Parents in Tioga Independent School District north of Dallas have accused an English teacher of grooming their daughter.
Mary and Wiley Alexander filed a Level Three grievance against Tioga ISD on August 4, after being dissatisfied with the outcomes of both the Level One grievance with Principal Keith Kirkland and the Level Two grievance with Superintendent Josh Ballinger earlier this summer.
The parents allege that the teacher in question—Brad Strickland—formed an inappropriate relationship with their daughter that included speaking with her outside of school hours late into the night and sending romantic messages via the social media app Snapchat.
According to the Alexanders, “the County Sheriff investigator said it was a textbook case of ‘Grooming,’ but there was no proof of sexual contact.”
The Alexanders’ daughter left home two days after graduating from Tioga High School and now lives with her former teacher and his family.
The Level Three grievance hearing was held during the executive session of the Tioga ISD October 16 school board meeting.
During the open portion of the school board meeting, TISD School Board Trustee Brandon Miller questioned Superintendent Ballinger as to why the board members weren’t provided with all of the evidence in this case sooner.
According to Miller, only three pages of the 266-page document had been provided. Although rules state that documents must be provided to board members at least 72 hours before the meeting, the superintendent has the authority to provide documents earlier, especially if there is a significant amount of information to review.
A heated discussion between Miller and Ballinger ensued in which Ballinger told Miller he would’ve provided the entire packet upon request.
During the executive session, the Alexanders and their lawyer, Janelle Davis, presented a 12-slide PowerPoint showing the evidence of “photos, Snapchat screenshots, copies of love notes/love letters, and two embedded voicemails from the teacher to the student (our daughter).”
Mary told Texas Scorecard, “With each slide, I included a corresponding School Board Policy or Educator Code of Ethics Standard that was clearly violated, of which there were several. The Board members agreed that policies had been violated. The Board President even asked the Superintendent, ‘Why are we just seeing this now?’ as though the matter was severe enough that it should have been brought to him prior to getting to the Level Three Grievance.”
Although the evidence is not yet public due to the ongoing investigation and potential litigation, Mary said Strickland confirmed that the voicemails and handwritten notes shown to the board were his.
He is reportedly on paid administrative leave, but still employed by the district.
His certificate with the Texas Education Agency notes that he is currently under investigation.
The next school board meeting is November 20.
Board members requested that Ballinger provide a recommendation on Strickland’s employment status.
However, Mary said there is a conflict of interest in asking Ballinger to provide that information because, “Josh Ballinger has a 25-year long relationship with Brad Strickland. He refused to fire Strickland at the Level Two Grievance. And Josh Ballinger is aware I have lodged a complaint against him, Garra Ballinger, Keith Kirkland and Charles Holloway with the [Texas Education Agency].”
“Josh Ballinger is not in a position to make a ‘recommendation’ on Strickland’s contract,” said Mary. “He is biased. He hasn’t been able to effectively discipline him the past two years. Why would he now? The Board has the authority to fire the teacher according to the Texas Educator Code and should do so immediately. Their ‘process’ should not take a month.”
“We hope to hear their decision to fire [the teacher] at that [November] meeting, but I don’t have my hopes up,” said Mary. “It seems to me as though they’re buying time to find a reason to keep him on staff, or to wait for my husband and me to give up. That’s not going to happen.”
The Alexanders expressed their disappointment with both the actions and inaction of the school district administrators:
My husband and I went to [former superintendent] Dr Holloway in March 2022, at the time of the second CPS case, and showed him the recently discovered evidence. In a follow-up meeting with him, he said he had met with Brett Smith [Grayson County District Attorney], and because there was no crime found of which to convict the teacher, nothing more could be done by the school. That was a lie. Not only could the school have done more, the school should have done more. That was 20 months ago…almost 2 years. The Principal [Keith Kirkland] even told us in March 2022, ‘Knowing what I know now, I probably won’t bring him back next year.’ He brought him back anyway, even though there was cause and according to his contract, the district did not have to renew it. We thought we had the relationship extinguished by the Summer 2022 (not expecting him to return in the Fall of 2022, her senior year). Little did we know the teacher was carrying on with our daughter in secret and coerced her to be untruthful to us, her parents.
“We put our faith and trust in school administration that they would enforce their policies to protect students,” said Mary. “They didn’t, and as a result, our family has been destroyed. I’ve lost my only child to a groomer teacher.”
“Grooming by teachers is an epidemic in the state of Texas,” warned Mary. “We didn’t even know what it was until it happened to us. Don’t think it can’t happen to you and your family.”
In nearby Pilot Point ISD, an athletic trainer was fired earlier this week for grooming a teenage student.
“We need to improve the education laws in Texas, so that students and families are better protected,” said Mary. “We need an Investigator General to provide independent oversight for the TEA, and that will have the authority to enforce the education laws of this state and guard parental rights.”
Texas Scorecard has reported on teachers around the state are being caught and charged with crimes against children, and more “bad apples” are being charged almost daily.
Tioga ISD Superintendent Josh Ballinger and all TISD school board trustees did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s request for comment before publication.