By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
This month Clayton was reassigned to a teaching position at Smith Middle School.
Clayton and Ward aren't the only ones with questionable pasts. Last year, The Beaumont Examiner, a weekly paper, took the district's list of approved substitute teachers and cross-referenced it with public criminal records.
"The results included eight instances of DWI, six drug-related charges, five instances of theft or robbery, two instances of carrying an unlawful weapon, one for evading arrest, one for resisting arrest, one assault and one sexual assault," according to an article written by reporter Jerry Jordan.
Among those on the list of approved subs were Michael Lineal McClain, who in 2004 was sentenced to eight years in prison for the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Orange, causing the girl to suffer vaginal and rectal penetration, bruising and tearing, according to court records; James William Jubert, who had multiple convictions for drug possession and who, according to a police report, kicked in his sister's door and threatened to kill her with a steak knife in 2002; and Alton Joseph Jones, who had a felony criminal record that involved a shooting at a high school basketball game in 1989.
When the Press sent Beaumont ISD a request under the Texas Public Information Act, we learned the district's sole method of doing background checks on its employees is the Texas DPS criminal history database. This database relies on self-reporting by counties and is rife with errors and omissions. (See "Bad Checks," by Keith Plocek, Houston Press, July 6.) If a district doesn't supplement the DPS system with another means of screening employees, it's not tough for bad people to slip through the cracks.
But a proper background check will only tell a district about folks with criminal histories.
In 2002 Ozen band director Ferguson Parker was charged with sexual assault of a child and indecent exposure. He was placed on administrative leave but was eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing, reinstated and given back pay by the district.
"It was a bench trial and one of our district judges decided there wasn't enough there to convince him," says Shettle. "And then [Parker] went and [allegedly] did the same thing. He was empowered. So we have another case. And the momma of the little girl is our star witness."
The mother allegedly found Parker in her daughter's closet wearing only his basketball shorts and socks. "She sensed that something was out of the ordinary so she walked into her daughter's room," according to court records. "As she was looking for a piece of luggage in her daughter's closet, she saw movement out of the corner of her eye towards the floor. [She] stated that she then looked down and observed a male, who had rolled himself up into a little ball and was trying to hide."
The alleged affair reportedly started in 2003, when the girl was only 15 years old. Over the next two years, Parker and the girl called each other at least 475 times, according to court records. Parker got married to another woman halfway through the affair, but he allegedly assured the girl he wanted their relationship to continue.
That case is scheduled for trial sometime early next year.
"I'm really ashamed," says Shettle, "that we've got all these problems over at the high school."
Tommy Granger and Byron Bell were arrested this August, five years after the alleged incident with Libby Rose in the Ozen field house. Granger was charged with indecency with a child and Bell with sexual assault. They are now both out on bond.
Libby Rose is suing Granger and Beaumont ISD in civil court for sexual assault and negligence, among other things. Fed up with feeling ignored by the district, the Rose family hired Pearland-based attorney Peggy Bittick, who sent the district a letter in October demanding a settlement of $1.25 million. "BISD did not appropriately respond to specific complaints about [Libby Rose]," the letter stated. "BISD was tacitly and deliberately indifferent to the sexually charged and sexually hostile environment pervasive at Ozen High School between employees and students and between students and former/current students."
The district balked; Bittick filed suit last month.
Neither Granger nor Bell could be reached for comment. Attempts to find them at the addresses listed on their driver's licenses were unsuccessful; in each case, our reporter was told the individual in question didn't live there. Bell's lawyer did not return our repeated calls. Granger's lawyer spoke briefly with the Press.
"Bottom line right now: Mr. Granger has denied each and every allegation or charges that are against him, and we're going to fight it," says attorney Byron Keith Watson. "And we feel that when a person gets up in front of a newspaper or on TV and makes all these statements, it kind of prejudices some people, but most people -- at least the ones I'm going to make sure get on this jury -- are going to have to understand that there's no presumption of guilt in America."
Jefferson County records show this isn't the first time Granger has seen legal trouble. He's been slapped with successful paternity suits by two women, the first in 1991 and the second in 1999. If you do the math on the first case, Granger's son was conceived when dad was 26 and mom was barely 18.