HOUSTON — Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson has filed a lawsuit against the college, claiming the board and the college violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and violated his civil rights as well.
The suit stems from a series of actions the board have taken against Wilson, including the trustees censuring Wilson last month in a 5-2 vote.
Wilson has been highly — and very publicly — critical of board actions, leading to many clashes between Wilson and his fellow trustees. He has spoken out on what he considers inappropriate spending by the college, for example.
He also has claimed a fellow trustee lives outside her district in violation of the law. District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office called that charge unfounded.
A key issue Wilson references in the suit includes him criticizing what he called an “illegal” board meeting where a fellow board member cast a vote over the phone in September in what appeared to be violation of board rules. Wilson filed a lawsuit over that.
In the wake of that suit, the trustees excluded Wilson from a closed session meeting where his suit was being discussed.
“Just because one disagrees, that does not give them the right to censure,” Wilson said. “HCC may censure me, but they cannot shut me up.”
HCC Board Chair Carolyn Evans-Shabazz declined comment.
“As this matter is the subject of ongoing litigation, I do not feel that it would be appropriate to comment on Trustee Wilson’s allegations at this time,” she said. “As the Board Chair, I remain committed to focusing on the forward progress of the institution and providing the best educational services available to our students.”
From the suit:
HCC now, under color of law, treats Trustee Wilson different than other Trustees similarly situated flowing from the exercise of his First Amendment Right of free speech, access to the court, and freedom of association. Wilson requests the Court determine his rights, and responsibilities under HCC’s Bylaws and determine whether he may be excluded from executive session to determine HCC’s policies for absentee voting.
By excluding Trustee Wilson from the executive session, Defendants prohibited Trustee Wilson from performing his duties to his electorate, to his oath of office, and to the HCC institution. Defendants deprived Trustee Wilson, the right of freedom of association, and deprived the people of District 2, their right to Representation.
HCC and the trustees should be enjoined from enforcing the resolution of censure, according to the suit.
Wilson is also asking for $10,000 in damages and mental anguish, as well as another $10,000 in punitive damages and for his reasonable and necessary attorney fees.
“When I win this case, this money will go to scholarships,” Wilson said.
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.