CYPRESS, Texas — As calls grow louder for Cy-Fair ISD board member Scott Henry to resign over comments about Black teachers and dropout rates, he claimed at tonight's board meeting that his words are being twisted.
Henry is being accused of equating the percentage of Black teachers in HISD with that district’s dropout rate. The controversial comments were made after he questioned the need for more Black teachers in Cy-Fair ISD following details of a district-wide equity audit.
"The statewide average for black teachers is 10%," Henry said during a work session earlier this week. "HISD, which we’ll use as a shining example, you know what their average number or percentage of Black teachers is? 36%, I looked it up. You know what their dropout rate is? 4%. I don’t want to be at 4%, I don’t want to be HISD.”
At tonight's board meeting, Henry said he's now getting death threats.
“I will take responsibility for not saying it more eloquently,” Henry said. “Any suggestion that I said more black teachers leads to worse student outcomes is a lie, and those spreading it should be ashamed of themselves.”
During public comments, a teacher said Henry's comments were personal for her.
"It was practically said that teachers that look like me are the reasons kids drop out of school, do you even know who I am? Have you set foot in my classroom?"
But Henry did have some supporters in the crowd.
"Mr. Henry I want to thank you for seeing the audit report for what it truly is, political propaganda."
Before the board meeting, community leaders joined the NAACP at a news conference to double down on their call for Henry's resignation.
"What we saw the other night was the racism said out loud," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "And if we allow this kind of thing in a public forum by a public official that represents a school district, what are we allowing?"
"We're calling for the resignation of Scott Henry from the Cy-Fair ISD board of education and calling for the board of education to take a vote to express unanimous, unanimous, unanimous disenchantment and disconnection from his statements,” said NAACP Houston Branch president Dr. James Dixon.
Cesar Espinosa with civil rights group FIEL Houston, has a son entering Cy-Fair ISD in the fall and he also believes Henry should resign immediately.
"Everybody has always said Cy-Fair ISD is a good district for a variety of reasons and this definitely does not reflect it being a good district," Espinosa said.
Longtime Chavez High School English teacher Coretta-Mallet Fontenot can easily define what she heard Cy-Fair ISD Trustee Scott Henry say during a meeting this week about Black Houston ISD teachers like her.
"I feel that is was very divisive, definitely," said Mallet-Fontenot. “I don’t think that the comments he made are truly indicative of the job that we, as educators, you know, try to demonstrate in front of our students every day."
Mallet-Fontenot told us she's afraid this controversy may temporarily overshadow all the good that is happening.
"You know, when we should be focused on giving our children the best education possible,” said Mallet-Fontenot.
CFISD Superintendent Dr. Mark Henry -- no relation to Scott Henry -- said the district "is more committed than ever to continue to recruit educators who reflect our district’s demographics."
In a statement Thursday, Henry said a diverse workforce helps all students succeed.
It is our goal for students to be inspired by this diverse group of leaders and teachers. Our commitment is to value and promote all deserving educators. CFISD has shown that a large diverse district can succeed in academics, athletics and fine arts when all employees, students and parents are valued."
HISD hasn't commented on the controversy.