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Two men arrested days after controversial and rowdy Round Rock ISD meeting over masks

In video from Tuesday night, an argument can be heard between one of the men arrested and board members before a police officer made him leave the chamber.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — A small protest was held outside the Williamson County Jail Friday night after two people were arrested in connection with a Round Rock ISD board meeting earlier in the week.

The protesters said the arrests were unjust.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Round Rock ISD board members were set to discuss extending the district's mask rules. But attendance inside the meeting was capped. Board members said they were trying to maintain social distancing, but members of the public say they were unfairly kept out of a public meeting.

One of the people who was escorted out was Dustin Clark. In video from Tuesday night, an argument can be heard between him and board members before a police officer made him leave the chamber.

"Mr. Clark, you have to leave. You have to leave. You have to leave, Mr. Clark. We cannot continue this," the school board member said.

"You're right, you can't continue to keep the public out of here," Clark can be heard saying.

"You have been warned, sir. You have a choice. You've been warned to be quiet or leave," the board member responds.

"You're not letting the public into an open meeting. Shame on you! Communists! Communists! Let the public in!" the man said.

Eventually, the board ended the meeting early and pushed the mask discussion to next week.

Clark is one of the people who was arrested Friday night. The other person arrested was Jeremy Story.

According to Williamson County Jail records, both of the men face misdemeanor charges of "hindering proceedings with disorderly conduct."

An attorney for both men was at the protest outside the jail last night. He said Story tried to get past a police officer to get into Tuesday's meeting, but was assaulted by an officer.

That attorney also claims the men were unfairly arrested days after the meeting. He said he has a message for Round Rock ISD officials: 

"This is round one. This is going to go a lot longer than they think. If Round Rock ISD thinks that we're just going to take it laying down, they're incorrect. And believe me, we're going to fight this all the way through."

The school board moved its next mask discussion to this coming Wednesday, Sept. 22.

As a result of Tuesday's meeting and disruptions, Board of Trustees President Amy Weir changed her opening message for all future meetings.

"Attendees and Board Members, state law, including the Texas Open Meetings Act, provide that a school district’s board meeting is a meeting of the governmental body to conduct the business of the district. While these meetings must be held in public, no individual may interfere with the conduct of the meeting. Therefore, please be advised that decorum and order WILL be maintained during the meeting. Anyone disrupting this meeting will be warned one time, upon the second event and/or disregard of the warning the Board will recess for 5 minutes to allow time for decorum and order to be restored. That may include enforcement of Texas Penal Code sections 38.13, 42.01, 42.02, and 42.05 and the Texas Education Code section 37.105 which permit law enforcement to remove individuals who continue to disrupt a public meeting after being warned to cease their disruption."

On Thursday, the Round Rock Independent School District was told it had to drop its mask mandate. A day later, on Friday, the Third Court of Appeals issued a hold on that order, meaning that Round Rock ISD can continue with its mask mandate for now.

When reached for comment on Saturday, the district provided two written statements, as well as a script read at the beginning of the meeting. Those are included below.

Statements:

"Round Rock ISD abides by the Open Meetings Act and did not violate the law in any way Tuesday evening. The law allows local governments to set reasonable capacity standards in meeting rooms. Current capacity is limited, with seats spaced six feet apart, due to the fact that we are currently in the highest COVID-19 risk phases (Red Phase and Stage 5) in both Williamson and Travis Counties. The public had access to the meeting room until capacity limits were met and also to an overflow area where video and audio of the meeting were live-streamed. Community members had the opportunity to address the Board either in person or via Zoom. There was ample space in the overflow meeting room throughout the meeting. As always and in compliance with state law, the meeting was live-streamed on the Round Rock ISD website and recorded."

"The incidents are still being investigated. There were concerns over disruptive behavior that created a potentially threatening environment for students, staff and community members present and hindered official proceedings. Round Rock ISD coordinated with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, which was the arresting agency in this case."

Script:

"Attendees and Board Members, state law, including the Texas Open Meetings Act, provide that a school district’s board meeting is a meeting of the governmental body to conduct the business of the district. While these meetings must be held in public, no individual may interfere with the conduct of the meeting. Therefore, please be advised that decorum and order WILL be maintained during the meeting. Anyone disrupting this meeting will be warned one time, upon the second event and/or disregard of the warning the Board will recess for 5 minutes to allow time for decorum and order to be restored. That may include enforcement of Texas Penal Code sections 38.13, 42.01, 42.02, and 42.05 and the Texas Education Code section 37.105 which permit law enforcement to remove individuals who continue to disrupt a public meeting after being warned to cease their disruption."

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