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Advocates, Woman Arrested at Meeting Say Public Confidence Eroded in HISD

Even though the HISD board president has apologized, Kandice Webber still wants Skillern-Jones to step down.

About 100 people were removed from the HISD auditorium after a scuffle with police officers and a protest ensued. The heated meeting was meant to consider a charter partnership for 10 schools, but ended without a vote.
About 100 people were removed Tuesday, April 24, 2018 from the HISD auditorium after a scuffle with police officers and a protest ensued. The heated meeting was meant to consider a charter partnership for 10 schools, but ended without a vote.

When Kandice Webber rushed to last week’s Houston school board meeting, she wanted to advocate for students of color, like her granddaughter, who’s preparing to enter kindergarten.

Instead Webber ended up handcuffed and spent the night in the Harris County jail. 

“I was not resisting arrest. I don’t understand why they would have ever put their hands on me to try to arrest me. I want to go back to: I am a grandmother fighting for my grand-baby’s education,” said Webber, who is also a registered nurse and an organizer with Houston Black Lives Matter.

Webber was arrested soon after another advocate went over her 1-minute time limit by 14 seconds and following an outburst, the school board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones ordered the room clear. Webber said she refused to leave until white members of the audience also left. She was arrested along with another woman; a third woman, parent Jenny Espeseth, was detained but not arrested.

The charges against them were dropped. Even though the HISD board president has apologized, Webber still wants Skillern-Jones to step down.

Kandice Webber, who is a registered nurse and organizer with Houston Black Lives Matter, said that she was in shock when police officers arrested her at the April 24, 2018 HISD board meeting. Charges against her have been dropped.
Webber said that she was in shock when police officers arrested her at the April 24 HISD board meeting. Charges against her have been dropped.

“I have lost trust in the school board. I’ve lost trust in the school district. I’ve lost trust in our elected employees,” Webber said.

Other advocates, such as Houstonians for Great Public Schools, also have said that the way the meeting was handled has eroded public confidence in the board.

The fact that the number of chairs in the room was halved, the fact that the board president cleared the room is an indication of a larger problem of lack of transparency and I would even say a lack of courageous leadership,” Jasmine Jenkins, executive director with Houstonians for Great Public Schools, told News 88.7 last week.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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