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Carroll ISD School Board Appears To Back Down After Reprimanding Teacher

SOUTHLAKE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - A Carroll ISD teacher's fight to clear her name is testing the limits of a school board's power.

Rickie Farah, a 4th grade teacher at Carroll ISD's Johnson Elementary, reached an agreement with the district's school board Monday, January 24, following a controversial move last year by the board to discipline her.

"Ms. Farah is pleased with the outcome and grateful it has been resolved," said Steven Poole, executive director for the United Educators Association.

Rickie Farah
Rickie Farah - 4th grade teacher at Carroll ISD's Johnson Elementary (CBS 11)

The board had reprimanded her after a parent complained about a book she had in her classroom titled, "This Book Is Anti-Racist" and accused Farah of bullying her daughter.

In doing so, it overruled both the school principal and district superintendent who had determined Farah did nothing wrong.

Concerns of a conflict of interest arose after campaign finance records revealed several board members received donations tied to the parent who'd filed the complaint.

"Teachers, you know now that your administrations, your boss cannot protect you from the political ambitions of our board and the parents that donate to their campaign," parent and former teacher Erin Ingram said, addressed the board Monday.

Farah filed her own complaint alleging the board had violated state law in the way it handled the grievance against her, prompting the special meeting.

Half a dozen parents addressed board members urging them to rescind the discipline.

"You see, she's the best teacher my son ever had," Kelsey Headrick told the board.

Headrick admitted she'd initially been outraged by claims being shared online of a teacher's inappropriate behavior.

"The buzz word I kept hearing was bully," she said in an interview with CBS 11 News.

Then, Headrick said, she discovered the teacher accused was one she knew and trusted.

"I don't think she has a political agenda. I don't think that she was trying to teach controversial things to our children. I think she was trying to teach her students to love all people – and that, I think, was the whole purpose and point. That's definitely the message my son heard," she said.

Because it involved a student, the board heard Farah's appeal behind closed doors.

Though details of the agreement they reached remain confidential, the board voted unanimously to recognize the responsibility of a principal, under state law, in what appeared to be an admission they had erred in issuing the reprimand.

"The board of trustees acknowledges that under Education Code section 11. 202 B4 the campus principal is responsible for any discipline at the campus level," stated Trustee Andrew Yeager.

According to the specific code cited, the principal does so under the supervision of a district superintendent.

"The board of trustees does not intend to limit the discretion or responsibilities of the superintendent or the campus principal," said Yeager.

A wide smile across her face, Farah hugged her parents, her husband, and those who'd spoken to the board in support of her.

"Thanks for speaking the truth," she later tweeted.

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