Several speakers came to the defense of embattled Comal Independent School District Trustees President David Drastata on Thursday night; several others who wanted to address a perceived racial problem throughout the district didn’t make the microphone.
Nearly a dozen were allowed three-minute speaking segments during the public commentary portion of Thursday’s meeting. Most backed Drastata, who as Canyon High School Athletic Club president used the phrase “China virus” to cite COVID-19 impacts in a letter last month.
Drastata has since apologized, but many on Thursday sought to address a Facebook gaffe by CISD teacher Lance Jonas, which criticized a Herald-Zeitung story and Drastata’s detractors, saying “Get off his back … if you don’t like it then go back where you came from.”
Chris Parma, who said he viewed the meeting on the
Open Comal Schools Safely Facebook page, claimed only 10 people spoke, most of them “supportive of David Drastata, and apparently all, or almost all were white” adding it was a “back of the bus” moment for people of color in the district, “who literally do not have a seat, or a voice, at the table.”
Steve Stanford, Comal ISD’s executive director of communications and governmental relations, confirmed speakers received three minutes before the board. He provided an audio recording of the 30-minute session in which comments ranged from praise for the district’s COVID-19 response to urging more hiring of minority teachers and administrators and adding diversity training.
Though board members usually do not to address public commentary unless spoken on agenda items, Drastata responded to the host of speakers.
“I want to thank everybody who came out tonight to address their opinions on all sides,” he said. “As a school board and a district, that commentary helps us to get better and improve. It’s a hallmark of what we believe we stand for as a school district.
“The ultimate goal is transparency and we want to thank you all so much for coming out and being a part of the democratic process that exemplifies what we think will continue to help us grow and continue to work toward achieving our ultimate objective – to be the premier independent school district in the state of Texas.”
The board went on to discuss agenda items that included a report on the district’s COVID-19 response and updated protocols from Superintendent Andrew Kim, and Stanford’s update on a possible 2021 bond election. The district’s $397.7 million bond that was canceled in May could be reset for May 2021 if approved by trustees by Feb. 17 next year, he said.
Thursday’s meeting was postponed from the Aug. 27 monthly meeting. The September trustees meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Comal ISD Support Services Center Boardroom, 1404 Interstate 35 North in New Braunfels. For more, visit the district’s website, comalisd.org.