School Board Candidate Meltdown Prompts Police Response

Liberty Elementary School
Liberty Elementary School | Image by Liberty Elementary - Keller ISD/Facebook

Adrienne Sullivan, a candidate for Keller ISD Board of Trustees Place 6, allegedly provoked a police response to an elementary school in the district, an investigation by The Dallas Express has revealed.

No party disputes there was an incident on February 8 at approximately 8 a.m. at Liberty Elementary School in Colleyville. Documents obtained by DX show a message was sent to Liberty Elementary parents around 11 a.m., some hours after the police had left the school premises with an individual who made a disturbance.

“Dear Liberty Elementary Families,” Janet Travis, the school principal, wrote. “We wanted to make you aware that we had a police presence on our campus this morning in response to an individual parent’s need. Due to confidentiality requirements, we cannot share specific details, but we can let you know that the officers were able to assist with the situation.”

“Please know that our campus is safe, and our students and staff were never in any danger,” she added, “We just wanted to be sure to share this information with you in case you or your student saw the police vehicles on our campus and were concerned.”

Parents told DX that this was a misleading understatement.

“The email was worded like the messages we get when there is a medical emergency,” Christine Edison, a mother of a child at the school, told DX. “That is what I thought happened until I started getting questions [from my child].”

After she came home from school, Edison’s child told her about a “shoeless” woman who had broken into the school, made a disturbance, and been forcibly removed by the police. Edison said she and other mothers tried to email Travis but realized they were getting “nearly identical responses –– like she was copying and pasting a form to each of us.”

Concerned about who disrupted her child’s school day and breached a secured area and why she was not being told more about a potential threat to her child’s safety, Edison went digging. She claimed she found out from witnesses that the intruder was Sullivan.

“Parents have a right to know about the actions [of adults in schools] … who we are supposed to entrust with our children’s safety,” she said. “[Travis’] email said it was supposed to help parents answer their child’s questions, but it did not give us the resources to answer those questions.”

Concurrent with Edison’s research, other mothers began to file public records requests, and DX launched an investigation of its own into the subject.

One mother, Kathy May, filed a public records request just weeks after the events of February 8, seeking all relevant Colleyville police material regarding the incident. May requested “body cam footage, the [official] incident reports, arrest reports, any photos or videos, and the 9-1-1 tapes of the incident.”

Another mother, Sara Jones-Allen, filed a narrower public records request in March with Colleyville police, asking for body camera footage from police and the school resource officer (SRO). She also filed a request with Keller ISD seeking CCTV footage of the episode and all relevant communications.

Yet, the Colleyville Police Department, Keller ISD, and the City of Colleyville raised a variety of legal objections and forwarded the mothers’ requests to the attorney general for permission to continue withholding the information.

Julie Dosher, the city’s attorney, wrote to the Office of the Attorney General that the information May requested should be withheld because releasing it would be an “invasion of privacy.” Dosher raised a variety of other legal objections, including some of unclear relevance.

One such objection included Dosher claiming that the city could withhold the disturbed parent’s license plate number. Given that the event occurred inside a school and vehicular information was not requested by May, it is unclear why the attorney raised this issue.

Jones-Allen’s request to the police department for bodycam footage was outrightly rejected. A response letter, also from Dosher, said Jones-Allen did not fill out the request form properly. However, she did not specify how it was improperly filled out.

Jones-Allen’s request to Keller ISD was met with a volley of legal objections by attorneys Haley Turner and Crystal Hernandez of Walsh Gallegos, counsel for the district. Some of the legal exceptions pertained to confidentiality, similar to the privacy objections used against May’s request. However, again, some lacked clear legal relevance.

One such exception Keller ISD’s attorneys raised was related to the “draft or working paper involved in the preparation of proposed legislation.” Given that none of the requested communications originate from a state legislator, it is not immediately clear what information this could pertain to.

Nevertheless, the public records requests were forwarded to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, where it currently remains without a decision.

DX‘s investigation proved somewhat more fruitful. Documents obtained by DX reveal that Travis sent a school-wide email to staff around 12:30 p.m. on February 8, after she had sent her assurances out to parents.

“I would like for us to meet briefly after school to debrief on the events of this morning. Please meet me in the library at 3:35,” Travis wrote.

However, the aforementioned authorities have blocked DX‘s efforts to obtain the 911 call placed to the Colleyville Police Department, police body cam footage, and school security footage. Hernandez sent a letter to the OAG objecting to releasing the security footage because it would reveal the locations of the school’s security cameras. Regarding the other requested material, Hernandez raised objections similar to those raised against Jones-Allen and May’s requests, citing legal exceptions that can be invoked when certain information may be used in a potential prosecution.

Still, there were again legal objections of unclear relevance. This time, Hernandez argued the information could not be released because it contained “student records,” and then she concluded by gesturing generally at an indistinct array of laws. She claimed the information should be withheld because of “any other state or federal law which permits or requires the protection of the requested records.” No citations were made to support this point.

DX contacted a variety of officials seeking comment, including Superintendent Tracy Johnson. Sullivan and Charles Randklev, who is both school board president and Sullivan’s opponent, were contacted. However, none of these individuals replied with a comment.

The only responsive party was Bryce Nieman, chief communications officer for the district. DX‘s request for comment, sent on April 5, identified Sullivan as the alleged disturber and gave the location of the incident but did not give a date at that time.

“I’m happy to look into this. Do you know when this alleged event occurred? I don’t recall Liberty Elementary initiating a lockdown anytime recently,” Nieman said. “I will say that, due to privacy considerations, we will likely be unable to provide any identifying information, but if you can provide a date or range, I can see if there were any issues that occurred that we can confirm.”

Later, Nieman followed up by stating that he could not state anything more than what Travis said in her original email, and he copied that message into the correspondence.

Despite the appearance that neither Liberty Elementary’s principal nor the district attorneys made the high-ranking district officials aware of the alleged incident involving Sullivan at Liberty Elementary, Edison opted not to criticize the district broadly. Rather, she praised the “front desk ladies” and the SRO, who she believes “acted immediately to keep our kids safe.” She repeatedly told DX how much she appreciated their quick action and attention.

Early voting in this election started on April 22 and continues until April 30. Election day is May 4.

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