Nacogdoches ISD will focus on sexual harassment training for substitutes

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Three female students are expected to return to Nacogdoches High School in the fall following Tuesday's sentencing of former high school substitute Jamar Ballard.

The 29-year-old is starting a 15-year prison sentence for improper relationships with two of the students and for sexually assaulting a minor. When faculty, staff and students return to the classroom they may hear more discussion on proper choices concerning student-adult relationships.

NISD Human Resources Director Michael Martin said he had a heavy heart during the investigation of Jamar Ballard, a man he trusted with the youth of Nacogdoches.

"One of those things that you couldn't let go of," Martin said. "You go back look at the process, you look at the system."

Martin knows it's not a perfect system.

"You just can't have a blanket policy of if you have a criminal history we're not going to hire you," Martin said.

So the focus will be more policy training of substitutes.

"We will spend more time going over sexual harassment training and being more thorough and presenting scenarios." Martin said.

Students will receive instructions about a familiar outlet of communication.

"Every time you see a kid, they're holding a phone, usually doing this and they can barely pick their heads up," said Rayanne Schmid, a spokesperson for NISD.

"Talk about it" will be a place for students to e mail or text, anonymously if they choose, any concerns.

"They can report anything. It can be bullying," Schmid said. "It can be some sort of sexual harassment. It could be, you know, I saw who put the graffiti on the wall."

Ballard was turned in by his victims. His attorney said his client is well respected in his community. The now lifetime registered sex offender receives no respect from Martin.

"I don't respect him for the acts that he committed," Martin said. "He said he did them, and now we know that he's going to be punished."

Martin says more character checks will be conducted on applicants on a case-by-case basis. Most of the internal revisions will come through education.

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