Cedar Hill ISD faces another sex abuse scandal

Dallas Examiner | 6/30/2013, 1:06 a.m.

A group called the Voices of Concerned Parents is outraged that – just shortly after hearing about one case in which a teacher has had sexual encounters with Cedar Hill middle students – a student has come forward to say that he has smoked marijuana and had sex with a CHISD science teacher.

On May 8, Marlena Mints, a Bessie Coleman Middle School teacher, was arrested on one count of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of improper relationship with a child.

After her arrest, a Cedar Hill Parents Community Town Hall Meeting was held on May 14. Representatives of CHISD told parents that child safety measures would be discussed at the next school board meeting.

The district’s next board of trustees meeting was held May 20 at 5:30 p.m. The board met with its attorney during a closed session, but there was no listing of discussion regarding child safety measures.

Furthermore, the agenda appears to list discussions of discipline toward a public officer or employee, on a weekly basis.

Now, with the recent assertion from a student about his relationship with a high school teacher, civil rights groups and parents are insisting on information regarding an action plan toward prevention of sexual crimes against minors in CHISD.

Min. Kyev Tatum, president of Texas Southern Christian Leadership Conference, made allegations of a cover-up in regard to the superintendent’s office and insists on a federal investigation. Tatum also wants CHISD Superintendent Horace Williams replaced.

“He lied to us at the Safety Town Hall and it is time for him to resign,” Tatum demanded.

Piecing the details of both allegations, investigations and arrests may be confusing since the dates are so close together. But what may be more confusing is why the district’s board did not call for the termination of Mints until a called meeting on June 3 – almost a month after her arrest.

On the same agenda, the board called for the termination of Marquita Waites, as well – who, according to school officials, knew of the alleged misconduct by Mints and did not report it within 48 hours. This put her in noncompliance with the Texas Family Code. Moreover, failure to comply with the state code put her in noncompliance with the Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators.

Both terminations were approved by a unanimous vote. The two had 15 days from the date they were served with a written notice to file for a hearing, if they chose to fight the termination.

It was at a regularly scheduled meeting on June 10 – five board meetings later – that the board began discussions about safety and security as a follow-up of the town hall meeting.

On June 14, Williams sent a letter to parents stating that he just “learned that the City of Grand Prairie Police Department arrested former CHISD teacher Shannon Parks in her Grand Prairie home Thursday on a single charge of an improper relationship with a student.”

He expressed his disappointment in her behavior. He then explained that Parks passed the background check prior to employment, and had only been employed with the district for three months, until her resignation on May 7.