AUSTIN, Texas - State Senator Don Huffines is apologizing for a heated exchange with some Richardson ISD students and parents on Monday. But he's not quite apologizing for his comments.
The conversation turned ugly in Austin when school vouchers came up. A PTA mom caught Huffines’ comments on her cell phone. She says the heated exchange lasted 20 minutes long but was only able to capture the last two minutes.
Meredyth Childress was in Austin on Monday with a group of about 50 students and parents for Texas PTA Rally Day. Part of the experience was meeting their state legislators, including Senator Don Huffines.
At one point, the conversation turned to school vouchers. Parents were skeptical of using state money for private schools, which solicited a heated response from Huffines.
“That is selfish,” he said. “What are you scared of? What are you scared of? What are all of you scared of?”
“I could see where it was going,” Childress said. “And he was getting more and more on a rant.”
Childress, who is 1st Vice President of Richardson ISD's PTA, says opposing school vouchers is a legislative priority for the group.
Huffines is a staunch advocate of school choice.
The video also captured when a student questioned Huffines about whether the proposed $5,000 vouchers would even cover the cost of private schools.Huffines about whether the proposed $5,000 vouchers would even cover the cost of private schools.
“So you're saying, ‘Ok, since we aren't giving them enough money to pay for all of their education, screw 'em. They can't go to private school,’” Huffines told the student. “You want to give them full tuition. That is the most selfish thing I've ever heard.”
Huffines was asked about his harsh tone Tuesday in Austin during a different education event.
“My tone and approach yesterday were out of line,” he admitted. “And I'm sorry for engaging in a heated debate with that group. However, I will not apologize for defending a policy that will benefit students, parents and schools in the state of Texas.”
Huffines says he is passionate about the issue, calling the parents and constituents that day “PTA liberal activists." His office called the meeting an "ambush-style attack."
“If you are afraid of a bunch of kids asking hard questions — they asked questions that they had researched,” Childress said. “We didn't feed them information. We gave them the opportunity to be heard, and I think he heard them loud and clear and didn't like what they had to say.”