Longview Independent School District and East Texas Advanced Academies
Respond to former J.L. Everhart Employee Arrests
Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox confirmed that a grand jury empaneled by the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office returned indictments on June 22, 2022, against six former LISD employees for various offenses allegedly committed toward students enrolled in the J.L. Everhart life skills classroom during the initial weeks of the 2021-2022 school year.
Wilcox confirmed that the employees have been charged and indicted in connection with alleged offenses toward students enrolled in the J.L. Everhart life skills classroom. The employees are:
According to Longview ISD, district officials first reported concern to the authorities in October when evidence of student mistreatment surfaced. The District immediately removed the offending employees, contacted the parents, and began an open and active line of communication with the Longview Police Department, (LPD) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“I am both shocked and deeply saddened by the scope of charges resulting from LPD’s investigation,” said Dr. Wilcox. “The allegations, if proven to be true, are contrary to the standards of ethics required of all educators and inconsistent with the expectations we have that all employees place the care and wellbeing of our students above all else.”
The former LISD employees assigned to the classroom – Cecelia Gregg, Paula Dixon and Cynthia Talley – were released from employment in October 2021 immediately upon the District’s discovery of their alleged actions.
Administrators Cassandra James and Linda Lister resigned in lieu of termination. Priscilla Johnson, a teacher who frequented the room, also resigned.
The District reported the conduct of these former employees to the State Board of Educator Certification, who is charged with the responsibility of investigating to determine whether these individuals will keep their professional educator certificates.
“The actions of these individuals, while clearly unacceptable and worthy of sanction, were isolated to one classroom and should not be a reflection on the remaining educators employed by our District. At Longview ISD, we are blessed to have teachers and paraprofessionals who work above and beyond every day to ensure the success of students and we are particularly proud of those dedicating their life’s work to special needs children,” said LISD Board President, Michael Tubb. “We will not allow these unfortunate allegations and events to dissuade or dilute the commitment of so many hard-working educators.”
Furthermore, all parents of students within the JLE classroom were made aware of the concern when originally reported. Support systems were put in place to address each student’s needs, resulting in all students, with the exception of one, remaining at the JLE campus and returning for the 2022-2023 school year having met their prior year goals.
According to the district, “The Longview Independent School District and the East Texas Advanced Academies joins these families in seeking justice for any harm caused and will continue to act proactively with all involved in investigating these matters to assist with release and sharing of information required for prosecution and the appropriate assignment of accountability.”
“ETAA is disappointed in the actions of these individuals whose alleged criminal conduct falls far below the expectations of ETAA Board of Directors and leadership team said East Texas Advanced Academies Board President, Jud Murray. “We look to the judicial process and the SBEC process for the next right outcomes for these individuals. ETAA joins the school district in their commitment to maintain the trust of the parents and students involved. We also continue to recognize the overall high caliber of LISD educators assigned to ETAA campuses. They are committed to student well-being and education.”
James Brewer, ETAA Interim Executive Director said, “I am confident that the actions taken by the LISD special education department since October have remediated any concern related to the provision of services in the life skills classroom at JLE. We go into the 2022-2023 school year excited about the opportunities to be provided for all ETAA students. All of our efforts are geared toward enhancing the safety and success of our entire student population.”
At this time, LISD or ETAA will not issue any further statements in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation and the work being performed by the Longview Police Department and the Gregg County District County Attorney’s Office.