Comments Linking Black Teachers' Presence to Dropout Rates Bring Calls for Trustee Removal

A newly elected member of a Texas school board is facing a slew of resignation calls after making a comment that mentioned one district's school dropout numbers in relation to its above average percentage of Black teachers. Some have expressed outrage and confusion over Scott Henry's statements, while others have denounced them as racist, KPRC-TV reported.

On Monday, the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District's board was reviewing a newly released report on diversity and equity among teachers and administrators when Henry commented on the district's percentage of Black teachers compared with the Texas average.

Henry said that he had looked up the statewide average of Black teachers and found that it was 10 percent. He then said that the Houston Independent School District, which was "used as a shining example," had an average of 36 percent Black teachers and a 4 percent dropout rate.

"I don't want to be 4 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.

His comments left some feeling as though he was placing the blame for the district's dropout percentage on the Black teachers. Since Monday, several elected officials, community members and organization leaders have called for his resignation or removal from the school board.

Board Member Faces Resignation Calls
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is calling for the resignation of a newly elected member of a Texas school board who made comments that mentioned one district’s school dropout numbers in relation to its above average percentage of Black teachers. Above, Turner speaks during the George Floyd Commemorative Concert at The Fountain of Praise Church on May 30, 2021, in Houston. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

In a tweet, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that he was "deeply saddened and offended" by Henry's comments.

"His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately," Turner wrote. "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."

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo echoed Turner's comments in her own statement.

"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."

Henry responded to the criticism in a statement on Wednesday. He said that the meaning of his words was being twisted by "political actors for their political purposes."

"Any suggestion that I said more Black teachers leads to worse student outcomes is a flat out lie and those spreading that lie should be ashamed of themselves. I am proud that our school district has placed an emphasis on hiring diverse teachers and that we exceed in doing so," part of his statement said.

He added that he won't let "disingenuous political attacks" discourage him from his goals as a trustee on the school board.

Newsweek has reached out to Henry for additional comment.