The mayor of Kirbyville, Texas, has spoken out in support of the school district superintendent who has been subjected to intense scrutiny over his perceived connection to the mysterious apparent suicide of the Kirbyville High School principal last week.
Dennis Reeves died of a gunshot wound to the head, believed to be self-inflicted, last Tuesday. Just before his death he had been in a meeting with Superintendent Tommy Wallis and Assistant Superintendent Georgia Sayers.
In a statement to police earlier this week, Wallis and Sayers said they called the meeting to confront Reeves over claims of an affair with his former secretary — which conflicts with Wallis’s earlier claim to local reporters that the there was nothing out of the ordinary about the meeting.
Wallis said in the statement that he told Reeves the principal could avoid an investigation if he confessed to the affair and resigned. Reeves offered his resignation, but nowhere in the statements does it say that he admitted to the affair.
Speculation within the community about the meeting that preceded Reeves’s suicide hit a fever pitch on Wednesday after the former school district superintendent Richard Hazlewood told Texas news station KFDM that he and Sayers had previously heard of the affair rumor in 2015. At the time, both Reeves and his then-secretary denied the rumors, Hazelwood said, and school officials found no evidence of an affair.
“Ms. Sayers was assistant superintendent and when she and I got wind of the rumors, she and I both investigated and there was absolutely nothing to it,” Hazlewood told the news station.
On Wednesday night, Kirbyville Mayor Frank George published a Facebook post in defense of Superintendent Wallis, which he deleted after the post sparked a firestorm of comments, some which he responded to with thick sarcasm.
“I fully support Dr. Tommy Wallis, Ms. Georgia Sayers, KCISD school board, teachers and staff,” he wrote. “Until you have walked in their shoes or been in the fiery furnace you can not know how hard their jobs are.
Referring to the former superintendent’s media comments about the affair, Mayor George said, “When two people deny something then you say it didn’t happen and for what ever reason one of the parties changes their story and reports it, then whoever is in authority [h]as a responsibil[ity] to investigate the allegation if that person is still in an employee,” he wrote, adding,
“There was some reason that compelled the individual to want to revisit the claim.”
Reached by phone, Mayor George said he deleted the post because all of the comments, speculating about what may or may not have happened, “got out of hand.”
While insisting that he respects the former superintendent and considers him a friend, the mayor said, “I thought the comments Mr. Hazlewood had made were kind of vague.”
“This has really torn up our community,” he said, referring to Dennis Reeves’s death and the speculation in the community that certain school officials are not being entirely forthcoming.
Mayor George indicated that he believes the superintendent and assistant superintendent acted entirely appropriately.
“The lady employee [Mr. Reeves’s former secretary] must have changed her story and decided not to keep [the alleged affair] concealed,” he said.
After the meeting with Wallis and Sayers, Reeves reportedly walked to his car and sat in it for a while. In his statement to police, Wallis said he contacted colleagues to express his concern, and directed Sayers to go to another school administration building while he remained at the high school.
Asked why Superintendent Wallis called the school district president, who then called Mayor George, who then called the police chief to report that Dennis Reeves had been sitting in his car — instead of calling police directly — the mayor suggested that perhaps Wallis thought Reeves might become aggressive.