Friday, November 18, 2005

 

Bruceville-Eddy schools searched after superintendent arrested for improper videotaping


EDDY, Texas – Officials conducted a district-wide search of Bruceville-Eddy school facilities after Superintendent Dan Doyen's arrest Wednesday for placing a hidden video camera in a women's bathroom at the school administration office.

“Under the direction of Dr. Vonn Murray, assistant superintendent of schools, all facilities were checked for inappropriate recording or video devices and none were found,” Bruceville-Eddy High School principal Richard Kilgore said Thursday morning at a press conference as Doyen remained in the McLennan County Jail.

McLennan County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested the 46-year-old Doyen Wednesday after he admitted that he bought a camera disguised to look like an air freshener dispenser with a school credit card and placed it in a restroom used by three administration office employees and female visitors to the building.

Doyen spent the night in jail and was released at 2 p.m. Thursday after posting $7,500 bail on state jail felony charges of improper photography or visual recording.

As news of Doyen's arrest spread through the small community and 1,000-student school system, Kilgore said that school officials have been inundated with phone calls from shocked parents and teachers.

“As a parent myself, I have concerns, and we have been getting a number of calls from people with concerns,” Kilgore said. “That is the reason we searched last night. We recognize and understand that concern and we want to reassure them as much as possible that the bell rang this morning and the kids are in class, teachers are in class doing a good job teaching and our facilities are safe.”

The search convinced school officials that the hidden camera was the only one purchased by Doyen and that “this was an isolated incident that occurred in the administration building only,” Kilgore said.

Bruceville-Eddy school board members met in an emergency meeting Wednesday night and voted unanimously to place Doyen on paid administrative leave pending investigations by school officials and the sheriff's office. They also named Gary Herbert, intermediate school principal, as acting superintendent.

Sheriff's office investigators searched Doyen's office and home Tuesday and seized the hidden camera that Doyen admitted buying with school funds, according to records filed in the case. They also seized computer equipment from his home and office and 11 weapons from his home, records indicate.

Doyen did not return phone messages left at his residence Thursday. He moved to Central Texas in July 2002 from southeast Texas, where he had been superintendent for the West Hardin County Consolidated School District.

Kilgore and Bruceville-Eddy school board president David Duty both said Thursday that Doyen was an enthusiastic, energetic administrator who has improved the district.

“I believe you could ask anyone in the community,” said Duty, a 12-year school board member. “This is such a shock. He always had the best interests of the school in mind. He cared about the school, had several future plans in the works and words can't describe how I feel. You could name 1,000 people and he wouldn't have been one of them that I would ever suspect of doing something like this.”

Duty said he hoped to speak to Doyen later Thursday evening, declining to speculate on his future with the school district. School board members will meet again Monday night, but Duty said he was unsure if they will make a definitive decision on Doyen's future.

Kilgore said school officials could determine within the next two days how Doyen's situation will be handled, adding that his reported confession to the charges will factor into any decision made and perhaps hasten the process.

Joanna Bowden, president of the Bruceville-Eddy Parent-Teacher Organization, said the faculty and staff deserve a secure work environment.

“It was a just terribly unfortunate situation,” she said. “I am sure that our legal system will take care of any crime that may or may not have been committed. But my main concern is for our faculty and staff. I want them to have a safe and secure environment in which to work, one where they feel safe and comfortable. They deserve that at the very least. But I don't know how you fix something like this.”

Chief Deputy Randy Plemons of the McLennan County Sheriff's Office said an investigation into the incident continues, adding that he could not comment on evidence gathered in the case.

According to court records, an administration office clerk alerted investigators after finding a school credit card statement earlier this month for a $299 purchase with no vendor name. After a brief investigation of her own, she uncovered that the purchase was for a surveillance camera that resembles an air freshener dispenser, records indicate.

Later, she and other female office employees found the hidden camera in a restroom used exclusively by women, investigators said in court documents.

Kilgore said Thursday that he was unsure how the hidden camera got from the bathroom, where the women discovered it, to Doyen's office, where search warrant documents revealed that sheriff's investigators seized it on Tuesday.

Kilgore said the women in the office were back at work on Thursday.

“Obviously, they are concerned and shocked and scared and upset,” he said. “But they have handled it very well and professionally, as has everybody in our district. I have been proud of our students and faculty. I was walking the hallways this morning and everybody was going about their business.”


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