The investigator who was fired earlier this month and wasn’t told why until late last week has responded with charges of his own
Fired Dallas Independent School District investigator Jeremy Liebbe said this week that none of the charges against him would have been leveled had he not discovered that his supervisor lied on her employment application by concealing a criminal past.
At the time of his suspension earlier this summer, Liebbe had heard of no complaints pending and when he was first put on administrative leave, school officials gave him no reason why.
This spring, Liebbe investigated coaches and staff from two school that had illegally recruited football players. Two students from outside the district were living together in a South Dallas apartment and attending different DISD schools. One of the students allegedly killed the other.
The coaches and staff involved in the recruiting incident were fired. Liebbe said his supervisor, Tonya Grayson, signed the termination letters and she would be a material witness in the former employees’ hearings.
Liebbe said he began looking into Grayson’s background because rumors about her were running rampant.
“That’s something attorneys need to know and deal with up front,” Liebbe said, adding that he had no problem with or grudge against Grayson.
“It’s something I’ve dealt with in the past with police officers,” he said. “It’s a routine part of the court process.”
While checking out her background, he discovered a list of several hundred DISD employees with background problems and began the process of looking into those as well.
After he was suspended, an attorney was hired to look into a number of charges against him. During the summer, Liebbe said he spoke to the attorney conducting the investigation, but he was never told what the charges were.
Among the seven allegations detailed in a report sent to Liebbe last week was a charge of recording students without parental permission.
“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.
Liebbe said there are clear exceptions. His investigations regarded child abuse by district employees. He said those cases were given top priority.
“Those investigations are conducted for the safety of the child,” Liebbe said.
He said he never heard an objection from a principal when he or one of his investigators showed up at a school to interview a child.
Liebbe said he or one of his investigators would go to a school and the principal and a counselor would arrange the interview with the student.
He said the principal is responsible for contacting the parent, but because the charge was child abuse, permission was not necessary under state law.
Liebbe said the rule about recording students relates to things like a teacher pulling out his cell phone and posting a video of an unruly class on Facebook.
Another charge against Liebbe involved his district-issued laptop. The claim is he remotely wiped the hard drive clean after leaving the district.
“My laptop had sensitive files on it because I worked 14 to 16 hours a day,” he said.
Because those files involved students, Liebbe said he also installed software that would clear his hard drive if the laptop was stolen or tampered with.
“When they locked my account, it triggered the software to delete files and email,” he said. “If my password was disabled, how could I have logged in to delete anything?”
He said all files and email remain on the district’s servers, so no correspondence or information was lost.
The district claimed in another charge that Liebbe was aggressively trying to get one of his investigators to file a complaint. The employee complaint had to do with docking pay of an employee for the week of July 4 because she didn’t have accrued vacation time yet.
Both sides seem to agree on the facts relating to the pay dispute, but the difference is in tone.
“I have an assertive personality,” Liebbe said. “Some people mistake assertiveness with aggressiveness.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 19, 2014.