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Former Murray Superintendent “Skimmed” Alumna’s Documents About Teacher’s Behavior

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Matt Markgraf
/
WKMS
Murray High School

A former Murray Independent School District superintendent said he only “skimmed” documents provided by a Murray High School alumna concerned about a former teacher’s behavior.

Isabel Duarte-Gray approached then-superintendent Bob Rogers in 2013 claiming Jason Shelby (with whom she had as a teacher and later corresponded with) engaged in inappropriate conduct with students, including sexual predatory grooming. She provided Rogers with emails, letters and a journal entry she felt corroborated this claim.

Rogers told the Murray Ledger & Times in an article on Wednesday that followed a report by WKMS News on Monday that he “skimmed” the documents before directing the school attorney to investigate.

Rogers also told the newspaper he did not consider a 2005 allegation involving Shelby’s behavior “a formal matter” and did not investigate it. He said he directed Murray High School Principal Teresa Speed to address the complaint. According to Duarte-Gray, a teacher (who has not gone on record with her account out of fear of retaliation) had approached Speed with a concern involving Shelby’s interactions with Duarte-Gray and potentially others. Duarte-Gray has said she does not believe this allegation was investigated. The school district provided WKMS News with no documentation of the allegation or any investigation when asked for records.

Rogers said a response clarifying his recent statements is coming, following approval from legal counsel.

Duarte-Gray told WKMS News on Wednesday when she approached the school system in 2013 she hoped the allegations would be taken seriously and protect future students from harm. “And it’s disturbing to me that this did not happen within a reasonable timeline, and was not pursued to the full extent of the school’s investigative powers,” she said.

She questions why Rogers did not read the allegations and evidence presented “before ceding all responsibility for the investigation to his legal counsel.” She added that guaranteeing student safety was Rogers’ responsibility as superintendent “and clearly he did not invest his full attention in this matter.”

Rogers told the Ledger that he has “investigated everything brought to me,” and said the safety of children is the number-one priority.  Rogers has previously told WKMS News that he asked Buckingham “to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter” and that he had confidence in Buckingham's recommendation on legal matters. Rogers said he reported the matter to the EPSB in 2013 and took disciplinary action against the teacher - prohibiting him from affiliating with extra-curricular groups.

According to the school district's Code of Conduct, the Board Attorney is one of the individuals to whom a sexual harassment complaint or inquiry can be directed. The Code of Conduct also says complaints or reports will be investigated and the results of that investigation will be reported to the accuser, or to a parent or guardian in the case of a student.

Duarte-Gray questioned that Rogers “investigated everything” because he stated did not investigate the 2005 allegation. “If I were a Murray parent, I would hope that if a teacher complained to school administration about an educator’s inappropriate conduct with my child, that administrator would ask questions, seek information, and make decisions based on available facts and testimony,” said Duarte-Gray.

Duarte-Gray said “It is disconcerting how little curiosity Mr. Rogers has shown about these allegations, in 2005 and 2013, and how comfortable he was to make judgments concerning student safety with the bare minimum of information. Both [current superintendent Coy] Samons and Rogers have described the 2005 allegation as not sounding, feeling, or seeming serious, but those characterizations had no basis in information, because Rogers chose not, as he would put it, to ‘get the facts.’”

Samons, who took over as superintendent when Rogers retired in 2017, told WKMS News he had learned nothing of the 2005 allegation that caused him to believe the behavior warranted being reported to authorities or would have led to Shelby being fired. 

Shelby is under investigation by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board and Kentucky State Police.

KSP Trooper Jay Thomas said on Wednesday Detective Cory Hamby is in the process of meeting with a prosecutor. The prosecutor would either be the County Attorney or Commonwealth’s Attorney unless a special prosecutor is appointed by the Attorney General’s office. Thomas said he did not know whether the scope of the investigation has changed to include school officials.

Duarte-Gray said Title IX coordinators were not present in her meetings with school officials and no Title IX coordinator has contacted her involving the allegations. According to the school’s website, Title IX inquiries are directed to the superintendent’s office.

This story will be updated.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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