Lowndes Co. school superintendent turns self in
LOWNDES CO., AL (WSFA) - UPDATE: Dr. Boyd found not guilty on all counts. Read more
The Lowndes County school superintendent has posted bond and is out of jail after turning himself into police Thursday night.
According to the Lowndes County Board of Education Attorney Hank Sanders, Dr. Daniel Boyd turned himself into the Lowndes County Jail Thursday around 8 p.m. and posted his $12,150 bond. His trial has been set for May 9.
On Wednesday, Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell confirmed an arrest warrant had been issued for the superintendent on 243 counts of reckless endangerment.
Boyd's arrest warrant came after Chief Mitchell was suspended on April 10 for "insubordination" after he tried to arrest Boyd at a Lowndes County Board of Education meeting. Mitchell was reinstated Monday.
The 243 counts represent the female students at Hayneville Middle School and Central Elementary School who were allegedly put in danger when a school employee who had been accused of fondling a female student was allowed to return to work.
Lee Andrew Saffold was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old Hayneville Middle School student while she was on her way to class in September.
After Saffold's arrest, Boyd told WSFA 12 News that the school district conducted their own investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing by Saffold. Boyd said their investigation found "inconsistencies" in the teenager's story.
"We checked the records and she was not tardy going to that class," Boyd said.
But Police Chief Mitchell's investigation ended differently for Saffold, who eventually resigned and pleaded guilty to enticement of a child for immoral purposes on April 9.
The superintendent is getting strong support from the Alabama Association of School Boards and the School Superintendents of Alabama.
"School superintendents across alabama are alarmed and dismayed at what's happening in lowndes county," said Eric Mackey, the Executive Director of School Superintendents of Alabama.
"School board policy and the legal protocol were followed," said Sally Howell, Alabama Association of School Boards Executive Director.
Sanders called the arrest warrant "outrageous" and provided WSFA with a copy of a letter he sent to the Hayneville mayor and town council asking them to immediately withdraw the warrant.
"This is a terrible mistake on the part of the town of Hayneville. Every school board has a right to make decisions as they see best for that school system. We have a police chief who is substituting his judgement for that not only of the superintendent but for the Lowndes County Board of Education," Sanders said. "The warrant is just completely wrong but he is determined to arrest him for reasons of his own."
Sanders says the superintendent notified the Department of Human Resources immediately after the complaint was made by the student against the custodian and that the custodian was placed on leave until the incident was investigated.
When the school district could not substantiate the student's complaint, Boyd consulted with DHR and advised the school board that the custodian would return to work but would be transferred to another school, Central Elementary School in Mosses. Sanders says the arrest warrant is a "personal vendetta" against Boyd by the police chief.
"All the law was followed. When he became aware of it, he put the custodian on leave and notified DHR as the law required. It's my understanding that the chief of police got mad with him and wanted to arrest him because he didn't inform the chief of police. The law doesn't require him to inform the chief of police. He informs DHR and DHR informs the law enforcement people. So he wanted to arrest him for that. This, in my opinion, is a personal vendetta," Sanders told WSFA.
Sanders, who has been representing school boards since 1982, says Boyd will use every available legal recourse to fight the accusations.
"If the chief can successfully do this, then no superintendent in the state is safe from making any decision because a local police chief can override that decision and arrest you. I've never seen anything like this. This is a terrible day for Lowndes County school system. This is a terrible day for Hayneville. And it's a terrible day for every school system in the state of Alabama," Sanders said.
Chief Mitchell sees it as police work.
"I'm just sworn to protect and serve and I'm trying to do my job," Mitchell said.
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