Kirbyville CISD: Principal who committed suicide resigned amid harassment allegations

Kirbyville CISD: Principal who committed suicide resigned amid harassment allegations

Kirbyville, TX (KTRE) - In response to allegations from the community, Kirbyville CISD's attorneys filed a court brief with the 137th Judicial District Court in Jefferson County Tuesday morning that provided background information and context for the May 23 suicide of former principal Dennis Reeves.

After Reeves tendered his resignation on May 23, Reeves walked out to his pickup in the parking lot, and apparently shot and killed himself, according to police.

"This is a tragedy for the entire Kirbyville community," said Kirbyville CISD Superintendent Tommy Wallis. "The district's counsel is working hard to provide a full, open, and transparent resolution to this difficult situation. Our district administration is focused on supporting our students and employee and helping this community heal."

According to the press release, attorneys for the Kirbyville Consolidated Independent School District asled the court to dissolve a temporary restraining order that "potentially allows outside plaintiff attorneys broad and virtually unlimited access to the personal, work, and official records of school employees and trustees without cause."

Later Tuesday, the court limited the scope of the temporary restraining order placed on Kirbyville CISD.

A second press release stated that the plaintiff attorney retained by the Reese family was seeking "broad and overreaching authority" to access personal and work records of multiple district employees and trustees without cause. However, the judge noted that Kirbyville CISD routinely retains the types of records addressed by the restraining order and would continue to do so.

"As a result, the district was essentially told to continue cooperating in a responsible way, as it has been doing all along," the second press release stated.

Attorneys for the school district still believe that any restraining order is unnecessary "because the school district has zero interest in destroying records of Mr. Reeves' employment with the district or the circumstances surrounding his suicide," a press release stated. The release also stated that the judge addressed many of the district's procedural concerns in his final order.

"The brief provides background into allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior brought to Mr. Reeve's attention in the weeks preceding his suicide," a press release from Kirbyville CISD stated. "The school administration followed protocol in addressing the allegations. The district asserts that it has actively cooperated with law enforcement and requests by the Reeves family for information and has no intent to destroy any records concerning Mr. Reeves' employment or his suicide."

In addition, the district's attorneys are arguing that the Jefferson County court has no jurisdiction over the matter because the Reeves family has stated no case against the school district, its employees, and its trustees.

The press release outlined some of the background information that was included in the brief to the 137th Judicial District Court.
In the weeks before Reeves' suicide, he was the subject of two separate allegations of harassment in the workplace, the press release stated.
"One complaint by a female teacher alleged that Mr. Reeves sent her "hundreds" of text messages, and she wanted them to stop," the press release stated.

In another harassment complaint, Reeves' former secretary, whom he had admitted to having an extramarital affair with, said that he was sending her unwanted text messages and that his wife, Tammy Reeves, was also sending unwanted text messages and targeting her with vulgar and unwanted social media posts.

"In one, Mrs. Reeves posted, 'You are still alive only because I can't afford a hitman,'" the press release stated.

According to the press release, Wallis and the district's assistant superintendent confronted Reeves about the harassment allegations on May 23.

"Mr. Reeves was informed that the district would have to investigate the allegations against him, and he would be placed on administrative leave during that period," the press release stated. "Mr. Reeves was offered the opportunity to tender his resignation if he did not want an investigation to take place."

The press release stated that Reeves chose to turn in his resignation. He walked out of the building, went to his pickup, and shot himself, the press release stated.

"In order to protect the privacy of the Reeves family, Superintendent Wallis did not fully disclose the complexity of Mr. Reeves' employment and marital difficulties to the media in an interview immediately following the suicide."

After Reeves' suicide, his wife asked for his district-owned cell phone and a copy of his resignation letter, and both items were provided to her, the press release stated. She also asked for copies of the written statements by Reeves' former secretary that contained allegations of harassment.

In the brief, attorneys for Kirbyville CISD argued that "no proper evidence supports the suggestion that anyone with the district would destroy, alter, or tamper with the information, records, or equipment subject to the order," the press release stated. The attorneys also said that the restraining order was "improperly sought, improvidently granted, and should be dissolved."

"This could not be provided at that time because it contained personal information that the district was not at liberty to disclose without an Attorney General's opinion," the press release stated.

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