AISD Cops Take Union Head's Phone After Sex Ed Kerfuffle

Investigation stems from incident at contentious sex ed meeting

Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, addressing the Texas Hold 'Em Accountable Rally in 2013.
Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, addressing the Texas Hold 'Em Accountable Rally in 2013. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Austin ISD police are investigating an incident that occurred at the board of trustees meeting on Aug. 26, according to a district spokesperson. As the Chronicle reported last week, anti-LGBTQ groups rallied at the meeting to decry proposed changes to the district's sex education curriculum for grades 3-8; eventually, trans activist Naomi Wilson stood up and called out their dehumanizing rhetoric. While Wilson left the room voluntarily without incident, it appears someone on the other side could be looking to press charges against her. According to a Facebook post from anti-LGBTQ provocateurs MassResistance Texas, "LGBT activists are now emboldened to physically assault objectors who are simply stating the facts in board meetings." The post provided no evidence that such an assault occurred, but AISD police acknowledged in a statement they are investigating an "incident" at the meeting, without providing more details.

Education Austin president Ken Zarifis told us that AISD police approached him on Aug. 30, to obtain a video he recorded of Wilson's protest on his phone, which he refused to provide until the detectives obtained a warrant Friday evening. According to Zarifis, though he offered to send investigators the video via email, they instead seized his phone, returning it about 48 hours later. AISD would not confirm what its officers were seeking with the warrant.

Wilson told us on Sept. 3 that she hired a lawyer but has not been contacted by AISD police or by Concerned Parents members. "I hired an attorney to be proactive in my defense," Wilson told us. "But I was surprised when I learned of [the allegation], because the night of the incident, [AISD Superintend­ent] Paul Cruz appeared to be on my side. He invited me back to the meeting and said he wanted to meet with me in the future, so it's all really surprising."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Independent School District, Austin ISD police, AISD Board of Trustees, Naomi Wilson, MassResistance Texas, Education Austin, Ken Zarifis, Tamara Needles, Concerned Parents, Paul Cruz

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