Texas School Board Member Defends His Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic Facebook Posts, Refuses to Resign

A Texas school board member has refused to resign amid controversy over a series of racist posts made to his personal Facebook account.

Doyle Woodall, who sits on the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) Board of Trustees, shared a picture of a noose that urged people to "make America great again" by making "evil people fear punishment." He also proposed spilling "a few gallons of bacon grease" on areas where U.S. Muslims have gathered to pray, along with sharing an anti-abortion meme that used the phrase "Jews aren't actually people" to compare Jews killed during the holocaust to aborted fetuses, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Doyle Woodall
Doyle Woodall as pictured on the Ector County Independent School District website. Ector County Independent School District

Woodall is refusing to resign from the school board, a position he has held for over 11 years. A petition calling for Woodall's removal from the board was a few hundred signatures short of its goal of 5,000 as of Tuesday night. Regardless of the petition and public outcry over the posts, there may be little legal recourse to remove Woodall unless he commits a felony or is voted off, according to ECISD Attorney Mike Atkins.

"That's really all there is the law in connection with the school board. Members have a 1st Amendment right to express their opinions," Atkins told the Odessa American. "Popular opinion does not automatically lead to being removed from office. If people don't like it, then the remedy is at the ballot box at the end of the day."

Javier Ruiz, president of the Ector County chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, said that Woodall's "history of racist and intolerant Facebook posts" meant that he must resign in a statement released on Monday. He highlighted the post featuring the image of a noose as particularly offensive, calling it "a symbol that people of color loathe, and so should every fair-minded American."

Other posts shared by Woodall include a series of evidence-free conspiracy theories, such as the debunked claim that former President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim and a more recent conspiracy purporting that Bill Gates created the coronavirus in order to sell a vaccine at some later date.

Facebook
Doyle Woodall promised to remove objectionable posts he had made to his personal Facebook page in an apology issued Tuesday. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty

After initially defending his posts, Woodall issued an apology for his behavior on Tuesday. He insisted that being confronted during an interview with a Jewish reporter and a meeting with a black former Texas education official had made him a "better man," while still refusing to resign.

"Because of these experiences, I am a better man today than I was at this time last week," Woodall said. "Today, I understand why my posts were offensive. I will remove them from my page. I have a lot to learn about cultural differences and I will dedicate a great deal of time learning by attending cultural awareness and sensitivity training."

ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri and ECISD Board of Trustees President Dr. Donna Smith released a joint statement over the weekend condemning Woodall's posts but stopped short of demanding his resignation, recognizing "his right to express his opinions through his personal platforms."

"We have seen several of the posts made by Mr. Woodall and find them offensive and demeaning," they wrote. "They do not represent the views of Ector County ISD. We embrace and serve a diverse staff and student body as well as a diverse community."

On Wednesday, Smith told Newsweek that she had called Woodall and asked him to resign before his term ends in May 2021. She said she also hopes to propose a motion to censure Woodall at the the board's meeting next week, along with a resolution calling for him to resign.

"Neither of those actions can force him to resign, of course, but I'm hopeful that such action will demonstrate to the community that the rest of us on the board believe as strongly as they do that those sorts of sentiments are toxic, hateful and just deeply and profoundly wrong," Smith said.

Update 6/10, 4:29 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a statement from ECISD Board of Trustees President Dr. Donna Smith.