Following months of silence, Lorena Independent School District trustees released a statement responding to parents’ concerns that no administrators have been held accountable for a shocking sex abuse scandal involving pre-K students.

The statement came a day after Lorena City Council members rejected two city board applicants labeled “adversarial” to the school district.

The school board’s message, emailed Tuesday to Lorena ISD families, contained no new information.

Instead, the trustees explained that they could not respond to “rumors” or “misinformation” on social media due to “complexities surrounding an open civil lawsuit.”

The lawsuit, filed last year by the family of a 5-year-old sex abuse victim, accused Principal April Jewell of ignoring months of warnings from multiple Lorena Primary School employees about inappropriate behavior by long-term substitute teacher Nicolas Crenshaw toward two of his female students.

Crenshaw was arrested in May 2021. In 2023, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a young child and other sex crimes against the students and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Jewell kept her job as principal of Lorena Primary School.

The district’s last statement on the lawsuit was issued in August 2023.

Since then, the district has answered questions with “no comment.”

Many in the Lorena ISD community began asking questions last month after learning more details about the sexual assaults—and how district employees failed to prevent them—from court documents shared by local parents on social media.

The trustees’ email asked families to remain “patient with the discovery and judicial process and not rush to judgment prior to all facts being presented.”

The community’s patience is wearing thin, but they will have to keep waiting for all the facts to be presented in court.

Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected Jewell’s claim of qualified immunity, which shields government employees from civil lawsuits. But Jewell immediately appealed, further delaying discovery.

A trial is tentatively set for October 2025.

Area residents commented on coverage of the story by local news outlet KWTX.

“They know exactly what they’re trying to do…draw it out and make it as painful as possible on the victims and their families until they want to settle so nothing in the discovery is made PUBLIC,” Lorena ISD mom Ashley Moore posted on Facebook.

“April Jewell at minimum was severely negligent to her students’ safety, but in all truth facilitated a crime against a child, and should be prosecuted as such,” wrote mom Katie Carter.

“If there’s any truth to these allegations she should resign,” dad Colton Alsip commented. “Those kids should be her number one concern and she failed them.”

“Besides that, her previous behavior has ran off so many good teachers that had been at the primary way before she arrived,” added Lorena resident Lynne Schlaud.

Lorena ISD mom Jessica Montez commented that Jewell “told parents in closed door meetings NOTHING was reported to her.”

Her defense says yes things were reported but they were unprofessional and didn’t warrant investigation or notifying parents. The district’s continued support of her speaks volumes. Who are they protecting? How much did the superintendents know? They are protecting each other. Image is everything in this city. Just watch our latest city council meeting!!!

On Monday night, Lorena City Council members rejected two applicants for seats on the city’s economic development corporation because they have publicly criticized the school district’s response to the sex abuse scandal.

During the meeting, Lorena Mayor Tommy Ross said applicants Elliott Kelly and Lane Wakefield were “definitely qualified” to serve on the EDC but he had “concerns about both of them.”

Ross called Lorena ISD the city’s “second-best asset” and said the city needed to be “unified” with the school district.

“We stick together. We have to be unified,” said Ross, calling Kelly and Wakefield “adversarial.”

Other council members stated that people and businesses come to Lorena for the school district.

Councilmember Brad Wetzel said he had supported Wakefield, but over the last week, some “contentious” issues had been brought up in the community.

Wetzel was referring to a June 12 school board meeting at which Wakefield and other parents spoke about the sex abuse scandal and called for Jewell to resign.

“Business doesn’t like drama,” added Councilmember Emily McKenzie. “I don’t see it benefitting EDC.”

After the council moved to reject Wakefield and Kelly, the two were allowed to speak.

Wakefield noted that council members had already made up their minds and said he is “not adversarial, but seeking truth.”

He also clarified that he has been “sticking up for many in the school district” including teachers.

“We’re not against the school district. We moved here for the schools,” Elliot added.

Three council members voted to reject Wakefield and Elliot: McKenzie, Jason Blanek, and Katrina George; two members, Wetzel and Kelly Yarbrough, abstained.

“They continue to defame and discredit anyone that is fighting to remove April Jewell as principal,” said Montez following the council meeting.

“Not one person I have spoken with is against the district. It’s the opposite. We are for our children and our teachers. We are against people holding such important roles in our schools and community that turn a blind eye and allow grooming and molestation. Against someone creating such a toxic work environment that we cannot keep teachers in her school,” she said.

Moore added that city and school officials’ unwillingness to “have hard and uncomfortable conversations is exactly why Lorena is continuing to fail our students and families.”

“This is why as voters we need to pay attention and hold our elected officials accountable,” Lorena resident Heidi Pezdek said Tuesday.

Last night we heard Lorena ISD is a financial commodity for EDC opportunities. Keeping LISD’s stellar reputation trumps truth, accountability, and integrity. This sets a dangerous precedent for covering up any LISD problems parents and taxpayers should be aware of.

“Standing up for truth and accountability takes courage but in the end makes for honest, healthy conversation for a healthy community,” added Pezdek.

Previous coverage of Lorena ISD:

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.