Cy-Fair ISD at a Crossroads: District’s Future in Voters’ Hands

Bryan James Henry
6 min readSep 24, 2023

Cy-Fair ISD, once a small, rural, majority-White school district, has grown into the third-largest suburban district in Texas. Like Harris County itself, Cy-Fair ISD is also majority-minority. Not unlike the political backlash to increased diversity nationwide, a small but loud faction of residents seems threatened by the changes in Cy-Fair and believe that politicizing the schools to promote their own religious and partisan agenda will “save” the district. It’s worth asking, as one of the fastest-growing suburbs and the largest A-rated school district in Texas, does Cy-Fair need to change directions and “turn back” or build on its success and “move forward”?

The partisan minority won three seats in the Cy-Fair ISD school board election in 2021 but are currently outnumbered by four trustees who believe in pluralism, diversity, and opportunity for all. Only one of those four trustees is running for re-election in 2023, and if the partisans win just a single seat, they will have a majority on the Cy-Fair Board of Trustees. So, what exactly is at stake in the 2023 school board election? In a word, everything.

School board trustees are non-partisan officials, and school board elections are supposed to be non-partisan affairs. However, back in 2021, the Conservative Republicans of Harris County, led by the extremist Steven Hotze, interfered in the election by endorsing a slate of candidates, and mailed highly divisive campaign literature to Cy-Fair residents on their behalf. The campaign literature stated: “We must take back the school boards that are controlled by the radical pro-Communist, anti-American leftists who are indoctrinating our children in Critical Race Theory and sexual perversion.” Who were those candidates?

Scott Henry, Lucas Scanlon, and Natalie Blasingame.

While campaigning in 2021, they claimed that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that people be “judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin” had been fully achieved, agreed with the idea that teachers and administrators should not have to “check their faith” at the door, and stated that educators “shouldn’t have to pander to agendas” by using a student’s preferred pronouns. One candidate said he would recommend “never wearing a mask” and called it “child abuse” to have a child wear a mask during the pandemic.

Thankfully, these three partisans have been outnumbered, but not for long if Cy-Fair residents don’t mobilize and unite behind non-partisan candidates who care more about kids and community than political agendas. Unfortunately, in 2023, the school board race has become tainted by partisan politics again. This time, multiple outsider political groups, including the Harris County Republican Party and Texans for Educational Freedom, have endorsed a slate of partisan candidates: Todd LeCompte, George Edwards, Jr., Justin Ray, and Christine Kalmbach.

These partisan candidates are united by an outdated “back to basics” agenda based on the lie that Cy-Fair students are being “indoctrinated” with a liberal or “woke” curriculum. How far removed from Cy-Fair schools and detached from reality must someone be to believe for one second that Cy-Fair teachers are indoctrinating their students? Their “back to basics” agenda will undermine the district’s educational progress and leave our students unprepared for the complexities of the 21st century economy. If the school board is taken over by partisan trustees with an agenda to root out non-existent indoctrination, then Cy-Fair students will suffer as district leadership focuses on the wrong issues. Our students deserve an exceptional educational experience, not a basic one.

If a new partisan majority chooses to copy the divisive policies of other districts like Katy ISD and Carroll ISD, then Cy-Fair will find itself in state and national news for all the wrong reasons. Cy-Fair residents are proud of Cy-Fair and its public schools. Do we really want to be known for banning books, arming classroom teachers, and creating learning environments hostile to LGBTQ+ students? Is that an effective strategy for recruiting and retaining the best teachers and administrators? Is that how we will prepare students to realize their career potential and embrace their civic obligations?

Residents of Cy-Fair, whether they are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, Christian or non-religious, should not want their school board trustees to reflect, reinforce, or represent a single political or religious worldview. Residents of Cy-Fair should want school board trustees who strive to represent every family in Cy-Fair and approach their position in a non-partisan manner. Fortunately, there are four excellent non-partisan candidates running for the right reasons: Tonia Jaeggi, Julie Hinaman, Leslie Martone, and Frances Ramirez Romero.

Known as the ALL4CFISD slate, they are endorsed by the non-partisan Cypress Families for Public Schools, the district’s two largest educator groups, Cy-Fair AFT and Cy-Fair TSTA, and many other local Cy-Fair ISD stakeholders. The community coalition supporting the ALL4CFISD candidates is diverse and bipartisan. The ALL4CFISD candidates have a track record of extensive service to Cy-Fair ISD and have demonstrated a deep knowledge of the issues facing the district’s students and schools.

Their priorities include: Student Achievement, meeting the diverse needs of students and advancing college and career readiness; Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Satisfaction, creating a Teacher Task Force to explore new policies; Parent Empowerment and Community Engagement, improving communication and encouraging volunteer service; School Safety and Student Well-being, fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment; and Financial Accountability, continuing the tradition of fiscal responsibility that residents expect.

We need trustees we can trust with our children’s education. We can trust Tonia Jaeggi for Position 1, who has volunteered thousands of hours across Cy-Fair ISD, on every type of campus, and knows this district well. We can trust Julie Hinaman for Position 2, whose experience, resilience, and wisdom has made her a beloved trustee across the district. We can trust Leslie Martone for Position 3, who knows how to work with every member of the community for the benefit of the entire community. We can trust Frances Ramirez Romero for Position 4, who understands what it means to have the community’s children in her hands as an educator.

The choice is between a partisan slate endorsed by outside groups focused on a political agenda and a non-partisan slate endorsed by local groups focused on Cy-Fair. It is an important choice. Thankfully, it’s an easy choice too. Let’s vote for individuals who have earned our trust. Let’s vote for candidates who have demonstrated they are running for the right reasons. Let’s vote for trustees who will keep politics out of the classroom. Let’s vote for those who are focused on the right things. Let’s show up, at the polls, for those who have already shown up countless times for Cy-Fair students and schools.

Lastly, let’s not ignore the historical nature of this election. Not only is the partisan fate, educational success, and reputation of Cy-Fair ISD on the line. Electing the ALL4CFISD candidates would give the Cy-Fair ISD Board of Trustees the first female majority in the district’s history. Women have been successfully leading classrooms and campuses for decades. Just imagine what they will achieve when they finally lead the school board too.