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AISD Board President Kendall Pace resigns after text message controversy

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by Andrew Weber, KUT

Kendall Pace, president of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, said this morning that she would resign from her position as president and as Place 9 trustee after controversial text messages she sent to another board trustee surfaced last week.

The Austin teachers’ union had called on Pace to resign over the texts, which included harsh language toward members of the education community and efforts by the district to close the achievement gap.

Here’s a breakdown of Kendall Pace’s controversial text messages.

“I realize my work is done here,” Pace said at Austin ISD’s headquarters today. “I decided I will press for change on the outside.”

Pace apologized for the crudeness of the messages, but defended her tenure on the board, saying she often asked “uncomfortable questions with an honest and open heart.”

Pace cited the board’s approval of its facilities master plan last year, district efforts to pass a multimillion-dollar bond to improve AISD properties and her efforts to change the names of district-owned properties that honored Confederate figures as successful efforts to increase student equity during her tenure.

Pace said her texts were borne out of frustration with “one-sided screamers” who disagreed with her assessments of the district. In the texts, she suggested the district could establish a charter school with the help of a state grant and “ignore the special interest groups and crazy ignorant community activists and poverty pimps.”

Pace said her tone reflected her frustration from the district’s “lack of urgency” to help low-income students and students of color do better academically. She said she hopes her language won’t be the focus of the public’s attention going forward.

“The headline should be: We are failing consistently our low-income students of color,” she said.

Trustee Edmund Gordon called Pace’s comments “unfortunate” but said Pace did champion academic achievement as president. He said the controversy surrounding her texts was a distraction from district efforts to address racial equity and academic performance.

“Unfortunately this whole brouhaha is a distraction that changes nothing of substance,” Gordon said. “The achievement disparities remain unchanged.”

Pace’s term was set to expire in November.

Update: The board voted Monday to replace Pace with Trustee Geronimo Rodriguez as president. He was previously the board’s vice president.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. KUT’s Claire McInerny contributed to this report. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT.

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