PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

November 13, 2012

NISD excuses student, avoids court date

Josh Brown
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Nederland ISD avoided a court hearing brought on by one of its own trustees after deciding to not pursue the contested punishment of a student during its board meeting Monday night.

On Oct. 30, Nederland High School officials found four cans of beer in the tool box of a truck owned by a family member of trustee Marty Byrd.

The student, who cannot be named because of his/her age, was banned from any school activities and was placed in an alternative classroom in accordance with district policy.

The student claimed to have no knowledge of how or when the beer was placed in the truck, and a formal complaint was filed against the punishment.

The initial report after the beer was found, which was filed at 2:15 p.m., said the beer was cold and wet with condensation. The student claimed the tool box had been locked the night before and that the key hole had scratch marks as if someone forced it open.

Dean Brinkley, representing Byrd and his family member, received a 14-day temporary restraining order through the 60th district court allowing the student to resume normal activities at school.

Brinkley’s argument essentially claimed the school assumed the student was “guilty until proven innocent” and the evidence surrounding his punishment was circumstantial.

“We had to show we had a valid claim and the judge saw our point,” Brinkley said.

A court date was set for Nov. 16 to decide if the restraining order should extended, but the case is now complete. The trustees heard Brinkley’s argument and, after more than an hour behind closed doors, decided to not pursue the student’s punishment.

The decision passed 4-2 with Suzanne Isom and Nicholas Phillips dissenting. Byrd excused himself from participating.

The board did not provide a reason for its decision.

Tanner Hunt, NISD’s attorney, said the involvement of a fellow trustee had no impact on the board’s decision. He said he did not want to speculate what was discussed in the closed session.

“I’m sure they very carefully analyzed the documents, but I cannot speak for them,” he said. “There were a number of factors and each board member probably had their own reasoning.”