Hayneville Police Chief holds press conference on arrest of school superintendent

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, April 24, 2014

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

With the mother of an alleged sex crime victim by his side, Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell held a press conference Thursday to explain the timeline of events that led to the arrest of Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd on a charge of reckless endangerment.

“A sexual perpetrator should not have been allowed back on campus and should not have been transferred to an elementary school during the criminal investigation, which resulted in a conviction,” Mitchell said.

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Mitchell made the statement during a press conference at Hayneville Town Hall accompanied by the victim’s mother, Romeka Smith of Hayneville, Mitchell’s personal attorney, Troy Teague of Montgomery, and Lowndes County Probate Judge John E. Hulett.

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

Boyd turned himself in at the John Hulett Detention Facility in Hayneville on Thursday, April 17 on one count of reckless endangerment and made bond of $5,400.

Lee Andrew Saffold, 47, of Hayneville was indicted by a Lowndes County grand jury on the charges of sexual abuse second degree, enticing a child and sexual contact with a student.

He entered a plea of guilty to enticing a child for immoral purposes, said Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte M. Tesmer.

Lowndes County Circuit Court Ruby Jones-Thomas said Saffold’s plea agreement was for a 10-year reverse split sentence to serve three years on probation and 24 months in a penitentiary and included that Saffold submit to mental evaluation and treatment.

Mitchell said everything started with a child allegedly being solicited by the janitor, then on to the teacher and guidance counselor to let them know what had transpired that day at school.

He said, “Six hours later the mother was notified. Seven and a half hours later DHR (Department of Human Resources) was notified.” And Mitchell said, “I was notified three days later.”

Mitchell said, “The Board of Education based on Superintendent Boyd’s own admission said that he did an internal investigation; he found no wrong doings and inconsistencies with the young lady’s story and he had made a decision to place the janitor back into Hayneville Middle School.”

Mitchell said the mother of the child was “distraught” and that to pacify her, Boyd placed the janitor into the Central Elementary School.

“I had a conversation with Dr. Boyd during this time and made him aware that there was criminal investigation taking place,” Mitchell said. “Evidently that didn’t mean anything to him. He continued on and placed the janitor back into the school.”

Mitchell said some 24-25 days later, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the janitor and that he made the arrest along with a Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputy at the Central Elementary School Campus. And, he said, Saffold resigned his position.

Mitchell said the arrest of Boyd from the moment he placed the children at risk was impending.

He said a criminal investigation and that of DHR found probable cause to present the case against Saffold to the grand jury. “Ultimately he pleaded guilty to a charge of enticing a child for immoral purposes. The misdemeanor aspect sexual abuse in the second degree was evidently dismissed in the plea agreement… that was the actual touching of the child.”

Mitchell said, “And from that we landed here with the arrest of Superintendent Boyd for placing those children at risk of serious physical injury by placing the janitor back into the school among the children during the criminal investigation.”

Smith told The Lowndes Signal that she felt Boyd’s arrest was justified, that he didn’t contact her as a mother, but that her child had to tell her what was going on.

She said she felt Boyd was “trying to sweep it under the rug” and that, “It was not handled property by the school superintendent.”

She said she could not withdraw her child from school because she did not have another school for the child to attend.

Mitchell said, “I would like the citizens to have a voice in who they want to represent them as their superintendent.”

Lowndes County School Board Attorney Hank Sanders said after Boyd turned himself in, “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.”

Sally Howell, J.D., executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards also 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.”

Boyd is scheduled for a May 8 appearance in Hayneville Municipal Court.

He declined to comment on Thursday’s press conference. But said after he turned himself in on the reckless endangerment charge, “This is a really sad state of affairs.”