Pearland ISD board stands by superintendent whose son posted racist statements

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 12:22:19 AM. Following an hour-long closed door discussion, board members unanimously voted for a resolution backing Kelly, who has disavowed his son's comments.

Pearland ISD board members said Friday they continue to support Superintendent John Kelly after the discovery of racist and bigoted statements posted on social media by Kelly's adult son.

Following an hour-long closed-door discussion, board members unanimously adopted a resolution backing Kelly, who has disavowed his son's comments. Parents and community members this week circulated hateful Facebook posts by an individual matching the name of Kelly's son. The Facebook page has since been taken down.

"In light of current events, we the board support Dr. Kelly and have faith in him as superintendent of Pearland ISD," the resolution read. "Our diversity is our strength, and we look forward to continuing to offer world-class education that develops every child's unique gifts and talents."

In a letter to district staff obtained by the Chronicle, Kelly describes his family's anguish over the "awful things against various minorities and against God" that his 28-year-son has espoused on social media. Kelly said his son, the oldest of his seven children, has expressed the derogatory opinions over the past two years. He describes confronting his son "many times about this but he has refused to listen."

"My son's statements are devastating to me, my wife, his siblings, and others," Kelly wrote.

Kelly said he wrote the letter to staff "to express my continued respect and care for every person working and learning here in Pearland ISD."

"As I've told many people, it is the best place I've ever worked — and I'm very proud of the tremendous diversity and accomplishment of this community," Kelly wrote. "On behalf of my family, I apologize for my son's words."

Kelly has waded into conservative political waters in the past, ruffling feathers among some parents who felt his public positions were inappropriate. Last year, Kelly issued a statement decrying President Barack Obama's administrative guidance that school districts should permit students to use bathrooms that conformed to their gender identity, even if it didn't match the gender on their birth certificate. "What's next?" Kelly's statement said in part, "legalizing pedophilia and polygamy?"

However, Kelly's political views are shared by many mainstream Republicans, and none of his statements mirrored the hateful ideology voiced by his son.

Board members approved the resolution at a special meeting called "to deliberate the duties" of the superintendent and trustees. No other topics were on the agenda. Trustees did not speak at length or deliberate in public about Kelly. State law allowed them to meet during a closed session because the discussion involved personnel matters.

"We met, we came together and we have a 7-0 vote that we continue to support Dr. Kelly and his ability to perform his duty as superintendent," said the board's president, Rebecca Decker. "We're a very diverse district, and we want to ensure that all students get the right education. That's what we're supporting."

Kelly was not present at Friday's board meeting, and a district spokeswoman said he was not available for additional comment.

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