The Texas Education Agency suspended the administrator’s license of Rachell Grant in June for her role in covering up allegations of sexual malfeasance at Prosper ISD, but records obtained by Texas Monitor show Grant, a former associate principal at Prosper High School, remains on the district’s payroll as a lower level employee.
Despite the reduced responsibilities, records show Grant continues to collect an administrator-level salary.
In requesting a transfer within the North Texas school district in May, Grant stated she sought to become a student activities coordinator, which requires no certification from the state. Her reason for the move was “personal growth.”
Prosper High School Principal John Burdette approved her transfer.
Since her suspension took effect June 22, records show, Grant’s pay level has not changed.
“The only July payment … was, I believe, a payment for working summer school, which was completed in June while she was still associate principal,” Greg Bradley, assistant superintendent for business at Prosper ISD, said in an email. A July record of her pay shows the same pay as June — $7,108, plus $2,500 as a “supplemental” pay.
Bradley did not respond to a call seeking clarification.
Grant did not respond to requests for comment either. She was part of a team of administrators who allegedly tried to hush up a claim of intimate advances made by a teacher’s aide on a student in 2015.
The student told teacher MariBeth Thomas of the alleged advances, and Thomas reported the situation to both upper administration at the school and the local police department, as required by state law.
After reporting the advances, Thomas was called into a meeting with Grant, Prosper High School Principal Greg Wright, Assistant Principal Shelia Winter and Chad Vessels, chief of the school’s police force. They were angry with Thomas for reporting the incident, according to state investigation documents.
The state report, which relied in part on a tape of the meeting recorded by Thomas, said “Grant misrepresented [the student’s] concerns about how [the student] felt about the situation [and] was more concerned about a false accusation of the alleged perpetrator than about accurately reporting [the student’s] claims to law enforcement.”
Thomas was advised that going to the Prosper police rather than the district’s internal police was the wrong thing to do. Administrators told her — incorrectly — that “the reason for this was to keep the student’s name ‘out of things,’” according to the state’s findings. Privacy laws protect the names of students involved in such cases.
Grant told Thomas that “WE (administrators) are the PD.”
Grant’s principal’s license was suspended for one year while Wright surrendered his license permanently. Winters received a reprimand.
Tiger Hanner, the attorney who represented Grant in her case with the TEA, said that despite the state’s findings and her suspension, Grant still “has a contract with the district because the district investigated the case and felt like it [the suspension] had nothing to do with kids and was actually caused by the principal of the high school.” He contended that the TEA misidentified a voice on the tape as Grant’s.
“The district likes her, it wants to keep her. She’s been very effective and [the new position] was an opportunity to make things work,” he said.
He added that the move “is not common but in this case it is 100 percent justified.”
All three educators sanctioned in the cover-up are still working in the education field.
Wright is now a principal at Prestonwood Christian Academy’s Prosper campus. Private schools are not bound by the same licensing rules as state schools. Winter is now the principal of the district’s alternative education school. And Grant’s new job is a one-year appointment that ends in June, when her suspension is up. She could conceivably return to a principal’s job after that.
Grant’s new job is out of the state’s enforcement range, said DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the TEA.
“It now becomes a local issue,” Culberston said. “If anyone has an issue with this kind of things, they need to address it with the school board or the school district.”
The attempt to conceal the aide’s sexual misconduct was part of a series of incidents that prompted statewide reform of reporting practices in schools. Senate Bill 7 strengthened the penalties for failing to properly report improper conduct. The law took effect Sept. 1, 2017.
Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].