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Fort Worth ISD Racial Equity Committee To Meet Privately After Becoming Target For Critics

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A racial equity committee established by Fort Worth ISD has closed its meetings to the public.

The district and the committee chair confirmed the decision Thursday, after residents noticed a district website no longer lists meetings dates and locations, including a meeting that was planned for March 3.

The district wrote in an emailed statement that because a quorum of board trustees would not be at the meeting, neither the state Open Meetings Act or board policy required anything to be posted or open to the public.

Four board trustees are on the committee, out of a total of eight on the full board.

The decision comes a week after a grievance hearing at a full board meeting when three parents and an attorney suggested the committee could violate state law over the discussion of race in schools.

That meeting was also not live-streamed to the public.

It follows months of increased scrutiny of school boards nationwide, with community members pressuring elected officials over COVID-19 rules and policies informed by critical race theory.

Board trustee Q Phillips, who is the committee chair, said those debates were necessary for the public and committee members to speak out over issues they are concerned about.

However, he said, it kept the committee from being able to do much of its intended work. Some committee members were apprehensive about event attending meetings due to the public pressure.

"That's why we're switching it," he said. "To make sure that the committee has the complete opportunity to be together, to really dive into those committees and opportunities and data points and everything to study around so we can have real recommendations for our district moving forward."

He did not see the decision as limiting transparency of the committee's work, because any recommendations to the school board would be considered and voted on in an open meeting.

Residents who have been attending meetings though and paying more attention to the committee, were skeptical of decision.

"It's not a game of hide and seek," said Lexi Lovett, who said she was interested in committee decisions about student decision and curriculum. "We've seen all over the country that transparency is important. Parents want to know what's going on in their kid's schools."

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