Mr Lee from Texas responds to Al Jazeera

School official responds to Gabriel Elizondo's blog post about not feeling welcome at a football game in town.


    Booker, Texas schools Superintendent Michael Lee has issued a response to my blog post about me not feeling welcome at the football game at his school on Friday night.

    In the spirit of always striving to show all sides of every story, and always in accordance with the Al Jazeera Code of Ethics, click here to see Mr. Lee’s response, posted on the Booker schools website.

    I have also copied and pasted the text of his response - with no editing or commentary from me - in the body of this blog post below.

    (If you're interested, click here to read Al Jazeera's Code of Ethics)

    (In the Twitterverse, thanks to @shortformblog and @WBStilwell for flagging up Mr Lee’s response)


    Response to Al Jazeera

    Dear Mr. Elizondo:  I finished reading your blog about you visiting our community at a recent football game.  I want to apologize to you if I came across as disrespectful. That certainly was not my intent and is definitely not how I want to represent my community. I do say this with all sincerity.

    With that said, I do want to make a few comments about this situation and your blog. I was dealing with several situations in the few minutes prior to the start of the football game, my conversation with you being one. The most important situation was the fact that two of our elementary children had not arrived at their home. I can assure you that two kids missing is very stressful for an administrator.

    Please allow me to respond to a few of your statements. I will write my responses in italics. “ 1.) He doesn’t introduce himself to me, that I recall.” I did introduce myself to you, as I do with all people I meet. 2.) But I am pretty sure he said: “I think it was damn rotten what they did.” You asked me a question about 9/11. I responded to your question. I did not use profanity in my response as indicated in the blog. I do not recall you writing any comments down and verifying them. 3.) He then hands me back my business card - a true sign of patronising disrespect. “I hate you so much and think so little of you I don’t even want your dirty business card.” Mr. Elizondo, how could one possibly get this response by me simply returning your business card? 4.) I am pretty sure he said, “I guess you can stay and watch the game if you want, if you wish.” I do not recall this statement. What I can tell you is this I do not start sentences with “I guess you can.” This sounds to me like I was inviting you to stay for the game. 

    Now let me close with the following comments. I tried finding you after our other situations were resolved and talk with you more. Had the situation with the two elementary students not occurred, I would have found you before you apparently left.

    No one saw you leave, even those working at the entrance.

    I would not have changed my mind about allowing you to just drop by and interview people and film our students. We did not have prior notice and we certainly did not have time to verify who you were. Also, I would have asked you not to do those things at a public event, on public property and at a public school function.

     If you had done these, then the FERPA rights for our students would very well have been violated, especially for the students whose parents have signed papers not allowing the pictures of their children on the web.

    I do regret however, that you did not return to talk to me more, or “confront” me as you stated in your blog. I think we would have enjoyed a nice conversation. 

    Booker is a community that has accepted diversity for decades, including many different faiths. I am sitting here listening to the music from our annual “Fiesta Night” that celebrates the unification of the many cultures that make up our community. 

    Michael Lee   




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