R.C. Simmons, a candidate for the Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees Position 3 seat, dropped out of the election Feb. 19, citing harassment of his children and a racist email. As a …
R.C. Simmons, a candidate for the Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees Position 3 seat, dropped out of the election Feb. 19, citing harassment of his children and a racist email. As a result, the current office holder, Ashley Vann, will be re-elected to the position by default with no other competitors in the race.
“With that, to protect my children – and my sanity – I am withdrawing from the race and will continue to my fight for the students in our district through trades programs, apprenticeships, learning and enrichment programs, and much, much more,” Simmons said in a Feb. 19 Facebook post to his campaign’s page.
Simmons was not immediately available to respond to questions regarding the incident due to his grandmother’s death.
Simmons said in the post he received an e-mail sent from an untraceable account that mimicked a banner for Simmons’ social media campaign page, featuring a cartoon caricature of an African American and using the “N-word” (Simmons is black). Earlier the same day, Simmons said, his daughter was harassed by a member of a local Facebook group, A Better Legacy for Katy ISD #1065.
“Today my 17-year-old daughter was harassed on Katy ISD property by an adult in response to a false claim by the cronies that administer A Better Legacy for Katy ISD #1065, that I defrauded the United States Government,” Simmons said in another post to his campaign’s online page.
Simmons said the daughter was verbally harassed by the person on school property regarding the alleged government fraud. Simmons said he would be filing reports with appropriate authorities.
Jill Pruitt Allred, administrator for A Better Legacy for Katy ISD #1065, denied that she or any member of her online group had harassed Simmons’ daughter at school or otherwise.
“No one I know would attack someone's child, that’s not who we are,” Pruitt Allred said. “I spend my time advocating for children and finding missing and sex trafficked children, not attacking them because their parent wants to run for a volunteer school board position.”
Pruitt added that she hoped Simmons had filed a formal complaint and that too many instances of similar intimidation were happening in the community. She also said she will be meeting with Simmons to discuss the situation and find a resolution when Simmons returns from California, where he had gone to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
Posts on A Better Legacy #1065 imply that Sean Dolan, former Katy ISD Board of Trustees candidate and administrator of another Facebook page – A Better Legacy for Katy ISD – or one of his supporters may have sent the racist email to Simmons. However, Dolan denies the accusation and said he has offered his assistance in resolving the issue.
“Absolutely no, [I did not send the email],” Dolan said. “My response when R.C. [Simmons] sent me the email was to [offer] a $2,000 reward with any information regarding the source of the email.”
Dolan added that he has received similar, harassing emails due to his interactions with KISD, including running for the KISD Board of Trustees and being a figure associated with the controversial ending to former KISD Superintendent Lance Hindt’s tenure with the district.
Cortney Doyle, Allen Wortham Jr. and Brandy Snyder have all also dropped out of their respective school board position races. Doyle is the incumbent for the KISD Board of Trustees position four.
Wortham said he’d dropped out of the campaign because of harassment as well, citing messages on social media channels that badgered him regarding whether or not he knew Dolan. Wortham said he did not know Dolan and only met him at a meet and greet with Governor Gregg Abbott after he’d withdrawn from the race.
Doyle and Snyder did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication of this article.
Vann offered her apologies to Simmons on behalf of the KISD community in a social media post.
“Although I have yet to have the opportunity to personally meet Mr. Simmons, I wish him well and extend my apologies for the treatment he and his family received from some in our community,” Vann said via Facebook.
KISD released a brief comment regarding Simmons’ withdrawal from the race:
“The concerns that Mr. Simmons has reported are unacceptable, and as a school district we do not condone the type of behavior described. The District is working closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate the incidents cited by Mr. Simmons. Likewise, Katy ISD is urging anyone with information regarding the matter to contact the Katy ISD Police Department at 281-237-4000.”