‘No place for ignorance’: Calls for removal of Cy-Fair ISD board member after comments made about Black teachers

A newly-elected Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District school board member has come under heavy scrutiny for making comments many felt were racist in nature.

On Monday, the board was reviewing a recently-released report commissioned by the district to evaluate equity and diversity among teachers and administrators. During that discussion, Scott Henry made a comment about the district’s percentage of Black teachers and the statewide average, leaving many to feel as if he was blaming Black teachers for low performance or drop-out rates among students.

“Do you know what the statewide average for Black teachers is? Ten percent. I looked it up. Houston ISD, which y’all used as a shining example, you know what their average number of percentages for Black teachers is? Thirty-six percent. I looked that up. You know what their drop-out rate is? Four percent. I don’t want to be four percent. I don’t want to be HISD. I want to be a shining example, I want to be the district standard. I want to be the premium place where people go to be,” Henry said. “And quite frankly, we have a limited budget, with limited resources and we have a great place, and let’s don’t mess it up for everyone else.”

[Click here to watch full video of board meeting. Henry’s remarks began around the 59:45 mark.]

His words sparked outrage from the community and elected officials.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a released statement that Henry should resign.

“As a product of Cy-Fair ISD, I’m appalled by Board Member Scott Henry’s insinuation that more Black teachers lead to more dropouts,” Hidalgo said. “Divisiveness and racism are what’s hurting our students. Not diversity. Resign.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also feels that Henry should step down.

“I was deeply saddened and offended to hear the comments made by @CyFairISD School District Board Member Scott Henry. His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately,” Turner tweeted. “Suggesting that having more Black teachers in a school district can create an increase in the dropout rate or a decline in classroom achievement is despicable. The rich diversity that resides in our city and region unites us more than ever. We should not tolerate those who seek to divide, but rather work with everyone to ensure equal opportunities of educational access for all.”

NAACP Houston Branch President Dr. James Dixon is calling for immediate action.

“The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School Board must vote to condemn his views. Voters and parents should unite to call for his resignation,” Dixon said.

WATCH: NAACP calls for action against Cy-Fair ISD board member due to race-related comments

Here's what we know:

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) called for Henry to issue an apology for his remarks.

“Mr. Henry chose to obfuscate the recommendations of a District-commissioned report,” said ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin. “Then he blamed an ‘out of state political organization,’ for his comments, claiming he was just defending the district against the organization’s ‘attack.’ Mr. Henry should apologize and work toward a better understanding of the value of diversity and its importance to the success of schools, businesses, and communities like the city of Houston.”

Nikki Cowart, president of the Cy-Fair American Federation of Teachers, isn’t buying his explanation.

Cowart released the following statement:

“Scott Henry’s statements at Monday’s School Board meeting are ignorant and appalling, and he should resign immediately. Henry falsely equated lower student performance with Black teachers—something unfounded and vile, but not unexpected since he ran his campaign for trustee on the notion that we shouldn’t ever be talking about racism in schools. And yet, he’s happy to exemplify racist opinions from the dais of a school board meeting.

“Scott Henry took his bumbling presentation even further with the detestable idea that Cy-Fair schools shouldn’t be like Houston ISD with a more reflective percentage of Black teachers, because he wants Cy-Fair to be the “premium place where people go.” Henry gave us another example proving individual school board member actions shouldn’t be how we judge the work of a district’s staff and students. We are also calling on other school board members to stand up against Scott Henry, not to let his bigoted comments go unchallenged.

“It’s time for Scott Henry to go—to prevent another embarrassing and hurtful display of ignorance, racism, and incompetence. It’s time for him to resign, because he clearly can’t help inspire a diverse population of our kids in Cy-Fair schools after his pathetic rant against providing opportunities for all students.”

The next board meeting is Thursday night.

About the Authors:

Mother of two. Award-winning lover of digital storytelling, sparked by my fascination of being a fashionable gossip like my favorite "Willona Woods" character from "Good Times." On the serious side, president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists and dedicated community servant. Happy to share the news with you each and every day!

Emmy-winning journalist, native Houstonian, reader, dancer, yogi.