Bryan ISD, city, and new trustee address possible dual office holding issue

The Texas Association of School Boards is very clear: A person cannot serve as a school board trustee and on a city planning and zoning commission.
KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 9:02 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Thursday night the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees swore in its recently elected members. The only new face on the board this term is Leo Gonzalez II, who currently serves as the chairman of the City of Bryan Planning and Zoning commission.

The Texas Association of School Boards is very clear: A person cannot serve as a school board trustee and on a city planning and zoning commission.

Gonzalez told KBTX after the ceremony he has no intention of stepping down from planning and zoning, “If they give me a chance to do both, they’ll see that I can be an asset for the school district as well as the city, and I really, really, think I can help us work together.”

The TASB has a document titled Dual Office Holding Issues for School Board Trustees. In the document, a table is provided that clearly states a person who serves on the city planning and zoning commission may not be a school board trustee. However, the TASB does not have an enforcement mechanism.

The reasoning comes from an Office of the Attorney General opinion issued in 2016, surrounding a similar situation in Laredo.

The summary of the opinion states, “A court would likely conclude that a member of a board of trustees of the United Independent School District may not simultaneously serve as a member of the City of Laredo’s planning and zoning commission.”

Gonzalez is aware of the opinion and has reviewed it.

“There is no binding law, that is simply an opinion, and I will keep serving until I hear otherwise.”

The City of Bryan released a statement to KBTX, “Mr. Gonzalez must rely on his own understanding of state policy and take whatever action he deems appropriate with regard to his status on the Planning & Zoning Commission. This matter has not been brought before the City Council.”

Bryan ISD also released a statement prior to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony to KBTX, “The Bryan School Board is aware of the issues regarding board members holding dual offices. Mr. Gonzalez was most recently elected to the Bryan ISD School Board through the general election. It is the understanding of the Board that this does not have an impact on Mr. Gonzalez being sworn in as a school board member. The Board further understands that after Mr. Gonzalez is sworn in as a board member that this is a matter between Mr. Gonzalez, the City of Bryan, and the Planning and Zoning Commission.”

Gonzalez said if he continues to serve in both capacities he would recuse himself from any situation if a conflict of interest came up, like the recent back-and-forth around the new transportation facility.

Gonzalez also said if he was forced to choose between the two positions he would serve in his elected role on the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees.