Anti-diversity plan school board member elect is NBCU advertising exec

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The candidate who won a spot on a Texas school board in the midst of a debate over a proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan is a regional advertising executive with NBC’s owned stations division.

Andrew Yeager won Nov. 2, 2021’s election against Stephanie Williams and was backed by a PAC created by local GOP leaders who poured money into local school board elections for candidates it saw as aligned with its views.

Southlake Families PAC describes itself as “unapologetically rooted in Judeo-Christian values” and opposed the action plan proposed for the Carroll Independent School District in the wealthy Dallas suburb of Southlake. Two other candidates aligned with the group have won seats on the board in recent years.

The plan proposed changes in cultural and diversity training and curriculum within the schools and quickly gained national attention over the controversy it generated along with a larger national conversation about how race, sexuality and other topics are taught in public schools.

With Yeager winning over Williams, a former teacher, by a landslide, the board will likely be able to block any efforts to initiate the action plan thanks to a soon-to-be 4-3 majority of candidates backed by those opposed to the diversity initiatives.

Most school board members hold full time jobs outside of their duties to the districts since the positions are almost always unpaid and with Yeager being on the advertising sales side of NBCUniversal, he’s likely not in violation of any company policy.

NBC owns KXAS and Telemundo station KXTX in the Dallas market.

NBCU, like most media companies, have rules in place prohibiting those on the editorial side of the business from running for or holding public office while on company payroll.

However, such rules aren’t as strict for those in ad sales, like Yeager.

That said, Yeager is being put in a bit of an awkward position. NBCUniversal, through NBC News, produced a podcast entitled “Southlake” that looks back at the years-long battle about the proposal. The network has been heavily promoting the series.

Yeager may also have to be careful about public comments he makes about race, however, because NBCU, like any company, could still consider reprimanding or terminating him if they deem his actions or comments to be offensive and ultimately reflect poorly on the company.

NBC News and its local stations have been sensitive to the issue and include disclaimers about Yeager’s connections to the company in most reports.

School boards have become hotbeds for controversy as over issues ranging from race and diversity to how LGBTQ+ and sexuality are taught as well as remote learning, mask and vaccine requirements and mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many districts have seen an uptick in interest for serving on school boards after years of often having trouble finding enough candidates to run. Now, candidates are seemingly more interested in getting elected if only to help block or pass policies that they approve of.

However, with these candidates typically focused on a narrow range of hot button issues, there are concerns about how effective they will be able to lead districts, especially when it comes to issues outside of what they ran on.