School superintendent turns self in for reckless endangerment

Published 1:38 pm Friday, April 18, 2014

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Lowndes County School Superintendent of Education Dr. Daniel Boyd, 50, of Pike Road, turned himself in and bonded out at the John Hulett Detention Facility in Hayneville last Thursday on one count of reckless endangerment.

Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell said he got a warrant for Boyd on 243 counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the way Boyd handled the case of a Hayneville Middle School janitor, who pleaded guilty to enticing a child for immoral purposes.

According to Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office personnel, Boyd turned himself in and made bond of $5,400 for one count of reckless endangerment at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday night.

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When contacted Friday, Boyd’s only comment was, “This is a really sad state of affairs.” He did confirm, however, that Lowndes County School Board attorney Hank Sanders is representing him at this point.

Mitchell declined to comment on the case on Friday.

“I’ve represented school boards since 1982 and never in all these years have I seen a situation where a local police chief was trying to substitute his judgment for a superintendent who had followed all of the rules and for a board of education that has made a decision,” Sanders said.

“This is an attack on the superintendent. When you look at it, these 243 charges … that’s outrageous.”

Sanders said the charges filed and the arrest is a case of Mitchell “overstepping” his authority.

“This is not about education, this not about protecting any children,” Sanders said. “This is about an overstepping … a gross overstepping of a police chief.”

Sally Howell, J.D., executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards said, “What else can you call this scenario but utterly outrageous? What a sad day it is when school officials can be arrested for following the law and abiding by school board policy.”

She said, ” Dr. Boyd’s responsibility was to take seriously the student’s allegation, contact the Department of Human Resources, place the accused janitor on leave and conduct an internal investigation. His internal investigation simply did not yield sufficient evidence to corroborate the allegation. It is unconscionable to suggest that Dr. Boyd put a single student in harm’s way given the information available to him following the investigation.”

She continued, “School boards and their administrators have authority and responsibilities quite different and distinct from law enforcement. School officials cannot take action against an employee with no evidence to support it. School officials should not be threatened with criminal action when they have acted in compliance with the law and board policy.

“While the police chief may not agree with the result of the investigation or resolution of the complaint, the Alabama Association of School Boards strongly objects to his using his position and the judicial system to make this a criminal matter. This unsettling precedent invites a potential for misuse of office and vindictive actions against any local school official or employee when no law has been broken.”

Boyd is scheduled to make an appearance in the Hayneville Municipal Court Thursday, May 8.

Mitchell confirmed Tuesday he got a warrant for Boyd on 243 counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the way Boyd handled the case of a Hayneville Middle School janitor, who eventually pleaded guilty to enticing a child for immoral purposes.

He explained that reckless endangerment meant one recklessly places a person at risk of serious physical injury. And he said on Tuesday, “This number (of counts against Boyd) comes from the number of students at the Hayneville Middle School… the number of female students at the Hayneville Middle School … and the number of female students at the Central Elementary School.”

Mitchell gave Boyd until Friday at 4 p.m. to turn himself in. on the charges.

By way of background, Lee Andrew Saffold, 47, of Hayneville, who was employed as a janitor at Hayneville Middle School, was indicted on charges of sexual abuse second degree, enticing a child and sexual contact with a student, but eventually pleaded guilty to enticing a child for immoral purposes.

According to Mitchell, Saffold was arrested on Oct. 24 for an alleged incident that occurred at Hayneville Middle School on Sept. 30 following a report by school officials to the Department of Human Resources.

Boyd said Saffold was working at Hayneville Middle School when he was accused of something.

“On Sept. 30, it was reported by a student that Mr. Saffold had touched her inappropriately,” Boyd said.

He said the principal contacted DHR and that Saffold was “placed on leave with pay pending an investigation.”

He said Saffold reported back to work at the Central Office Oct. 11 and was placed at Central Elementary where he worked until his arrest.

Boyd said, “We did our internal investigation, and we did not find any evidence to corroborate what the student was saying.”

Prior to turning himself in Thursday, Boyd said, “I follow all the guidelines based on our polices and did everything that I felt was appropriate. Time will tell with this particular matter. In a matter of a few weeks we are going to know the full outcome of everything.”

The deadline given to Boyd to turn himself in was a condition placed on Mitchell to remain in his position as police chief.

Mitchell had earlier been suspended by Hayneville Mayor Kelvin Lawrence over the way he planned to make the arrest. The mayor and council gave Mitchell the opportunity to return to work if he gave Boyd the opportunity to turn himself in.

I just didn’t want the way he was trying to arrest the superintendent to happen that way,” Lawrence said.

Mitchell said, “Mayor Lawrence and I have a great professional and personal relationship. We had a miscommunication about the arrest and that’s the only thing that transpired. We miscommunicated as to the arrest.”