PALESTINE, Texas — Kimberlyn Snider, the principal of Neches Elementary School, made her first pubic appearance in court on Friday after being indicted on felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly interfering with a criminal investigation.
Snider pleaded not guilty to the charges before Deborah Oakes Evans, 87th Judicial District Court judge.
Snider was accompanied by an attorney. Her next court date is set for May 28.
Snider, the wife of Neches ISD Superintendent Randy Snider, is under indictment on charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence that was part of the investigation, which is a felony crime, and five counts of official oppression, which is a misdemeanor charge.
She allegedly interfered with an Anderson County Sheriff’s Office investigation of a report that a minor had been sexually assaulted. The sheriff’s office has said that the minor in question was not a student in the elementary school.
After the grand jury found there was enough evidence against Mrs. Snider to warrant prosecution, Snider turned herself in to sheriff’s deputies and was booked into the Anderson County Jail. She posted bond and continued her job.
The Anderson County District Attorney’s Office now is in charge of the investigation into Mrs. Snider’s possible criminal wrongdoing. If Snider is convicted on all counts and receives the maximum sentence for each, she could face up to 15 years in prison.
Kelli Karczewski, the attorney who represents Neches ISD, previously said, “The administration, including Mrs. Snider, is cooperating with law enforcement and feel optimistic that with clarification the matter will be resolved expeditiously and without disruption to the educational environment of NISD students.”
For months a group called Neches for Change has been asking the school board to remove Mrs. Snider from her post until her legal problems are resolved. Group members also have accused Mrs. Snider of bullying students.
More than 450 people have signed an online petition calling for the removal or resignation of Mrs. Snider.
“Like all others accused of crimes, she is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law,” reads the petition that was posted on change.org. “However this arrest and indictment comes after many years of abuse of power complaints, intimidation, grievances, retaliation efforts, even parents filing formal complaints with law enforcement. As parents we believe all school officials should be advocates for our children and she has proven over many years she is not an ally for all students.”
Last month, The Neches School Board voted to extend Mrs. Snider’s contract through June 2023 and her husband, the superintendent, chose not to take disciplinary action against his wife.
On Wednesday, about 30 people protested Mrs. Snider’s continued employment in a rally at Neches High School just before a meeting of the school board.