BEAUMONT - by Megan Dillard
Beaumont school district police say video evidence and statements from witnesses led to their request for a warrant charging Jessie Haynes with obstruction.
District Attorney Tom Maness tells KFDM News his office filed a Class B Misdemeanor charge Monday morning against Haynes, the BISD special assistant to the superintendent for communications.
The charge of obstructing a public passageway stems from actions following an August 1 board meeting. The surveillance video shows Haynes blocking a door to prevent journalist Jerry Jordan from going into a room where the BISD attorney was answering reporters' questions.
Trustee Mike Neil tried to find out why Jordan wasn't allowed in. There was contact between Haynes and Neil.
If convicted, she faces up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Municipal Court in Beaumont is expected to decide whether to pursue a Class C Misdemeanor charge against Neil for assault. No decision has been made. If convicted, he would face a fine of up to $500.
The superintendent placed Haynes on administrative leave with pay August 5 pending the outcome of the case.
The school district attorney and a BISD spokesman told us they have no comment. Board President Woodrow Reese told KFDM News it's a personnel matter for the superintendent and not for the board.
KFDM's Megan Dillard is seeking answers to how the charge might impact the district and the community.
Our search for answers started at Jessie Haynes' front door.
We waited, waited, and waited.
Then our focus shifted to the Jefferson County Clerk's Office where we picked up the official charge against the Beaumont school district communication specialist.
We also sent a text message to Haynes' cell phone and she didn't respond.
We've reached out to board president Woodrow Reese as well as the president of the Beaumont chapter of the NAACP, and other people, who have in the past, publicly supported Jessie Haynes. No one wanted to speak about the charge or its potential impact on the district.
Haynes' actions took only a matter of seconds. Many believe the impact will be longer lasting and stretch beyond the hallway outside the boardroom into a region that spans miles.
Thousands of people drive on Interstate 10 each day. This highway is the main artery to and from Beaumont.
City and county leaders have worked together to bring people, revenue and growth to the area.
The Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce is the epicenter of the effort to attract economic development.
The man who runs the office, Jim Rich, the chamber president, is talking about the impact of the turmoil within the school district on his ability to do that job.
"Even if you have the perception that it's hindering growth, then you have to deal with that perception," said Rich.
That growth goes beyond buildings and attractions.
"We want a school district, and we should because we have all modern, up-to-date facilities, that the taxpayers have built, that we ought to be able to attract new residents here," Rich said. "That's the goal."
Trustee Tom Neild says there's no magic answer to healing the long-standing discord in BISD.
"I see the fix being the state coming and running this district," said Neild.
Neild told us the district can tighten its focus on what counts.
"What is working and what isn't working so that we can be quick to modify, get what is working properly, so that our children of our district benefit from it," said Neild
A district trying to make changes and move ahead while the criminal justice system turns its attention to the actions of August 1.
Jefferson County deputies say they don't expect to arrest Haynes. They'll allow her to surrender. They tell KFDM News her attorney will probably work with the D.A.'s office to set her bond.