Lots More to Come in Saga of Suspended School District Sleuth

Categories: Schutze

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The Jeremy Liebbe story, when told, will be another one about the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

The Dallas Morning News has an editorial this morning suggesting that the Dallas school district put a top internal investigator on leave last month to cover something up. The editorial is a development of some good writing Mike Hashimoto has been doing on the paper's opinion blog, and, for once, I do get it.

But the paper and Hashimoto will turn out to have it wrong. Instead when this story is fully told it will be but one more disappointing chapter in that never-ending school board saga, "The Gang That Not Only Couldn't Shoot Straight, It Shot Itself in the Ass."

Jeremy Liebbe, 35, was a respected sleuth in the Dallas Police Department before going to work as a civilian detective in the Dallas Independent School District 10 years ago. Recently he was the lead investigator in the district's sports recruiting scandal. His work enabled Superintendent Mike Miles to go after a really tough, seemingly intractable corruption problem that was never resolved, in fact was never even touched by half a dozen superintendents before him.

So Liebbe is a person with a long record as a respected investigator. The Morning News raises an absolutely fair question: Why was he frog-walked out of district headquarters last month and placed on leave? Did it have anything to do with some embarrassing information he dug up about his boss' teenage arrest record?

No. I have been aware for some time from multiple reliable sources within DISD headquarters that the facts in the Liebbe case, though very complicated, will be pretty plain in terms of why he was suspended. And it won't be retaliation.

To put this in context we have to go back almost a year to the story of Don Smith, head of something called the "Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)" in DISD. Smith and OPR have since been brought to heel, somewhat, in a reorganization of the district's auditing function, but a year ago OPR was operating as the personal Keystone Kops for a minority on the school district who wanted Miles fired.

The question was always who works for whom? Smith thought he had carte blanche to investigate anybody he wanted, any time he felt like it, whenever or wherever he personally thought he smelled a rat. Miles thought he was Smith's boss. He thought Smith should investigate when Miles told him to, not investigate when Miles told him not to.

I don't think Smith ever went to the media, but when Miles told Smith to chill, those school board members who wanted to get Miles did go. It was gigantic mess. Miles survived it. But I think most of us can understand that the boss has to be the boss; the board can fire him if they think he's no good; but individual board members can't reach down into the boss' staff and tell them to defy the boss. That's a junk pile.

That's what the Liebbe matter will be. I don't have specifics on who did exactly what. I do know that this has nothing to do with Liebbe's boss' problems as a teenager. This will turn out to involve spy cameras planted in offices at school district headquarters in direct defiance of a directive from management, probably in response to board pressure.

I don't know what Liebbe's personal role is alleged to have been. (I have a call in to his lawyer.) I don't know enough to tell you now if the ultimate finding will be that the cameras in question were, indeed, off-the-books spy mechanisms or normal security equipment installed to protect school district employees from danger.

But I do know what the accusation is and that the district's police department is investigating: whether somebody was sneaking around headquarters at night planting spy cameras in people's offices, even after having been told directly not to do it. And, if so, why? Who put them up to it?

Let's hope Liebbe comes out of it with a clean bill of health. Certainly his resume would indicate he should. He has earned respect in his career, and he serves the benefit of the doubt now. But if those cameras were rogue spy devices and if board members were involved, somebody ought to go to jail for it.


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98 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

I don't know why this kind of foolishness is going on in a large urban school district, but it's obviously emblematic of greater dysfunctional problems in what is increasingly becoming a joke by area educators and businesses who must depend on hiring its graduates. But, taxpayers don't think it's funny. 


In the meantime, the hidden camera caper is something akin to a cross between "Candid Camera" and Watergate, but without the funny script or the snappy second-story burgling work....or Inspector Clouseau meets the Keystone Cops.  


Planting hidden cameras in offices or a classroom environment are challenging - especially if it would be a disaster were they discovered.  Then there is the problem of having to change the recording disks or drives; not all that easy when they have to be changed out after office hours, but the security people have cameras in all the hallways that are also being recorded.


And whenever there are hidden cameras on an office, you can bet the telephones were being wiretapped.  


The cameras must either have their own recording devices, or powerful transmitters that will send the video and audio signals some distance by radio waves to a remote recording device, and perhaps monitors as well. And, then someone has to make a log for each camera, and include the time references for each log entry. 

Anyone still wondering why DISD is graduating so many functional illiterates. 





fromtexasbygod
fromtexasbygod

There is nothing unusual or outrageous about a governing board exercising independent oversight through an investigator or inspector answering directly to the board.  For example, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in large state agencies answer directly to the agency commission and not to the agency director. 


Obviously Miles and his hand picked immensely qualified DISD Cabinet (Capella University?) are vehemently opposed to and resentful of the independent oversight concept and are purging anyone who interferes with the Superintendent letting the School Board know only what he wants them to know.  You don't have to be very smart to figure this one out.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

An investigator, by his job description must have a higher expectation of privacy to ensure integrity of investigations.

So, name the bored member, and do a recall, or at least the stocks for a week.

And check his/her swimming pool.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

Anyone seen BMarvel,  Ive been looking for some asinine thing he might say today and have not seen him

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

OK, Schulte and I have spoken. He is checking to see if my message was taken by his answering service this morning.

He told me that cameras may be an issue in this but they would be only cameras in his client’s own office installed with authorization from above. He said there is no allegation that anyone has been sneaking around at night putting cameras in other people’s offices.

We discussed another issue I knew of but did not raise in my item this morning – that his client took measures to firewall his own computers so that managers above him could not look into them. Schulte said his client took measures in keeping with the stated mission of his office to protect the security of his computers.

We agreed that this matter involves a core question of management control and responsibility. Schulte’s client, Liebbe, works for the superintendent. Does Liebbe have a right or need to carry out investigations counter to instructions received from the superintendent or from managers between the superintendent and Liebbe in the chain of command? We agreed that this question is in contention in this situation.

Schulte said all of this is connected to the athletic recruitment scandal. Since writing the item, I have spoken with another well informed source who suggested that most of this is being driven by a particular member of the school board. I happen to know that the member in question has a strong interesting protecting the interests of school district staff fired, suspended or demoted in that situation.  


gm0622
gm0622

This should be fu. A reporter vs lawyer pissin match......

Hang on to your hats and keep the shoes dry.


PS4131
PS4131

Jim,


Attorney Pete Schulte here.  You do know I represent Mr. Liebbe, right?  I only ask since I've been in my office all morning and there have been NO attempts by you or anyone from the Observer to contact me (you state in your article, "I have a call into his lawyer.")  Simply not true.


Your "reliable" sources are anything but.  There is absolutely no truth to the information you are reporting.  Additionally, the DISD Police Department has NO ROLE in this investigation.  Makes me question your journalistic ethics on this one.  


So I have a deal for you... Why don't you really attempt to contact me before writing such fiction?  I could have told you that your information was absolutely false.  Perhaps you should question your "sources" about their motive to lie...


Attorney Pete Schulte

(214-521-2200 in case you have the wrong number).  

EdCota
EdCota

I understand that legal reasons often prevent institutions from commenting on situations like these. But with the perp walk and lack of detail, DISD has left Tonya Grayson out to dry by allowing the perception to be that this is her on a power trip.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Without specific reference to this case, Jim, "I think most of us can understand that the boss has to be the boss" Would you have extended that to Richard M. "Saturday Night Massacre" Nixon?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@ozonelarryb

Not saying this applies to Liebbe (don't know) but an investigator must not be rogue. Then what you have is a McCarthy (dog whistle to bmarvel).

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Chattering_Monkey

B was here earlier (see below) with a snappy reference to  something in history, Teapot Dome I think..

PS4131
PS4131

@JimSX Jim - Our Answering Service is still researching who you talked to... They do not have a record of a message from you (or anyone) at 8:24am.  I will keep on them... they have been our service provider for years and I want to make sure no other messages are being lost!  Thanks for posting the update.  Pete

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Incredible--blogheads (snippishly) cooperate to deliver something like the truth. There is hope for mankind. We may be nasty, brutish, and short, but we are trying to play nice.

EdCota
EdCota

So people were sneaking around Liebbe's office, snooping on his computer?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@PS4131

I have your number. I did call. I was told that you were in court. Check around your office.You have my number. 

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@PS4131 Wow, someones lawyer saying that something written in the news about his client is false.  and slams the sources too, whodathunkit

wcvemail
wcvemail

@EdCota

Interestingly, as I first learned when the State of Florida clammed up about their child protective services debacle by claiming "legal reasons," there is rarely actual legislation or even public policy against commenting. The excuse "unable to comment because it's a personnel matter" is mostly a smokescreen by spokesmouths who don't know what to say, but who know that whatever they say will bite them, so they blame an un-referenceable law.

James080
James080

@bmarvel 

Hey bmarvel...looks like you got yourself a blog stalker.  ٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@bmarvel Hey bm, how you doing today?  Got another story from the 60's or 70s that doesnt relate to current events you'd like bring up

epicmale
epicmale

We need another McCarthy!

epicmale
epicmale

@JimSX @ozonelarryb  Nice try with the dog whistle comment.  Kind of reminds me of the PeeWee Herman School of Debate's tactics.


McCarthy was right.  I know he is a demon for the leftwing, but in reality, as the Cold War was on the verge of becoming a very hot war, he ferreted out a lot of communists in our government.  Just in case you forgot, they had sworn to subvert and bury the USA.  After the USSR broke up (thank you President Reagan!), KGB files completely vindicated Senator McCarthy's actions.

James080
James080

@JimSX @ozonelarryb 

Not necessarily McCarthy, after all he had no enforcement ability.

Now J. Edgar Hoover is a prime example of a rogue investigator, with a military-like operating force.


ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

True, but that's the next level. Report to someone. But have freedom to look anywhere. And prove any claim they make.

But need way more insulation from the power mad little lords of meddle who think they have the right to micromanage.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@JimSX @Chattering_Monkey ah yes, on my way down there now, and You must be speaking of the largest American political scandal known to man next to Watergate, Bush's 9/11 and Katrina and Obamas free pass to the illegals

PS4131
PS4131

@JimSX @PS4131 What time, Jim?  I have asked my entire staff and they stated no message.  I've been back from court since 9:30am.  

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@James080 @bmarvel It's like a stray dog that follows you everywhere. My mistake was feeding it.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@James080 @bmarvel I just got tired of his condescending shit.  And once he decides that you say one thing he doesnt agree with, he thinks you are just a chattering Monkey, so yeah, every time he exhibits that behavior, Ill be here

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@PS4131 @JimSX

My cell phone shows that I called at 8:24 am and spoke to a woman there for one minute and 14 seconds. Maybe you need to start paying above minimum wage.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@bmarvel @James080 You didnt have to feed me,  Ive got pages and pages of comments in your profile.  It way too easy.  But you know, if the fine people of this blog want me to leave you alone, then fine, I will.  But just know Bill, Im always here, and I wont be afraid to call you on your bullshit. 

James080
James080

@Chattering_Monkey @James080 @bmarvel 

He's taken aim at a few of my posts. Meh. So what, a few exchanges, then move on. If you want to stalk someone who pollutes this blog with stupid posts, stalk the cat lady. Or is it actually bmarvel's ideology that you're tired of?

PS4131
PS4131

@JimSX @PS4131 If true, that would have been my answering service.  Normal office hours are 9-5.  They would have answered the phone "Thank you for calling Schulte & Apgar, PLLC This is their answering service."  Which would have let you know it was the answering service.  There was NO message emailed to me.  I would have most certainly returned your call, as I usually do.  

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@James080 

IMHO it's simply an age issue.....there's not much divergence on "ideology" it seems.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@PS4131 @JimSX That might be the most legally safe bitch-slap I've ever seen on these boards.

PS4131
PS4131

@JimSX @PS4131 Regardless, Jim, I'm in my office now if you would like to call me now.  

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@mavdog @James080 It's his holier than though attitude that comes across in his writings when he lets you know he is better writer and smarter person because of who he was in his younger years, and he refuses to accept any thoughts from those below him.  he exemplifies the "these damn kids these days" old guy and doesnt even hide it 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Chattering_Monkey

I'll leave you with a line from My Back Pages (it's from Bob Dylan, you know, from the "60's or 70's...)

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080 @JimSX @Chattering_Monkey

Or how about the one that's coming home to roost right now, the dirtiest and and most dishonest of them all, George H.W. Bush and the Contras in Honduras?

wcvemail
wcvemail

@PS4131 @JimSX

There's a nice, non-snarky wrap-up to the conversation. I'm so glad we were here to help this along. Toodles!

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Chattering_Monkey 

he was sooo f'd up when he recorded Rainy Day Women. hence the chorus...

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080 @JimSX @Chattering_Monkey

Yeah, you're right, camped in Honduras but devoted to anti-Sadinista cause in Nicaragua. Getting my un-Americans mixed up.

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