HOUSTON – A staff member of KIPP Explore Academy was fired after being accused of indecency with a child, according to a letter sent home to parents Monday.
In the letter, Sehba Ali, the superintendent of KIPP Houston Public Schools, told parents that Brandon McElveen’s employment had been terminated and that school leaders are cooperating with investigators.
“I and the entire KIPP Houston leadership team want you to know that we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness,” Ali said in the letter.
The nature of the allegations against McElveen was not immediately released or how long he had worked at the school which is located at 5402 Lawndale St.
A spokeswoman for the school said no further comments would be made by school leaders out of respect for those involved and for the integrity of the investigation.
Ali encouraged anyone with information about the case to contact the Houston Police Department
"You don't expect things like this to happen in your child's school,” said Natalie Gonzalez whose daughter is in first grade at KIPP Explore Academy. "I think it's real unfortunate that it had to happen in a school you know."
KPRC Channel 2 News went to McElveen’s home to hear his side, but he was not there. His neighbor said she has not seen him in about two weeks, but that an officer was in the neighborhood speaking with her friend across the street, asking questions about him.
Houston police said they have not made an arrest yet.
In August, NPR did a story about McElveen and how the counselor helped rescue people during Hurricane Harvey.
KIPP Public Schools Superintendent released the following statement:
"October 16, 2017 Dear KIPP Houston Community, At KIPP, the well-being of our students is our highest priority. With that in mind, we are writing to inform you of a situation at KIPP Explore Academy. Today, we were informed that a former KIPP Explore Academy staff member, Brandon McElveen, is being charged with indecency with a child.
"Mr. McElveen’s employment with KIPP Houston Public School has been terminated. When we first learned about the allegations, we immediately placed Mr. McElveen on administrative leave. We have been working closely with the authorities conducting the investigation and will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation. If you have any information related to this investigation or any allegation of misconduct, we encourage you to contact to the Houston Police Department at 713-830-3265.
"I and the entire KIPP Houston leadership team want you to know that we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness. We are doing everything we can to support our students, families and staff, and to ensure all members of our KIPP community feel safe and secure. We recognize that members of our KIPP Explore and KIPP Intrepid community may need additional support in the coming days and weeks.
"KIPP counselors will be available on campus to provide assistance to any students or staff who need it. We currently have a number of practices and policies to promote a safe environment across KIPP Houston Public Schools. We have specific policies in place, outlined in our staff handbook, to prevent any inappropriate contact between staff and students.
"We have a rigorous background check process for new employees through an FBI data base with continuous monitoring. We also conduct regular, mandatory training for all KIPP Houston employees through Stewards of Children, a Texas state-approved program aimed at preventing child sexual abuse. We have protocol for staff, students, and families to report suspected abuse, and we have programs in place for supporting students and their families when they come forward.
"Although we believe that our current policies meet the highest standards, we conduct regular review of these practices to promote student safety in our schools. Thank you for joining us in ensuring that our school community is a safe place. As always, please contact me or your school leaders directly if you have any questions."