Delivering school supplies to Oak Lawn schools

Members of Rainbow LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah delivered school supplies to Oak Lawn schools this morning. After heavy cartons of paper and notebooks were loaded into pickups and unloaded at their destination, Councilman Adam Medrano arrived at Rusk Middle School on Inwood Road in time to help carry boxes of tissues.

In addition to Rusk, the group delivered supplies to Maple Lawn Elementary School on Inwood Road and Sam Houston School on Throckmorton Street. Staff at Maple Lawn said they need volunteers after school for clubs and to help children with their homework from 3:15 until 4:30 p.m.

Rainbow LULAC organized the school supply drive. President Alejandro Trevino said he’s looking for more groups to participate in next year’s school supply drive. Groups may either donate supplies or cash that will be used to buy supplies for area schools.

—  David Taffet

Fired DISD official played role in getting rid of gay investigator

Jeremy-Liebbe

Jeremy Liebbe

A DISD official who resigned after accusations of discrimination was at the center of a controversy last year that ended in a gay DISD police investigator leaving.

Carmen Darville, head of DISD human resources, resigned after the Dallas Morning News obtained instant messages in which she made fun of age, race and religion.

Jeremy Liebbe was an investigator for DISD until he was placed on leave last year for looking into charges that his boss, Tonya Sadler Grayson, lied on her job application. Darville defended Grayson and Liebbe eventually lost his job, even though Grayson had actually lied on her application about having served a year on probation.

—  David Taffet

Liebbe releases confidential report from DISD and responds to charges

Jeremy+Liebbe

Jeremy Liebbe

DISD investigator Jeremy Liebbe, who was fired earlier this month, has released a document from the district marked “confidential” that explains charges against him.

The school district investigated seven charges against Liebbe during his suspension from the district and responded to the allegations over the weekend. The charges range from attempting to disable the IT department’s access to the computer servers without IT’s knowledge to running a background check on his supervisor who failed to divulge information about her criminal background on her employment application.

DISD hired the firm of Vincent Lopez PC to investigate the matters. Carlos Lopez conducted the investigation, spoke to some district employees as well as Liebbe, and conducted a check of Liebbe’s emails on his district-issued laptop.

“Throughout the past eight weeks I fully cooperated with the district’s administration, attorney Carlos Lopez, and the district’s internal auditors,” Liebbe said. “I wish I could say they extended me the same courtesy.”

In his response, Liebbe discounts each of the charges.

As part of his job description, Liebbe’s responsibility was to “manage the implementation of the security of all investigative files and systems.”

The district claims Liebbe installed security camera in his department without informing personnel outside his department. Liebbe said the district installed two of the cameras and purchased the other four. When the other four were not installed, he and another investigator installed them. Both sides agree he let everyone in his department know the cameras were there.

Liebbe had another employee look up the criminal background of Tonya Grayson, his supervisor. He felt it was inappropriate to check her background himself, since he reported directly to her.

The other employee found her criminal background but wasn’t comfortable with having checked her background, so reported the incident to her superiors that same day.

The district questioned Liebbe’s checking the criminal background of new investigators coming into his department.

“State law requires criminal history background checks on all incoming employees of the district,” Bill Liebbe wrote in his answer to DISD.

Bill Liebbe is Jeremy’s father and has taken over as Jeremy’s lead attorney.

Another charge involves Liebbe encouraging and influencing other members of his team to file grievances over Grayson’s refusal to allow them to work over the July 4 holiday. Because one of his employees didn’t have enough seniority, her pay was docked for the holiday.

Liebbe said he encouraged an employee to speak with the payroll department to see what her options were.

The district wrote, “Liebbe very aggressively attempted to persuade some of the PSO employees to file a grievance against Grayson.”

None of the employees did file a grievance, “despite Liebbe’s encouragements.”

The sixth question involves Liebbe remotely accessing his district-issued laptop and deleting information from it while on administrative leave. Investigators claim they found software on the computer to remotely access the computer and during the investigation found his emails wiped out, user profile deleted and usage of his dropbox.

Liebbe claims he installed the software in case his computer was hacked or stolen because of sensitive and confidential information kept on the laptop.

“Copies of all of those documents remain on district servers,” Bill Liebbe wrote in the response.

A final complaint involves getting parental consent to record interviews during investigations involving student witnesses or complainants.

“An employee shall obtain written consent from a student’s parent or guardian and from his or her principal before the employee may make or authorize a videotape of a student or record or authorize the recording of a student’s voice,” the district wrote.

“The recording by PSO investigators of student interviews, without obtaining consent from the parent or guardian does not violate district board policy or the Texas Education Code,” Bill Liebbe wrote in response.

—  David Taffet

Gay DISD police officer fired after filing complaint

Jeremy+LiebbeDISD police investigator Jeremy Liebbe was fired by Mike Miles after Liebbe filed a complaint over improperly performed background checks, according to WFAA.

Liebbe was put on paid leave in July after opening an investigation into his supervisor. He was looking into claims she didn’t report having been on probation on her employment application.

Liebbe’s attorney, Peter Schulte, called DISD’s announcement “defamatory fiction.”

The termination letter said Liebbe “acted outside the scope” of his role as manager of the Professional Standards Office.

We’ll be looking into this story and reporting more on it this week. We have open records requests in on this story.

—  David Taffet

LGBT groups join forces for school supplies drive

imageRainbow LULAC has teamed up with Resource Center, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, DIVA, Texas Latino Gay Pride and Congregation Beth El Binah for a school supplies drive for DISD students at 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21 at Havana, 4006 Cedar Springs Road.

Dallas City Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston and Dallas County Schools Trustee Omar Narvaez will be on hand to collect the supplies. Crayons, 3-ring binders, back packs, 5-subject notebooks, pens, pencils and writing tablets are among the supplies needed.

Supplies can be dropped off that night at Havana or during the business day at Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis, Third Floor through Aug. 22.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Liebbe placed on leave for investigating boss

Jeremy+Liebbe

Jeremy Liebbe

Jeremy Liebbe, the gay D.I.S.D. administrator placed on leave last week, had been investigating his boss in the human resources department for lying about her criminal background on her job application, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Liebbe’s investigation began after learning Tonya Sadler Grayson, an executive director in the human resources department, served 12 months’ probation for misdemeanor charges when she was 19.

Grayson said it was a misunderstanding on her part. “When I read the questions on the application, I believed that my situation did not apply,” Grayson said in an email sent to DMN. “Upon notification, I fully disclosed the misdemeanor from when I was 19 years old to the district prior to my employment.”

The district’s human resources chief Carmen Darville defended Grayson in a email to the human resources staff on late Thursday, saying the issue was resolved. “Employees may disclose background information verbally or on their job application. When Tonya was made aware of the misdemeanor…she shared with me details of the incident.”

Peter Schulte, Liebbe’s lawyer, said his client had not been told why he was on leave. “I have asked repeatedly to be told what the allegations are,” Schulte said. “This causes me great concern with the integrity of the investigation.”

A source familiar with the investigation said a superior who often butted heads with Liebbe conducted the investigation without prior notice. The DMN added that private investigations are common in the district.

—  James Russell

Rich Sheridan is running against the Sodomites

SheridanIt’s always entertaining when Rich Sheridan runs for office. This time he’s running for DISD school board.

From his campaign literature, we understand Rich hates the Sodomites and Rich hates the Medranos.

Well, I knew we had Medranos in Dallas. One even represents me on the Dallas City Council. Another is running for Dallas County Treasurer. But I didn’t know we had Sodomites in Dallas.

Sdom is a small town in Israel on the Dead Sea that’s been there since Biblical times, and its residents are known as Sodomites. The town’s best known for being the fourth largest producer of potash in the world.

I don’t know why Rich hates those potash producers so much, but he seems to despise them with a vengeance.

Rich accuses incumbent Miguel Solis of being a “trojan horse for the Sodomites.”

Well, I don’t know if Solis has ever been to Israel, but he’s been endorsed by Stonewall Democrats and, as a DISD board member, toured Resource Center to find ways they can work together.

Solis has been in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, and they recently got engaged. As they say in Sodom, “Mazel tov.”

As for Rich, he’s breaking a campaign promise from his last election by running.

At a debate in the race for Dallas City Council District 13, one of the candidates was 18-year-old Jacob King. Rich promised he’d never run for office again if Jacob got more votes than he did. Indeed, Jacob got more votes than Rich.

So here’s the question. If you can’t keep the most basic campaign promise, Rich, why should we trust you on anything at all ever again?

—  David Taffet

Why isn’t DISD offering DP benefits? Because it can’t, spokesman says

The Dallas school district has often been at the forefront in Texas when it comes to LGBT equality.

In the mid-1990s, DISD was the first district in the state to pass a nondiscrimination policy that included sexual orientation. And as recently as 2010, DISD was the first in the state to enact a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that included both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

So, after it was widely reported earlier this week that Pflugerville ISD had become the first in the state to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, I reached out to spokesman Jon Dahlander to find out why DISD isn’t doing this. Dahlander explained that DISD can’t offer DP benefits because its health insurance is through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas’ ActiveCare program.

“Because TRS ActiveCare does not recognize same-sex couples, we cannot offer that benefit. They do recognize common law marriage for benefits, however,” Dahlander said.

“The Teacher Retirement System of Texas administers the TRS-ActiveCare benefits program for Dallas ISD.  TRS-ActiveCare covers an employee’s spouse, including a common law spouse,” Dahlander added. “The program does not cover domestic partners, therefore the district cannot offer that benefit. We’ve had TRS-ActiveCare for probably eight years or so now, as do many school districts in Texas, in large part to give employees access to lower rates because of the sheer numbers involved.”

—  John Wright

New DISD superintendent backed ENDA, opposed federal marriage amendment as Senate candidate

Mike Miles

The sole finalist to become the new superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District is a supporter of LGBT equality, according to positions he took during his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 2004.

Mike Miles, a former Army Ranger who currently serves as superintendent of a school district in Colorado Springs, Colo., was named the sole finalist for the DISD job on Monday. He is expected to be formally hired April 26 after a 21-day waiting period, and would begin work in July.

Last month, Resource Center Dallas sent a letter to DISD trustees urging them to keep LGBT issues in mind as they selected a new superintendent to replace Michael Hinojosa. In the last few years, DISD has enacted a fully LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy, and amended other policies to include transgender protections.

Information about Miles’ record on LGBT issues as a superintendent wasn’t immediately available. But in 2004, Miles ran for U.S. Senate as a Democrat in Colorado, losing in the primary to Ken Salazar, who eventually won the seat. According to excerpts taken from Miles’ campaign website in 2004, he supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which would ban anti-gay job bias — and opposed a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

—  John Wright

Resource Center calls on DISD to pick new leader versed in LGBT issues, do more for gay parents

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas is calling on DISD trustees to keep LGBT issues squarely in mind as they select a new superintendent. In a letter sent to all nine school board members today, RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox notes that the district recently adopted fully LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies. But Cox adds that while the district may be ahead of most in Texas when it comes to these things, “far too often, there is a gap between policy and practice.”

“Additionally, I encourage the district to do more to reach out to LGBT couples who have children,” Cox writes. “According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are roughly 6,700 LGB couples in Dallas County, and around one in four of them are raising children. The superintendent should lead district efforts to reach out to these LGBT families so that they are welcomed and included in DISD schools.”

As an exclamation point, Cox mentions this week’s settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district, suggesting that DISD is legally obligated to enforce the anti-bullying policy and support LGBT students.

Read Cox’s full letter after the jump.

—  John Wright