Texas is faced with the dilemma of more teachers accused of sexual misconduct with their students. This casts a dark shadow over the classroom as kids head back-to-school.
In North Texas, a high school band director and a third grade teacher were charged with teacher sexual misconduct. Downstate, a high school teacher refused a plea deal and an elementary school teacher arrested last year was sentenced to prison.
In the Melissa Independent School District (ISD), high school band director Michael Eugene Reddell, 38, was taken into custody on Tuesday on two felony counts of sexual assault and improper relationship between an educator and a student. His bond was set at $50,000.
The Dallas Morning News reported that a probable cause affidavit indicated Reddell began texting a 16-year-old female student eight or nine months ago. The relationship “progressed to touching this spring and summer.”
Reddell admitted to police that he did touch the student inappropriately and wrote a letter to the student “apologizing for the sexual assault,” the affidavit stated.
NBC-5 included more explicitly that Reddell admitted to touching a female 16-year old student’s bare genitals and breasts in the band office at Melissa High School. Melissa is a smaller community north of the Dallas suburb of McKinney.
The school district responded to the arrest on their website on Wednesday. They posted that Reddell resigned Tuesday evening for “personal reasons” prior to being taken to the Collin County Detention Center. Melissa ISD officials expressed concern for the safety of all students and announced assistant band director Sheena Meziere James took over the band director spot.
James sent home a letter to band families massaging the Reddell resignation, according to NBC-5. She wrote, in part: “I realize this comes as a shock for everyone but please let me be clear. Mr. Reddell loved this program and all of these students very much. I assure you that Mr. Reddell would never leave on a whim; he felt that it was in the best interests for himself and his family that he be home right now.”
Superintendent Keith Murphy said, “It is important to remember that Melissa ISD will always work to promote a wholesome and healthy environment for all students.”
Reddell’s school district bio says he is a 2005 University of Texas at Arlington graduate, who served as assistant band director at two schools in Mansfield ISD. He came to Melissa ISD as band director in 2010 where the band flourished, garnering more than 70 awards and recognitions including Texas UIL state marching contest appearances in 2011 and 2014 and seven Best in Class awards.
South of Dallas in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB) school district, former Bellaire Elementary third grade teacher Angel Omar Sales, 25, was arrested following a months-long investigation. He was accused of fondling up to five female students last school year.
“Essentially, Mr. Sales was in the classroom and was doing inappropriate touching – sexual in nature – to some of the students,” WFAA-8 reported that Hurst assistant police chief Richard Winstanley said. “Some of those occurred several times in the course of weeks.”
The district began the process of firing Sales, who was already put on leave. According to court documents, Sales denied the charges and wondered if the children made up the accusations because they were mad he didn’t let them watch a movie, WFAA-8 highlighted.
When asked if it could have been an accident, he said, “I don’t remember any of that.”
HEB ISD Superintendent Steven Chapman wrote a letter to families underscoring that while he “cannot comment on any of the specifics, but I want to assure you we have kept the safety and security of our students and our staff a number one priority.”
Chapman did not want this “news to somehow overshadow the beginning of a new school year” and pointed to the district’s long history of hiring “extremely qualified people.” He added: “situations like these are unacceptable.”
However, this is the second “situation” to rock the district in recent weeks. Breitbart Texas reported on Viridian Elementary School principal Oscar Figueroa, 46, who was picked up for allegedly soliciting under-aged boys for oral sex in movie theatres.
Meanwhile further down the state, former Corpus Christi ISD high school teacher Tanya Ramirez, accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student last year, was about to plead no contest in exchange for probation but changed her mind in court on Wednesday.
The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported Ramirez refused to agree to plead guilty and surrender her teaching license. The school district terminated Ramirez’s contract, although she is free on bail.
Last year, Ramirez, 30, turned herself into the Nueces County Jail after the male student involved in her case gave authorities a cellphone video recording which showed an identifying tattoo on a woman in a questionably compromising position.
The alleged victim’s mother, concerned the punishment did not fit the crime, told news media that she wanted Ramirez to register as a sex offender and be barred from teaching.
The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is reviewing Ramirez’s teaching certification. Texas Education Agency (TEA) spokeswoman Lauren Callahan explained that teachers who avoid convictions in these cases can theoretically keep their teacher certifications if any governmental body, including TEA’s investigations unit, SBEC’s legal team and a state administrative judge, seek settlements.
Last year, Breitbart Texas reported on Austin ISD kindergarten teacher Alfredo Andrade-Gaytan, 34, who was charged with assaulting a 6-year-old Reilly Elementary girl in summer school. Subsequently, he was arrested twice for other alleged incidences at another Austin ISD school where worked previously as a third grade bilingual teacher.
Andrade-Gaytan was accused of groping and grabbing young girls, pulling down their underwear and touching them behind his desk where other students could not see what was happening.
On August 4, the now former teacher admitted to sexually abusing three students aged 5, 6, and 8. Andrade-Gaytan plead guilty to indecency with a child by exposure, indecency with a child by contact, and continuous sexual abuse of young child, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Andrade-Gaytan was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
In past reports, Breitbart Texas sourced Terry Abbott, the former U.S. Department of Education chief-of-staff who heads up Houston-based research firm Drive West Communications. Abbott has called this wave of sexual deviance “epidemic” nationwide.
Abbott blames social media and secret electronic text messaging for the eruption of classroom sexual predators that has “created an open gateway for inappropriate behavior,” including developing “improper relationships with students out of sight of parents and principals.”
Yesterday, Abbott told WFAA-8 that nearly half of the cases in Texas last year “involved secret social media texting connections between teachers and students.”
Abbott says one big fix to this problem in Texas is to ban all forms of teacher-student private communication.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.