NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS Fifteen Dallas Independent School District coaches and administrators were fired this summer over an alleged improper recruiting scandal. But could those terminations be overturned?
That question is being raised by the attorney of the investigator at the center of the scandal.
Fired Madison High School basketball coach Roderick Johnson declined to comment Tuesday morning as he prepared to enter his administrative hearing at a Dallas ISD office. He and presumably other former coaches and athletic department officials are appealing their terminations.
Fifteen employees in all are accused this summer of either orchestrating or allowing the improper recruiting of two basketball stars Troy Causey at Wilmer Hutchins High School and Johnathan Turner at Madison High School.
The two students were allegedly recruited by coaches at their respective schools but were living together away from their families just to play basketball.
When the season ended, the two roommates got into a fight. Causey died; Turner was charged in his death.
An internal review conducted by DISD Chief Investigator Jeremy Liebbe resulted in the mass firings. But Liebbe was not in attendance Tuesday morning.
In fact according to his attorney he was never even told about the administrative hearings.
'There has been nothing communicated to him about these cases moving forward,' said Peter Schulte, Liebbe's attorney. Schulte said the investigator has now become the investigated as his client has been placed on administrative leave.
Schulte says now one month later he still has not been told why, although he believes it is not related to the recruiting scandal investigation.
'Nothing; radio silence, we've heard nothing,' Schulte said.
In the meantime, as was evidenced Tuesday morning, those being terminated have begun their appeals. According to Schulte, that's a huge problem for DISD.
'Mr. Liebbe was the actual link between the administration and the investigators who were working on these cases,' Schulte said. 'Without him, these things fall apart.'
Instead of relying on the top investigator in the case, DISD attorneys are relying on Liebbe's investigative reports and the testimony of others, including Tammy Simpson, the mother of the deceased student. She said she also sees potential trouble for the district.
'It's shocking being that he's the one that turned in the report,' Simpson said. 'I would think that his information would be valuable... his knowledge of the situation would be valuable.'
DISD officials will not discuss the Liebbe investigation, nor will they discuss anything related to the appeals of the 15 staffers who were fired in the recruiting scandal.
Liebbe's attorney said all that secrecy could come back to haunt the district and taxpayers if all of the investigations start to fall apart.