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Back-and-forth battle between Southlake parents continues amidst civil rights investigation

As the Department of Education’s civil rights investigation into Carroll ISD in Southlake continues, passionate parents on both sides of the issue are speaking out.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — As the Department of Education’s civil rights investigation into Carroll ISD continues, passionate parents on both sides of the issue are speaking out.

“(Southlake) is a remarkable place,” Southlake Families Political Action Committee founder Tim O’Hare said. “It is getting some incredible bad press. And if you actually live here and experience it, people here aren't judging people based on their color.”

“This is going to get worse. These guys are willing to do and say anything, but what can we do except stand up for the minority kids (and) the special needs kids in our town and insist that the issues that are being revealed get addressed?” Carroll ISD dad Bjorn Bennett said.

On Wednesday, the Department of Education’s Office for Civils Rights told WFAA it has opened three separate investigations into the district "related to discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or sex."

But Carroll ISD’s headlines started years ago, after two separate videos of students chanting a racial slur went viral.

Parents and leaders then created a diversity and inclusion plan called the Cultural Competency Action Plan or CCAP, which is now stalled by a lawsuit. The last three elected board members ran on a platform of stopping that plan.

“Nobody wants any child to feel uncomfortable in school or to not be able to do their very best. But the answer to that problem, wherever it lies, is not the Cultural Competence Action Plan. It is not critical race theory,” O’Hare, who’s running for Tarrant County Judge, said.

On Friday, the Southlake Families PAC sent out an email, saying its attorneys are submitting multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the federal government. Their requests include “any communications from local citizens to the DOJ,” including citizens Bennett and his wife, who are mentioned by name in the email. 

“This is not new here in town,” Bennett said. “This is the way that this has gone for the last couple of years as the Diversity Council started doing its work.”

A Carroll ISD spokesperson said Friday the district has not been contacted by the Department of Justice, or DOJ, which is referenced several times in the Southlake Families PAC email.

O’Hare told WFAA he did not write the email. He now serves as an advisor to the Southlake Families PAC.

“I didn't authorize the email, but if there are (URL) links (in it) to where these people have called out people…you know, what? I mean, you play with fire, you get burned,” O’Hare said.

The email also encourages donations.

“The fundraiser this morning is not surprising, but it is kind of a next step up in escalation,” Bennett said.

“We don't think the federal government should come in and try to tell us how to run our school district,” O’Hare said.

Legal experts have said it’s unknown how long the Department of Education’s investigation will take.

“If there's something systemically wrong with the administration, well, certainly, we would want to know that,” O’Hare said.

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