Women recount being removed from raucous HISD meeting

HOUSTON – Two of the people who were removed from a heated meeting by the Houston Independent School District board on Tuesday night said they were just standing up for their children.

Officials said there were disruptions during the meeting about whether to hand over control of 10 under-performing schools to a charter school company. Police began clearing the room.

“There was nothing disruptive about it,” said Kandice Webber, one of the people dragged out of the meeting by police. “It was us standing up for our children.

"When I still refused to take steps to go, they grabbed my arms and started pulling me,” said Jenny Espeseth, another woman who was dragged from the meeting.

Police also arrested and jailed Webber and Ameleie Goedecke, but the charges against them were later dropped.

Webber said she is upset because she felt like she was unfairly treated when other people were confronting board members and not being arrested.

The school board announced Wednesday that they have dropped plans for the partnership.

A statement from HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones:

I fully support the right to protest by anyone. Yesterday, the Board had to deliberate the educational trajectory of 6,000 students and the fate of 10 schools - one of the most important decisions in HISD history. This requires and deserves to be done in an environment where everyone can be heard and respected. 

We ask that a few simple rules be followed to allow us to focus on making these decisions. After repeated outbursts, interruptions and refusals to leave the podium, I asked our officers to clear the room for a recess. I hoped we could calm the tension and return for an orderly meeting. Unfortunately, the situation escalated and subsequently caused many unintended consequences. 

I'm saddened at this outcome as it was not at all what I wanted. I take responsibility for calling this recess and am regretful it only created more discord. The one positive result from the chaos is that we did postpone a hasty decision, gained some additional perspective and broadened our considerations. I thank the people who have called me on the carpet and am humble enough to accept their criticism as well as thank those who have called and texted their support and understanding. I appreciate both. In addition, I have confirmed the charges against the 2 ladies taken into custody have been retracted and they are being released.

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