Tweets from San Marcos school board committee member cause controversy

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A group of activists in San Marcos are voicing their displeasure with a recent appointee to the school district’s Student Health Advisory Council.

In particular, they’re upset over social media posts made by Naomi Narvaiz, who serves on the Student Health Advisory Council, as well as the city’s Ethics Commission in volunteer roles.

“(One post) said ‘All dreamers should be deported.’ And that is pretty alarming, because she now is on the school advisory council which also serves undocumented children,” said Karen Munoz, a member of Mono Amigo, a San Marcos group that represents the undocumented community.

Munoz is referring to a retweet on Narvaiz’s account from September.

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“We know that undocumented children right now already experience a lot of trauma. They go to school thinking they might not have a parent at home when they get back. So since there’s already trauma inherent in their situation, I don’t think (Narvaiz) really cares to create policy to help them deal with that trauma,” Munoz said.

Nicholas Laughlin, a member of the city’s Youth Commission, shared his concerns specifically over posts about the LGBTQ community.

“I just think they’re really toxic, and not great for the community. And just the one I’ve seen about the XYZ Club -- it’s really harmful,” Laughlin said, referring to a club that represents LGBTQ students at San Marcos High School.

Laughlin, a Texas State senior, said he did not feel Narvaiz could separate her personal beliefs from policy recommendations.  

“Students should be coming to campus, should be coming to school, and should be able to express themselves however they want, however they feel comfortable. They should be going to school feeling they’re supported by their peers, by their teachers,” Laughlin said.

A 2011 Twitter post from Narvaiz questioned the need for the club, tweeting: “XYZ club at San Marcos High School a group for homosexual kids! Is this what we send kids to school for?”

A 2014 Twitter post noted “Top Psychiatrist says #Transgenderism is a mental disorder,” and shared a link to an article.

On Friday, KVUE met with Narvaiz, and showed her print-outs of the posts that have upset some in the community.

“Absolutely, I remember most of these,” Narvaiz said, confirming the posts were from her account.

Narvaiz has lived in San Marcos since 2000, and said she’s served a term and a half with the city’s Ethics Commission, and was just approved to serve on SHAC.

“I’ve always been a committee service volunteer. I’ve never shied away since day one when I arrived in San Marcos, and there was a need at the school district. They were looking for volunteers to join the SHAC because there was a lack of interest. And these meetings are usually during the day. And so because I am a homemaker and full-time volunteer, I thought it was a good fit for me,” Narvaiz said.

She argued she’s been transparent about her views, and the negative response to her tweets are from those who "don’t know how social media works."

“I can tweet or retweet something and it’s just spreading news. Not necessarily an endorsement, not necessarily that I agree with it,” Narvaiz said.

She stated she’s never had any issue with fellow commission members, and respects other's freedom of speech.

“If San Marcos school district is going to open the door to an XYZ Club, then on the alternative we should have a bible club – we should have a club for Republicans,” said Narvaiz, who is active on social media.

She set up her account in March 2009, and has since tweeted or retweeted more than 68,000 times.

“If we’re going to scrutinize one person out of 23 (Student Health Advisory Council members), let’s sit down, and look at everybody else’s records the same way and see. I’m sure we would find things that we’d find unpleasant in every single person’s (account),” Narvaiz said, noting she believed that she was being attacked for her political views.

Earlier this month, Narvaiz shared a picture that originated from Patriot Front, a white nationalist group. The picture included the group’s website – bloodandsoil.org – which is a reference to a Nazi chant.

“I didn’t realize what I was retweeting. I’ll tell you what brought my attention to that – it was the map. I thought it was kind of silly, and I retweeted it. Simple as that. I am not of course siding with any white supremacist groups. Obviously, I’m Hispanic. My children are Hispanic. And I don’t agree with anybody being bullied or harassed or attacked,” explained Narvaiz, referring to a map of the U.S. in honor of Columbus Day with the slogan “Not Stolen, Conquered”.

School Board Trustee Miguel Arredondo said fellow board members were aware of many of these social media posts prior to approving her role on the Student Health Advisory Council.

“In August and then again in September, I kind of reiterated my concerns on some of the social media postings,” Arredondo said. He spoke with KVUE to share his views – not on behalf of the school board.

In a 4-2 vote, the board approved Narvaiz’s role within the Student Health Advisory Council. One member was not present for the vote, while Arredondo was one of the two to oppose.

“I think when your beliefs become attacks, then individuals become engaged and ask ‘Is this the best fit for the Student Health Advisory Council?'” questioned Arredondo.

The Student Health Advisory Council is made up of about 25 volunteers, and is aimed at promoting the physical, social and emotional well-being of students, staff and families.  

As the posts have garnered more attention over the past week, some in the community have called for Narvaiz’s position within the Student Health Advisory Council.

“It’s my understanding that the same authoritys that granted to us by the state to appoint, we hold that authority to remove at any time,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo and a fellow trustee plan on introducing an item during Monday’s board meeting to address Narvaiz’s role on the council.

Narvaiz said she’ll be at the meeting, and hopes to keep her position.

“If I were to step away, and just allow this to happen, then many in the community are not going to be willing to step up and volunteer out of fear this will happen to them,” Narvaiz said, adding she is open to meeting with people and further discussing her viewpoints.

Both supporters and opponents of Narvaiz’s presence within the Student Health Advisory Council are expected to attend Monday night’s hearing.

Neither commission Narvaiz serves on has legislative power, although they do help with recommending policy.

Spokespeople with both San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and the City of San Marcos said that Narvaiz serves in a non-paying, volunteer role, and they could not speak on her behalf.

Multiple attempts to reach other school board trustees and San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides were unsuccessful.