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Edgewood Independent School District’s board unanimously voted to call for Trustee Dina Serrano’s resignation on Monday, about a week after she posted a photo of her husband in a noose on Facebook. Texas school boards do not have the power to remove a trustee but can issue a public censure.
Serrano told the Rivard Report via text that she is not resigning.
The post, which appeared last weekend, has since been removed but KSAT published a screenshot that showed Serrano’s husband in a noose and her two daughters holding the end of the rope with faces and names blurred.
“Happy Father’s Day babe! Look what you helped create,” Serrano wrote with a laughing emoji.
References to hangings and nooses often invoke racist connotations because of their connections to lynchings. From 1882 to 1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States, according to the NAACP, and 3,446 of those hanged were Black.
Board members approved a resolution condemning Serrano’s actions. They publicly censured her, encouraged her to resign, and removed her as board vice president giving the position to trustee Stella Camacho. Serrano did not speak during the meeting.
“The facts have been that donors of the Edgewood school district have stated that if Serrano does not resign, they will pull out,” Board President Martha Castilla said. “We have partners that are universities and other supporters of the work that we do with the children, the programs, [who] also indicated they will not remain. … It seems like no one is willing to accept anything other than a resignation. Those are the facts.”
At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, dozens of community members submitted comments admonishing Serrano’s post, which she has since apologized for on Twitter.
“My naivety in thinking this was an innocent, fun picture was interpreted as malicious, insensitive, and racist,” Serrano wrote. “I get it, being a Latina woman from the barrio, I understand how hurtful my actions were. I am sorry.”
Many of those submitting comments Monday said the apology did not feel genuine, demanding Serrano either resign or the board remove her from office.
School boards have little power to police themselves under Texas law. The strongest reprimand a board can give to a trustee in violation of internal policies is a public censure. Edgewood’s code of ethics for trustees does not touch on social media use.
Six North East ISD trustees dealt with the same limits last year when they censured now-former trustee Joseph Treviño. NEISD’s board publicly admonished him twice, the first time for attempting to get special treatment for elected office, and the second time for missing school board meetings, sharing confidential information discussed in closed session, and sharing a social media post that included a racial slur.
The board’s censures resulted in banning Treviño from attending campuses and district events through the end of his term in May 2022. Ultimately, Treviño resigned and Omar Leos replaced him.
A handful of public commenters defended Serrano and asked the board to give the trustee a second chance.
Serrano joined the board in May and was elected vice president the same night she was sworn in. Her addition to the board culminated Edgewood ISD’s transition from being governed by a state-appointed board of managers to being governed by a board of entirely elected trustees. Serrano was elected in November 2018, but because of TEA’s transition process, Serrano’s position effectively only existed on paper for almost two years.
The fallout after Serrano’s post is the first big challenge in Edgewood’s new era of elected governance without a substantial state presence. Former board president Roy Soto remains present in the district as Edgewood’s conservator. Soto did not speak during Monday’s meeting.