Reeves family, Southeast Texans still seek answers following principals' suicide

KIRBYVILLE - The combination of a small town, a beloved principal, an alleged affair and a suicide has left more questions than answers since Kirbyville High School's former principal, Dennis Reeves, took his own life in the school's parking lot.

As new information about the case comes to light new characters and circumstances are introduced that read as if they were taken from the pages of a novel.

Reeves' death has shaken the tight knit community and the attorney acting on behalf of the Reeves family says they want one question answered.

"This lady lost her husband; these kids lost their daddy. All they want to know is why," says Reeves family attorney Chip Ferguson.

The story has generated interest all over Southeast Texas as hundreds of people comment on stories about it on social media many wanting to know the same thing.

At least one person on social media wondered how Reeves could be fired if the affair was with another adult. 

12News spoke with local human resources attorney Terrence Allison, of the Allison law firm, to find out if the ultimatum Reeves was presented with was legal and if policy was followed leading up to Reeves's death.

"The school district has the right to promulgate and enforce any rule that it want regarding workplace romances," said Allison, who is not associated with the Reeves case.

The Kirbyville CISD employee handbook is very clear that employees are not allowed to be romantically involved with students in any capacity.
 
However there is no language that bans employees from dating one another or their superiors.

With 57 percent of Americans saying they've been involved in a workplace relationship things can get complicated.

Because districts have the right to outline these policies they should leave no room for interpretation according to Allison.

"If a school district doesn't want it's employees to do certain things, they should spell them out and make the rules clear," said Allison.

Employees who date one another shouldn't raise a red flag according to the Texas Workforce Commission. 

A supervisor should not engage in a relationship with a subordinate if the relationship leads to special treatment, damages the reputation of the company or creates a hostile work environment the TWC says.

Kirbyville CISD officials say Reeves did just that with attorneys for the district claiming he was at the center of two harassment allegations.

One was from a teacher who says Reeves sent her hundreds of unwanted text messages.

The other was from the secretary who says she was being harassed by Reeves and his wife after the principal revealed to her that the two were having an affair. 

Some also wanted to know if Kirbyville CISD officials should be held responsible for Reeves' death.

Both Kirbyville CISD superintendent Dr. Tommy Wallis and assistant superintendent Georgia Sayers admit hearing Reeves say he "was not good" and that they knew he had a license to carry a gun according to a police report.

"I think Wallis and Sayers should be charged criminally for deliberate indifference-- knowing he was suicidal and failing to act as a public official," Joe Poponio said in a social media post.

Sayers has said "I'm not good" was a code that she and Reeves shared throughout the years that meant he had committed an error and needed help from her.

Code or not the community needs to know why officials did not immediately call authorities after hearing Reeves' comments says Reeves family attorney Chip Ferguson.

"Dr. Wallis doesn't call 911, he calls the school board president. The school board president doesn't call 911--instead he calls his daddy who happens to be the mayor. The mayor doesn't call 911---but at least he calls the chief of police who is able to get some response out there," said Ferguson.

The Kirbyville CISD board policy manual does not outline what chain of command emergency situations should follow.

Allison says that may not matter.

"They are trained on the how, the when and the where to do these types of things like terminating someone. If protocol was not followed, then you're going to face legal challenges," Allison said

Ferguson hopes his investigation uncovers what protocol that is. 

Ferguson says had it not been for an emergency restraining order that banned the district from destroying documents related to Reeves' death valuable information may have been lost.

"Kirbyville High School had ordered up a shredding company to shred a bunch of documents. They were specifically requested to be the number one stop on that route," Ferguson said.

Attorney's for the district say there is no evidence that supports the claim that anyone would destroy or tamper with records.

Ferguson says at the end of the day the Reeves family will rely on the facts of the case as the author of this story.

"My job is to turn over every rock I can and see what snakes are under it," Ferguson said.

He says an investigation of this magnitude can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the cooperation of the school district.

District officials say they plan to fully cooperate.

 

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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