I am on the Board. I ask any of you within the community, including parents, fellow school board members and teachers who want to help me in this effort to join me by continuing to protect the hearts and minds of our children.”

Lowery had only made a comment via social media on Aug. 21 regarding the incident. The Hood County News reached out to Mrs. Lowery on Aug. 22 requesting a statement but did not hear back.

Back to the spotlight

Granbury ISD is no stranger to being in the forefront of the news as the district pulled many books from the library shelves for review and removed titles that dealt with LGBTQ and transgender topics last year, though Lowery and the volunteer review committee has noted they focus on removing books that involved sex, pornography and vulgarity.

In December, the U.S Education Department’s civil rights enforcement team started a federal investigation in December looking into the district following a complaint last July by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU accused the district of violating a federal law that prohibits based on gender and sexual orientation, according to an article written by reporter Jeremy Schwartz with The Texas Tribune.

Lowery’s Election

Lowery’s campaign trail for the school board last year focused on protecting parent rights, transparency with both parents and citizens, with the main push focusing on not allowing sexually explicit materials in the district. Since being elected, Lowery has remained vocal and firm in her stance regarding the removal of books.

Lowery ran against former board trustee member Dr. Paula McDonald and had the hold of early voting with 56.96% of the vote and McDonald having 43.05%. When all votes were tallied Lowery totaled 11,867 votes with 58.08 percent with McDonald receiving 8,564 votes at 41.92%.

GISD Libraries  

According to Granbury ISD’s library page via the GISD website, “As part of the ongoing internal efforts to ensure age-appropriate library books, librarians perform internal book reviews, review current collections, complete collection inventories, attend collaborate meetings, and draw from district support through bi-weekly onsite visits.”

Granbury ISD recently created a parent communication system for parents to opt-in giving the ability for parents to receive email notifications for their student’s library book checkouts when a student registers for school.

Parents who wish to change their opt-in preferences after the student registration process can do so by contacting Leah Dawson at @leah.dawson@granburyisd.org.

It is also noted that parents should contact the campus librarian to specify or restrict their student’s library book access. 

Books also can go through the challenge process by parents to have a book reviewed under different challenges, including an informal challenge, a formal challenge and the reconsideration committee.

Under the informal challenge, parents shall try to resolve the matter informally through a telephone conference or meeting between the complainant and the school librarian, designated campus administrator, or district librarian.

The formal challenge states that if not resolved through an information challenge, a formal challenge may be initiated by obtaining a reconsideration form.

The reconsideration committee is formed within 10 days of receiving the reconsideration form. The committee is comprised of seven representatives: the principal, librarian, instructional specialist, two parents, a teacher, and the district library coordinator.

Each committee is comprised of different parent and teacher representatives. All committee members must read the challenged material in its entirety.

The reconsideration committee will be guided by a list of questions which consider: Is the book pervasively vulgar? Is it educationally suitable according to the 11 items in the selection criteria?

The book may be removed entirely from all libraries. The book may be moved to an upper-level library. The book may stay in the library in its current location.

What’s next?

Though the board made the vote to censure Lowery, the vote does not have the authority to ask for Lowery’s resignation or to take any further action.

The next school board meeting will take place on Sept. 18.