Parents in Lorena Independent School District are speaking publicly and demanding answers about a sex abuse scandal that triggered a lawsuit by a 5-year-old victim’s family against the district and Lorena Primary School Principal April Jewell.

“All I want to know is that the district is going to hold April Jewell and other employees accountable,” Lorena ISD mom Rachel Eason told trustees during Monday night’s school board meeting. “At the moment it seems like the school district is more concerned with CYA than accountability and protecting our children.”

Eason was one of several parents who spoke during the unusually packed June 10 meeting.

Jewell also attended the meeting but did not speak.

According to a lawsuit filed last year, Jewell ignored months of warnings from multiple school employees about inappropriate behavior by pre-K teacher Nicolas Scot Crenshaw—an uncertified long-term substitute—toward two of his female students.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the lawsuit can proceed, rejecting claims by Jewell and the district that the suit should be dismissed. Jewell filed an appeal against that ruling on Monday, further delaying discovery in the case.

Court documents shared recently by local moms on social media provided details about the sexual assaults, and how district employees failed to prevent Crenshaw from committing the crimes, which many in the community had not heard before.

Crenshaw sexually abused the girls during the 2020-21 school year.

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 the primary school.

That’s a problem for Eason and others.

“Like other parents, my children’s safety is my top priority. And trusting their safety to other adults is an especially terrifying thought, given that a teacher was abusing children at Lorena Primary. Additionally, the elected officials over Lorena ISD have chosen to overlook that the principal was warned and did nothing to protect the children that she was responsible for,” Eason said Monday.

Eason told trustees Texas law requires reporting suspected sexual abuse.

“Lying down with a child under a blanket and lying down with a child straddling him were both reasons to report him,” she said. “We do not need hindsight to see that this is grooming behavior like April Jewell’s lawyers are trying to argue.”

Eason questioned why school officials claimed they knew nothing of the complaints about Crenshaw before he was arrested in May 2021. Records show Lorena ISD began making payments in March 2021 to outside law firm Walsh Gallegos, representing the district in the lawsuit.

She also asked what the school district is doing to support other students who were in Crenshaw’s class and witnessed his abuse, whether the district ever conducted a Title IX investigation, what the school is doing to ensure that future complaints will be taken seriously, how parents are being kept informed about situations involving their child, and what training improvements have been made since 2021.

Lane Wakefield, a Lorena ISD dad and recent school board candidate, compared the situation to a head coach taking responsibility for a team’s failures and contrasted the district’s response with Baylor’s handling of a past sexual assault claim.

“If the team performs poorly, the head coach is dismissed,” he said.

“As of June 2024 in Lorena ISD, principals are not held responsible by the board for repeated sexual abuse on school grounds during school hours by school employees if they can prove they’re unaware.”

In June 2016, Baylor faced allegations of mishandling sexual assault claims. Baylor’s president, athletic director, and head football coach each claimed they didn’t know what was happening, but each was fired or resigned well before a trial.


In Lorena, the superintendent, principal, and assistant principal are still employed with seemingly similar claims, not even on administrative leave…


At some point, failure falls on those ultimately responsible for the outcomes. As the late Ken Starr, former president of Baylor, said when he submitted his resignation, ‘The captain goes down with the ship.’

Wakefield told trustees that local families are now avoiding Lorena schools and will continue to choose other options until district officials take responsibility.

”As of now, this board has no backbone,” he said.

He noted the 714 signatures on an online petition demanding Jewell’s resignation as “a first step towards restoring confidence.” The petition was started by Lorena mom Jessica Montez, who also attended Monday’s meeting.

“Other districts are laughing at us,” said Ashley Moore, another Lorena mom. “One of our neighboring districts actually just used our most recent lawsuit as a training exercise. That’s embarrassing.”

Moore recommended hiring a third-party compliance officer to give teachers, staff, and parents a way to share their concerns and complaints without fear of judgment or retaliation.

“Teachers will not report to you guys due to the borderline bullying and passive-aggressive working environment,” she said. “You as the board will ask staff to show up to this meeting and speak in support of you. Have you asked any of them to speak up for the changes they wish to see?”

Moore said district officials have lost the trust of both teachers and parents by failing to listen and communicate.

“Parents respect leaders that can admit when they’re wrong, or at least admit change is needed,” she said. “I’m not going to trust you with the decisions for my children, and all of theirs, if you don’t think there’s problems in this district.”

“I stand here today saying Lorena needs change,” she added. “Most of the feedback I get is from your teachers. They applaud me for speaking up because they can’t and they won’t.”

I’m not going anywhere and I’m gonna fight for everyone’s kid including my own, your kids, their kids, everyone’s kids. Because I don’t just stand here for my own. I stand for all the parents who are too scared to stand in this room and say “Do better.” Because I know what “The Leopard Way” is. This isn’t it, but we can help you get it back.

Two people spoke in defense of the district and Jewell.

One was Jewell’s assistant principal, Stacy Isom, who said she started at Lorena Primary School two years ago—after Crenshaw’s sexual abuse of students was exposed in May 2021.

Isom praised Jewell’s leadership and told trustees that 65 percent of teachers at the school said in a year-end survey that “our campus culture couldn’t be better.”

She also implored community members to trust the judgment and leadership of Superintendent Joe Kucera and the elected school board members.

“I’m all about transparency and accountability, but we have to trust the process,” she said.

Marilyn Rowan, the mother of former Lorena ISD trustee Kristi Humphreys, also defended the district and Jewell.

Rowan accused local parents of “spreading gossip” on social media and “only presenting one side,” calling them “haters” who “will one day be silenced.”

She said pedophile Crenshaw—who she called a “jerk”—went to prison, so “the police did a good job and our principals did a good job.” Crenshaw was only arrested after a second student he victimized spoke out.

Rowan also accused the victim’s parents, identified as the Does in their lawsuit to protect their abused daughter from further trauma, of stirring up trouble for Jewell.

“Now, several years later, after she has been investigated through and through, the John Doe family is bringing it back up,” she said.

“You obviously think she should have been fired,” Rowan added. “But she must not have done anything wrong in the eyes of those that investigated this case.”

Jewell claims “qualified immunity” from civil liability in the Does’ federal lawsuit against her.

Whether the district or outside authorities ever investigated Jewell’s actions surrounding the allegations against Crenshaw remains unclear.

The Texas Education Agency said in a May 30 letter that Jewell is “currently under review by the TEA Educator Investigations Division” for an unspecified allegation of misconduct, but her state teaching certificate does not indicate that she is under review.

An August 2023 statement from Superintendent Joe Kucera—provided to Texas Scorecard by a parent, not the district—refers to an “internal investigation” that Kucera said “did not reveal evidence that Lorena ISD’s staff (other than Crenshaw himself) ignored or looked the other way.”

In a statement today to Texas Scorecard, the district said only that Lorena ISD “will not comment on pending litigation” and “intends to move forward with defending the claims and allegations that have been made against it and its employees.”

Lorena ISD does not record videos of school board meetings, but local photographer Jon Goddi filmed the public comments (see here and here).

Questions can be directed to school board trustees.

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.