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Former Holmes Band Director Responds to Allegations Against Him

Former Holmes High School Band Director Jared Murray was a guest on 700 WLW's "The Bill Cunningham Show" on Monday and spoke to members of the media afterwards, including The River City News.

Murray resigned his position last week amid an open and ongoing investigation by the Covington Police Department and following more than two weeks on paid suspension.

The investigation centers around the more than one hundred text messages sent from Murray to a female student at Holmes, at least some of which were deemed to be inappropriate by the female's mother.

"I have sent some text messages but I've never received any report saying what I did send or didn't send," Murray said Monday. He added that most of his text messages to various students were directly related to band while other messages may have been more personal in nature but offered out of concern.

"I allowed myself to be a second father figure to a lot of the students so I tell them if they need any help to let me know and I'll always be there for them," Murray said. He said that it was possible that some of his texts to the female student in question may have been misinterpreted.

Prior to the radio appearance and press conference, the Eric Deters law firm which is representing Murray, issued a news release with an attachment titled, "Facts in the Jared Murray case".

In it, Murray recounts the time leading up to his resignation, something he said he was offered to do in lieu of being terminated.

"The way it was given to me, if I were to resign, everything would be washed out and we'd go our separate ways," Murray said Monday. "That was me trying to help the kids. I thought, let me just step away."

Stepping away was hard on the 7-year veteran of the Covington Independent Public Schools who has helped lead a resurgence in the band and oversaw a $700,000 new band room constructed last spring.

"I feel a void in my life," he said. "These kids are my family. When I first moved to Covington, I didn't have any family. They helped me overcome some obstacles I was having, through my divorce. That's who I had and now I don't have my students who I consider my children."

Murray said that when his students were in need, he came through for them. He purchased new shoes for the ones who couldn't afford them and meals for those who would have gone without. Gestures like that scored him an outpouring of support from current students and parents, a few of which sent supportive emails to Deters' law firm and which were attached to the news release.

The news release also identified the alleged recipient of the text messages in question, a mistake that attorney Chris Roach, who is representing Murray until Deters' suspension ends in November, said would be corrected and redacted and reissued.

Some of the emails also personally attack the teen girl and her mother, questioning their motives. The attorneys plan to seize that, too.

"The cavalry is coming out of the woodwork," said Chuck Holbrook, an investigator for Deters. "There are band members, parents, kids crying themselves to sleep if they're getting to sleep. They're really upset over this. He is  like a father figure to them. He's sugar-coating the troubles these kids have had. We have it in black and white, these problems these kids are going through."

Holbrook characterized the text messages between Murray and the female student as "an intimate conversation about personal problems and not knowing what to do."
"She could trust him but he obviously couldn't trust her or this girl's mother," Holbrook said. "It's self-inflation by character assassination."
"We're going to get to the bottom of it and they're going to be sorry they spread this pack of lies and the school district is going to be sorry they supported this scandal."
Roach said that the district is culpable in this case for adding to the allegations by threatening to terminate Murray on the basis of what he contends to be nonfactual allegations. When asked if it could be possible that an employer can fire an employee based on the company's policies and procedures even if a transgression was not necessarily illegal, Roach said that his team had not yet reviewed the texting policy of Covington Independent Public Schools as it pertains to teachers and students.
Murray said that he knows of many teachers that use text messaging to communicate with students.
The district is not commenting on the case at this time. Neither are the mother of the female student or their attorney when reached by The River City News on Monday.
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Chain of Events
Murray spelled out in detail in this morning's news release what happened the day he was placed on suspension with pay.
"I was placed on suspension with pay on September 6, 2013 because of a report received to Central Office about inappropriate texting with a student," Murray wrote. "The notice that I received on September 6 had no stipulations as to what I can/can't do (during) my suspension."
He was told that the investigation could take up to fourteen days. After that two-week period, Murray contacted the district. A response email informed Murray that there was no change in his status and added the stipulations that he was not to communicate with students, attend band competitions, or come on to school property.
He was summoned to the district on September 24 and presented with the findings of the investigation. "The notice read that my contract was going to be terminated immediately," Murray wrote. "After reading through and asking for some clarification on items, I was told that, 'Or you could submit a resignation'." When Murray asked about the resignation, he said that he was told that the termination would not go into his personnel file.
The conditions of the termination were texting with a student and for not fulfilling training requirements mandated by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, Murray wrote. He added that the personnel director was aware of his attempts to fulfill the necessary training.
Murray was then escorted to retrieve his personal belongings and the director of personnel and director of pupil personnel assisted him in loading his truck, shook his hand, and wished him well, Murray wrote.
Murray wrote that following his departure he inquired to the personnel director about what would be reported to the EPSB and was told that they would be informed that he resigned in lieu of termination. "That was not presented in that matter on September 24," Murray wrote.
"I have since contacted a few people with whom I have asked for advice throughout my teaching career," Murray wrote. "One of them is the former superintendent of the school district. They have spoken with a person who has seen the texts sent and the person described some of them as 'creepy' but it was not grounds for termination. They said that the consensus of the central office is that there were no grounds for termination."
Asked Monday about which texts could possibly be deemed as creepy, Murray could not think of any and maintains that he has not seen any of the texts that are allegedly inappropriate.
Not sure if he'd return to Holmes

Murray is credited with resurrecting a struggling band program at Holmes High School and is also the leader of the band at the adjoining middle school. He said Monday that he was committed to returning the program to the glory of the seventies and eighties.

Now that he's gone, he said he'd simply like to teach again.

"Everything that's gone on, it's affected me as an individual," Murray said. "As I've told everybody, I got to look out for me and my wife and my family." He's not sure if he would ever return to Holmes if given the chance but he is sure of what he would say to the female student and her mother.

"I wish you would have come to me as an individual first to clear this up."

"I would love to teach again someday," he said. "The band has a hole in it. They are on big happy family. I always told them, through together and family you can overcome everything. The bond you get with a team is what's special and I consider those kids my own kids and I would do anything for them."

"I was shocked that this would come from someone within the band family," Murray said. We're all a big happy family."

During the live radio portion of his media appearance Monday, he said that he had had the female student in class since seventh or eighth grade. "In my mind, she's a troubled student. It's not a very good home situation."

"The allegations are false," Roach, the attorney, said. "There is no assurance whether charges will be brought. Jared's already lost his job and we're going after the mother and her daughter."
Roach said the possible charge is unlawful transaction with a minor, and depending on whether it is charged as a Class D or Class A Felony, it would carry one to five or twenty to fifty years in prison.
Covington Police have not commented on their ongoing investigation.
The mother of the student had removed the student from band prior to Murray's suspension, based on concerns over the student's personal life, it was noted Monday in the documents sent by the Deters law firm as written by Murray.
The former band director said he and the mother disagreed over the decision and Murray believed it was in the student's best interest to remain in the extracurricular activity.
Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News


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